Thomas Allen & Son sent me a copy of 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
“I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing.” — Vincent Van Gogh
When I was in high school I did a three-month student exchange in Quebec and took an art class heavy on illustration. One of our assignments was to draw our reflection in an everyday object, and I remember sitting at my host family’s kitchen table one day after school, totally engrossed in my homework as I tried to sketch my face mirrored in a chrome kettle. Until the smell of smoke broke my concentration. I looked up from my sketchpad and saw the croissant I’d forgotten in the toaster oven engulfed in flames and black smoke curling up the cupboard. (Merde!) A glass of water put the fire out (and shattered the door of the toaster oven), but I’ve never forgiven myself. I was so in the flow that I nearly burned the house down! Which is why I think maybe today’s book should come with a warning. Because it’s easy to lose track of time (and everything else) when you sit down with 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper.
It’s the fourth book from Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst, creative directors of Flow magazine. (You might remember my post about their first book, A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness.) This one offers 50 lessons from a variety of artists and illustrators on how to draw everyday things — a bouquet of flowers, jam jars in a pantry, things on your desk, an apple tree — as well as principles of colour, perspective and negative space. And because it’s a workbook, there is plenty of room to draw and to dream, plus all kinds of extras like blank postcards and paper dolls to pull out and play with.
The lessons are organized in four parts: home, garden, style, and nature. These are peppered with mini features (some just one page, some more) like tips for getting started; self-portraits and advice from illustrators from around the world; and a look at eight illustrators’ favourite materials.
“Don’t try too hard to draw neatly. Sometimes I catch myself ‘copying’ something, and I have to remind myself it’s an interpretation, not a scientific drawing.” — Maartje van de Noort
This page is followed by a drawing of the same house, only the rooms are empty to fill as you like.
The tone of the book is relaxed and cheerful, making it an inviting book for anyone new to the craft or thinking about picking it up again. It would be a lovely book to bring to the cottage (note to self: need more friends with cottages) to while away those long, lazy summer days or curl up with by the fire — I mean a fireplace, not a flaming croissant! — on a cool autumn evening. It’s aimed at adults but young illustrators (I’d say ages 9 and up) would love it just as much. Gift it with some good pencils, pencil crayons and/or fine- and fat-felt-tipped pens and you’ll have some happy campers who might be surprised to find or remember how fun it is to draw.
Thanks to Thomas Allen & Son, I’ve got a copy of 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life to give away. To enter to win, tell me what you like to draw (or what you liked to draw in the past — maybe it’s a hobby you’d like to pick up again) in the comments below. This entry is mandatory.
For an additional entry, visit try small things on Facebook and like (or love!) this post and leave a comment, then tell me you did so and your name on Facebook in the comments below. (Shares aren’t necessary, but you know I really appreciate it!)
And feel free to tweet the following once per day and leave the url for your tweet in the comments below (one entry per tweet). Make sure you’re following try small things on Twitter for your entry to count.
“I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing.” — Vincent Van Gogh • #Win “50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper” from @trysmallthings https://wp.me/p4xBed-6Fx CAN 6/30
The contest is open to Canadian residents 18+ excluding Quebec and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on June 30, 2018. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another winner will be selected.
Update July 2, 2018: Congratulations Jennifer C!
Images excerpted from 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst (Workman). Copyright © 2018. Image 2 by Bodil Jane; image 3 by Karen Weening. Both images and the cover used here with permission from the publisher.