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The Drawing Breakthrough Book
by John Hastings
reviewed by Beverley Paine
I recently came across a self-published book on drawing that, as a self-confessed left-brained dominant creative person, immediately appealed to me. Called The Drawing Breakthrough Book, A Shortcut to Artistic Excellence, this book explains in a logical manner that will appeal to any budding or practicing mathematician how to draw just about anything. It's not just a book about drawing however, there are also exercises you can do to help consolidate the processes the author describes.
I'm the kind of gal that can copy just about anything, but all too often my drawings are angled weirdly or not to scale. Worse still, one part of the picture is to scale and another part isn't. This doesn't look very picturesque at all! I found John's simple techniques useful for helping to correct these problems.
As a natural learner I find it difficult to learn from text books and had an inbuilt resistance to working through the examples and exercises. Persistence paid off. Sometimes when we really want to learn something and there isn't someone to show and guide us personally a book or DVD is the next best thing.
There are times when you leap ahead and sketch a complete object immediately - using what I fondly call right-brain skills. To do this I tend to blur my vision and allow my hand to quickly rough out the shape, then feather in fine details until I'm happy. Drawing this way has only ever got me so far, however. To perfect my drawings I needed to do what Hastings called 'planning ahead'. Admittedly, this is probably because that reflects the type of learner I am. It pays to work with your strengths, whilst recognising your weaknesses and doing whatever you can to improve them.
Every step-by-step lesson is complete with feedback and helps to develop artistic hand-eye coordination that can be applied to visual artistic mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpting, or modeling clay.
I haven't perfected my drawing skills yet, neither have I achieved artistic excellence, but I am pleased with the progress I have made following some of John's instructions. This is a useful book to add to your homeschool collection of instructional art books.
According to the web site "a U.S. Department of Education National Longitudinal Study of more than 25,000 students found that those with high levels of art involvement performed better than students without art stimulation in several academic areas, regardless of the students' social or economic station." Hastings book makes it obvious that there is a great deal of mathematics embedded in any kind of artistic endeavour. It's impossible to not consolidate maths skills and knowledge when doodling, drawing simple pictures or creating artistic masterpieces.
Drawing helps children and adults perform better in the areas of creativity, fluency, and originality - in any subject area, not just art. It also helps you to develop an enhanced ability to express your thoughts and ideas. It goes without saying that drawing also exercises your imagination... All these areas of learning are crucial to developing problem solving skills.
In 1998 Joh was frustrated with the drawing lessons he was taking and motivated by the belief that there was a missing link in the usual approach he began breaking drawing skills into small parts. He discovered that there are three types of simple building -block lines in every picture. The Drawing Breakthrough Book teaches how to use these to help draw anything.
Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
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