Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Book Nook: Draw Like This

I recently had a chance to review DRAW LIKE THIS!: How Anyone Can See the World Like an Artist—and Capture It on Paper. It was a really fun book to review, especially since my daughter enjoys art, and has a better talent for it than I do. It encouraged us to draw together, and I was surprised at how well I could actually do, even though it's not one of my gifts.

The book is wonderfully illustrated, with good easy-to-follow exercises to encourage artists of all ages and abilities. Author/artist Christoper Locke, a teacher, also believes strongly in keeping art in schools (I agree with him, especially as a music teacher). He wrote a great piece titled How Art Benefits Kids that I encourage you to read, especially if your child's school is cutting art programs.

You can also check out this mini-documentary about Christopher’s art, and find his portfolio of eccentric multi-media work, including his iPod/iPhone amplifiers and Post-it Note portraits, here.

Christopher Locke is an illustrator and teacher based in Austin, Texas whose art – especially his welding work – has been featured in Details, Reason, The Week, PC World, Travel + Leisure and elsewhere. His work can be found on http://www.heartlessmachine.com/
There are a lot of different how-to-draw books out in the market. What do you think distinguishes your book from the others – what makes it unique?
Christopher: I think a lot of drawing tutorials come from the purely academic collegiate level, or from the very simple set of cubes and dogs.  My drawing book comes from a different place.  I’ve adapted my professional artist experience to teaching, starting with a strong foundation in the basics.  But I also come from middle school teaching, where entertainment is key.  So my book isn’t just about how to draw, it’s about how anybody can learn to draw anything, and I try to do it in a way that entertains.
When did you realize that art was your true calling? How did your artistic journey begin?
Christopher: I think my artistic journey began before I was old enough to form memories of it.  I grew up with limited resources, and drawing is cheap.  I was also a quiet and solitary kid, and art kept me occupied.  As with any skill, repetition led to improvement, which garnered praise, which encouraged more practice.  Art became the thing that made me happiest.
What lesson do you think is the hardest for kids to learn in your class? Why do you think this is?
Christopher: I think the hardest lesson is also the most difficult lesson.  It’s when I try to teach the kids that drawing is a skill that must be built and nurtured, just like any other skill.  They lack the confidence, and that reluctance is such a detriment to their ability.  The biggest difficulty in art exists wholly in the mind.  The second most difficult lesson is painting with india ink, because it’s permanent.
What advice do you have for parents whose children want to be artists?
Christopher: Encourage, nurture, and support them in art, but also encourage, nurture, and support them in something else as well.  Make sure they know that successful artists understand the science of their work, can write proposals legibly, and speak to small groups about interesting things.  Make sure your kid knows that math is totally necessary, so they can track their expenses and decide how to price their work.  Additionally, there’s a lot of amazing art that is directly or indirectly related to politics and history.  So your child should never be allowed to think that what they are learning in school will not apply to their life as an artist.  All of it applies.

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