“How to develop a drawing practice and embrace the art of imperfection.“
It’s been a while since I reviewed an art book, but I’m forever looking for ways back into the hobby, the creative part of myself. I’m also a big fan of meditation and mindfulness, so the title of this book sounded perfect. It turned out not to be quite what I was expecting, but actually, I really liked it a lot more.
I think it’s fair to say that the past few years have been tough on us all, in many different ways. While I picked up this book expecting to find tips for drawing, it turned out to be much more a book on mindfulness, using sketching as a different ‘way in’. And I love that!
There are so many benefits to a hobby like sketching: it takes you out of yourself, it can put you into that ‘flow state’, and can just let you express yourself non-verbally – art therapy being totally a thing. The author encourages the reader to use sketching for all of these things, and as a way of filling an otherwise frustrating delay, be it hours or just a few minutes. She encourages you to look more closely at a scene, to find things that catch your eye, and to examine how things make you feel. If you’re at all ‘arty’, you’ve probably already had that moment of “Oh, I wish I could capture that!” – but have you ever stopped to think why that scene, that moment, caught you like that?
So it’s not just about art – although there are lessons here in materials, perspective, framing, and (I think very importantly) not going into too much detail. I’m not 100% convinced you’ll understand perspective or be able to apply using a pen as measurement from the brief overview (I mean, I’ve known this for years and still struggle a lot!), but even if you can’t quite catch the technicality – it does feel a little like someone who finds a thing very easy not necessarily realising that others can’t – there’s still plenty of examples and demonstrations to at least get you going. And as the book says, “the end result is just a bonus”.
Because, yes, I do think this is more a book on mindfulness, on celebrating life. That art is the medium is just one route.
For me, I haven’t made as much of a start on actual sketching as I’d hoped, and I know when I do I want to come back to a lot of the exercises and tips again. But more importantly, I feel very encouraged to try more sketching and use a lot of the tips here: not going for too much detail, seeing that imperfect often looks nicer, and even the subtle use of colour. I certainly feel more okay about just trying to capture the little scenes that, for whatever reason, speak to me. I know my results will probably frustrate me – Peggy Dean makes it look *so* easy, but it’s not – but perhaps I can stay mindful that I’m a beginner, and the only way to ‘get good’ is to keep trying. And most of all, enjoying the journey.
“Please embrace imperfection as it arises and celebrate your ‘mistakes’ (If I may say so, you’ll find this works in all areas of life.)”
NetGalley eARC: 176 pages / 11 chapters
First published: 17th May 2022
Read from 6th-17th May 2022
My rating: 8/10