Sunday, April 28, 2013

Who Knew? Art is Easy!

There is a thin line between hoarding and collecting. I spend most spring and summer Saturday mornings poking around yard sales looking to buy books to add to my collection. Oh heck, truth be told, I never really stop looking! I end up at library sales, estate sales, auctions; like I said, it’s a thin line!

On occasion I have been known to buy entire collections and on one such occasion I purchased a collection from the estate of an art teacher that was loaded not only with spectacular and heavy books of artists work, but had a good number of art instruction books. So when my daughter started to show an interest in drawing I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to put the instruction books to work; I figured anything that got her off the computer and she would spend hours doing was a good thing.

The problem was most of the instruction books where a little too advanced or didn’t take her through the process in a step by step manner, so she became frustrated…quickly. What was once fun and interesting now was hard. And boy was I stupid for giving her those books….just ask her!

Enter Andrew Loomis and Lee J. Ames, who ride to my rescue with books that make art not only fun, but easy!

Loomis originally penned, or should I say penciled? Fun With a Pencil back in 1939 and while decades have passed it’s easy to understand and clearly illustrated steps make drawing normal or cartoonish characters pretty easy. The folks at Titan Books have released a beautiful re-packaged version that runs the gamut from basic faces right through keeping subjects in perspective when drawing more complex things.
While the book takes on an almost coffee table quality, it is definitely a great reference tool for the beginning artist. Loomis provides not only a narrative explanation of the steps he draws each stage of the evolving drawing. This boiled down approach made it much easier for my daughter to see how the drawing evolved from point A to the finished product. It’s good to be a cool Dad again!

Lee J. Ames first job was with Walt Disney Studios at the ripe old age of 18. He went on to a career as an advertising artist, illustrator and animator. His series of 26 different Draw 50 books includes everything from Creepy Crawlies and Birds to Building and Boats, Ships, Trucks and Trains. You name it and Ames has a book that can teach you how to draw it.

Watson-Gruptill/Crown Books is re-releasing the set which features easy to follow, step-by-step renderings of as the titles suggest, 50 different objects in each book in the series. While Ames relies solely on the individually illustrated steps without a narrative guide, the process is so stripped down that it easier easy for even the novice to follow.

Ames books on what I will call the “fun things” like magical creatures or aliens are probably a good starting point for the beginner. His books on building and some of the variety of animals are a little more complex.

Whether you’re a doodler looking to evolve into something more complex or an aspiring artist both Loomis and Ames offer a wonderful guides to get you to where you want to go, but I can’t guarantee that it will make you a cool Dad!  

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