The Drawing Book: a review

January 22, 2012

Sarah Simblet, The Drawing Book. London, Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 2005.

Most drawing books feature the work of an individual author and works, very often drawing “classics”, by others. This is an impressive book, both in its large format (larger than A4 and more than 260 pages) and its comprehensive sweep of contemporary aspects of drawing and sketching. There’s a heady mix of materials, unusual drawings and modern takes on conventional subject matter. Other artists’ drawings she uses are noticeably different from other similar instructional books.  

The initial chapter, covering traditional content such as drawing books and paper, sets the scene for a journey of personal discovery via sketching and drawing. Highlights for me were the accessible sketches of insects in a variety of pen and inks (p.34-37), an excellent chapter on Plants and Gardens and the variety of approaches demonstrated in Architecture. 

Objects & Instruments feeds directly into the trend for object drawing and there you’ll find Composition, Negative Space and Tonality matched with the distinctly innovative such as drawing with wire. The pages on Hands and Feet make you want to draw them, especially if imitating her work in compressed charcoal and ‘bracelet shading’ on toned paper. Modern fashion is included in the chapter on Costume (including a double-spread on shoes!). Abstract Line certainly pushes the envelope, exploring semi-abstraction and collage. It’s traditional to end instructional drawing books with drawing from the imagination and Simblet links this content with brushes and brushwork.

All the traditional genres are there, but there’s a modern twist on them all. An extremely well-disciplined student who follows each of the directives to their logical conclusion (e.g. learning about perspective by drawing imaginary spaces drifting into the distance, or exploring ‘writing time’ or ‘Chants and Prayers”) will benefit enormously from the experience. Those with less rigour will simply be inspired by the munificence of mark making on display.

A book full of passion, exploring the imaginary and the fictitious through drawing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: