You may have noticed that art classes for children are either disappearing entirely from schools or diminishing in their frequency of being offered. This is sad since children are more likely to believe they can do art successfully before the age of thirteen. After that, many kids come to the erroneous conclusion that art is something only for those born with talent and isn’t worth pursuing for the average person. This is incorrect, however, as art is a learned skill which can be improved drastically by consistent practice and hard work, just like learning to play a musical instrument. But if a school simply doesn’t offer an art program, or has a greatly abbreviated version of one, what can a parent do to help his or her child cultivate artistic ability?
One great source of art instruction and inspiration is the local library or bookstore. A movement, which is known as “urban sketching,” has gained popularity in recent years. Urban sketching encourages people who consider themselves non-artists to pick up a pen or pencil and sketch the world around them. The result has been a publishing influx of books which foster the art of simple sketching. One of these is “Sketch! The non-artist’s guide to inspiration, technique, and drawing daily life” by self-taught artist France Belleville-Van Stone.
“Sketch!” is divided into several easy to read sections. France first addresses the view most people have of being a non-artist versus being an artist. After this, as in most drawing books, she also goes over basic tools needed for drawing. It soon becomes clear that while there are lots of drawing tool options, one of the best things about sketching is that you really only need two things in order to draw—a surface and a tool to mark on it with. Knowing a little about the different tools and surfaces available is helpful when starting out, however.
France devotes one section to basic techniques sketchers can use, one to handling limited time or resources for drawing, and one to digital drawing. In each she continually drops tips and hints which encourage as well as guide the non-artist. While “Sketch!” by France Belleville-Van Stone is aimed at any non-artists, regardless of age, it is also a tool which can be adapted for use by any parent, especially one who would like to sit down with his or her child and create a guided drawing time which they can enjoy together.
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications
Source of review copy: Gail Borden Public Library