Mar 22, 2015

Sketch! {Book Review}

Sketch! The non-artist's guide to inspiration, technique, and drawing daily life
by France Belleville - Van Stone (Author's website:

My Thoughts:
I've always loved to draw and color, ever since I was capable of holding crayons in my fist.  Even when I was young enough that my attention span was generally quite short, I would manage to sit contentedly for hours putting pigment on paper.  I took several years of art classes while in grade school, and then another short, week-long stint of art lessons in high school, but in the past couple years I've rarely drawn much of anything.

When I saw this book was available for review I was hesitant, as I've read other books on sketching which basically just encourage you to copy the steps the artist author has laid out.  While those types of book are helpful, I've never been one to really enjoy just copying another person's work step-by-step, as the feeling of accomplishment is so much higher when I just copy the finished product or draw what I actually see.

This book, however, isn't such a guide.  In fact, I would say that it is more inspiration and encouragement than it is a guide, even though it has a good bit of advice on what to do and what not to do.

The clear message of the entire book, which resonated strongly with me, was the encouragement to simply draw.  Not to make a masterpiece, not to worry too much about methods or equipment, but to simply enjoy the process of drawing.  And I think this is just the encouragement I need at this point in my life.  While I want to learn better methods of drawing and perfect my sketches and add more skills and techniques like cross-hatching to my repetoire, I really need to get back to my child-like love for simply putting down lines on paper.

What this book is not:
If you're looking for a book giving paint-by-the-number sort of instructions, then this book will leave you feeling disappointed.  It isn't a book telling you how to create an incredible work of art.  It is a friendly kick-in-the-pants reminding you that you'll never be a great artist without drawing and sketching a ton of pathetic "failures".

It does have inspiration tips from the author about some things she's learned the hard way (for instance, what paper doesn't work with certain pens) but it isn't a step-by-step method giving instructions on what exactly you have to do.

My rating:
This book not only contains a message I needed to hear, but it is also stuffed full of the author's own inspiring sketches.  Some of them are incredible, others are just squiggles -- but seeing the imperfect drawings is sometimes just as helpful, if not more so.  Even if you personally aren't interested in sketching, the eye-candy alone would make it an interesting book to peruse.

Therefore, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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