Of course both you and I know that no book about drawing will ever replace Danny's book in my heart, for the multitude of reasons I talked about in the past. This doesn't mean, however, that I do not cherish other books about drawing, especially the ones that are not airy-fairy about it. As you must have realised by now, I dislike airy-fairy, for it is a philosophy that discounts the sweat-aspect related to drawing (and writing if we're talking about writing).
More and more people (self-fashioned 'experts', usually) proclaim that there are no rules and that the only rule worth following is that no rule should be followed. But this is likely to build false expectations. Imagine that! Someone tells you that YES of course YOU CAN and that YES of course YOU WILL because YES I did it just by sitting at the kitchen table, two evenings a week and LOOK AT ME NOW I got the publishing deal/the exhibit in the gallery/the sales through Etsy and so on and so forth.
But what happens when you try the same and it doesn't work for you? Hurts, doesn't it? That's because these 'experts' I am telling you about never ever talk about the Hard Work involved in hitting one's goals. They paint everything with this rainbow brush that gives you a picture filled with unicorns and fairies that never ever tells you a thing about the fear, the problems, the worries, the difficulties, the re-writes, the corrections and the rejections associated with making art. And I am telling you this reader: it's Hard Work. It's mostly enjoyable, sure, but it is still Hard Work.
Me being me and rejecting the airy fairy principles referred to above (what a friend of mine prosaically calls The Wank Factor, well said darling), of course I would sit here telling you about How To Draw, an ancient little book about the pure pleasure of drawing for its own sake. But of course dear reader, drawing for its own sake doesn't mean no rules/ I draw in whatever crap way I want to draw. As Adrian Hill states in this wonderful text, 'to draw well, certain rules have to be followed: [...] those governing perspective, viewpoint, composition, shadows and reflections'.
There is an awful lot I could share from this book, for the author tackles everything from lines to light and shade; from using one's sketchbook to tackling trees, animals, people; from the basic pleasures of drawing to drawing from imagination and then some but I believe that what I hold most dear from it is to be found at the beginning, when he talks about lines.
'When we begin to draw any sort of line we can be said to start on a journey – and we leave a tangible trail behind us. It is our trail and we make it our way. Where we go and how we go is for our own choice. With practice we can soon make a more or less direct non-stop journey from one side of our paper to the other. Or we can make our way in a more leisurely fashion, mounting and descending at will, steering a very roundabout course, so much so in fact that if our line was a piece of string and straightened out, it would possibly extend far beyond our paper and every board on which our piece of paper was resting. But curled up on our paper it makes a design – of sorts.'
You see, this makes me smile. It makes me smile because when I was small and used to draw a lot, every day, I would always look at my sketchbook and I would always, in my mind, stretch out lines ad infinitum, imagining my characters flattening out into nothing more than a thin inky-blue string that would go on for ever. Later, I always used to think of my words as lines interrupted (I still do), the little letters stretched out into matchsticks that would connect to form one single line.
If you've never drawn before, I think that this tiny book is the perfect thing you need if you wish to understand why your first attempts do not quite look in the way reality does. I do believe, as the author of this book, that 'there is a place for every sort of drawing in all pictures, and if the technique is personally felt, it will always be found worthy of the occasion'.