Just like anyone who has an inordinate fondness for books, the Artist has,uh…a few of them on hand.
And by “a few”, we really mean “enough to crush a small nation if/when the stacks topple over”. She’s been on a quest lately to attempt to take that number down to a much more reasonable “enough to crush a semi-urban city” instead (usually by getting the kindle editions, since the addiction is still strong), but let’s just be honest here: there are more books here than there are monsters, and you KNOW our numbers are legion.
There’s one little problem with the collecting of technique/inspiration books, though.
Most of the time, with so many on hand, it’s very hard for the Artist to figure out just exactly where to start. She reads them all. Flips through them every so often. Pets them a lot. But actually using them for the intended purpose of giving instruction or direction for a project or learning a technique?
Uh. Yeah. Not so much.
So in a fit of pique earlier this year, the Artist decided to make a change.
Hoarded books, even when attended to by a legion of monsters, are still hoarded books. They’re effectively wasted information, since all it’s doing is sitting there in a pile and looking cute. (Which, we admit, is a pretty nice side effect. Looking cute is one thing that a stack of books can do very well, for sure.)
No more, the Artist decreed. Either they get used or they get gone. No more piles.
And the books may have screamed a little, since it’s awfully comfortable there on their shelves. Because they don’t really have mouths, per se, only the monsters could hear the weeping, but trust us, it occurred.
Over the next few weeks, the Artist hatched out a plan: Weed out the books she wouldn’t EVER use for one reason or another. Then, from the remaining stack(s), pick one and actually do the projects or exercises as presented, barring any lacking materials or potential harm to herself or others. (For example, she has some books on jewelrymaking…with a torch. If there’s anything you don’t want in the hands of the Artist, it’s a flippin’ torch. Do NOT give her FIRE. Think of the children.)
It was hard to pick just one.
Blame it on latent ADD or just a general interest in just about everything, but settling down with one book was not an easy task. There may have been wailing and gnashings of teeth. But the Artist finally closed her eyes and grabbed at random, and came up with this:
DRAWING LAB, by Carla Sonheim, is awesome. If you remember the imaginary animals class we talked about last summer, this is by the same artist/author/teacher, and has that same fun, whimsical feel to it. There are 52 exercises (non-progressive for the most part, so you can pick at random or go start-to-finish), all of them really creative and inspiring.
Because it was part of the deal with herself, the Artist started from exercise #1 and worked her way through the book, filling up an entire art journal in the process. No, really. In fact, she’s on exercise 48 right now, and is having to do them on loose paper now since the sketchbook dedicated to this process is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT FULL, plus some. (As in, she stapled things to pages and clipped stuff to the back cover. The book looks like a broken accordion at this point.)
A couple of the exercises:
Clockwise from the big ‘un:
- Drawing 100 faces. No, really. A HUNDRED of them in all kinds of media and styles.
- Using only four pre-selected colors/mediums to draw a monkey.
- Picasso-inspired dog. Yes, DOG.
- Using a random number generator to pick subjects. Yes, that’s a rooster, flowers, a manatee, and a pangolin.
- Blind contours of giraffes, which may now be the Artist’s favorite animals.
- Imaginary bugs filled with patterns…and awesome.
With 52 exercises from which to choose, the Artist’s been drawing it up for the past couple months. Even the exercises that didn’t personally work for her were kind of awesome, and she swears she’s learned something from every one of them, even the ones she read through and thought were kind of lame. (They’re not.)
So….what books do you have sitting around that you haven’t actually used? Try digging into one at a time and going through the whole thing. If you hate it, you know you can clear out some shelf space (ignore the screams of the books in question), and you may just end up learning a thing or two and having a whole lot of fun in the process.