Tag Archives: How-To

Review: DRAWN ON THE WAY by Sarah Nisbett

Drawn on the Way. Sarah Nisbett. The Quarto Group. 2021. 128pp. $22.99

Editor’s Note: This book is ready for pre-order purchases. Available in the US as of 12/21/21.

Sarah Nisbett had an idea on how to cope with the subway ride to work: sketch the world around her! This simple act of expression has opened up a whole new world for her and now it can do the same for you. Nisbett’s explorations in sketching have led to her first how-to book. There are numerous books on how to do just about anything and that’s just how it should be. We all love them and we take from each whatever we need. In the case of Nisbett’s book, you really feel like you’ve got a friend who is hanging out with you and will get you to pursue that dream of drawing you’ve been meaning to get around to. What’s kept you? Fear of failure? With this book, there’s absolutely no pressure. It’s a very comforting approach with real world workshop exercises you can do anytime and anywhere, even on a subway ride to work!

Nisbett’s approach is compelling because she makes no claims to being an expert. In fact, in so many words, she might say she’s only a certain number of steps ahead of a reader at a beginner’s level. That’s not true but I could see her offering that up, as if wading into a pool and telling friends the water is fine. Maybe that’s the best metaphor I can offer. But Nisbett is an expert in the sense that she’s naturally, over the years, developed her own simple and straightforward methods that work for her–and can certainly work for you if you’re new and are ready to dive in. I should also make clear that, if you are an experienced artist, this book is also for you given its theme of creating quick drawings on the fly.

I think the magic to this book owes a lot to its conversational framework. This is an easygoing step-by-step process. The book begins, like any good conversation, by setting up the parameters: the tools you’ll need; the mindset to get into; learning the basics; and a bunch of wonderfully quirky specifics. Here’s a perfect example: Nisbett guides the reader into a whole new way to look at still lifes: talk to your still life and get to know it! Yes, why not? Objects have feelings. And, in fact, objects do have feelings. Every space, and every thing, we interact with has an energy. And, believe it or not, that energy will reveal itself in your drawings. This is a wonderful concept to nurture no matter what your skill level.

So, it’s great that such an accessible book is out there just waiting for aspiring artists. And, as I’ve said before, it’s more than okay for folks to call themselves artists. You know, once those training wheels come off, people usually don’t have a problem calling themselves cyclists, at least on some level. Maybe you don’t have any plans to enter the Tour de France but you still ride a bike. You can definitely be an artist. People hunger to be creative more than not. So, that’s where books like this come in. Yes, the water is just fine. Take a leap of faith and jump right in!

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Filed under Art, Drawing

HOW-TO GUIDE: How to Become the Artist You’ve Always Wanted to Become, a Reintroduction

Chrysler Building

Over the years, I’ve done a number of process posts where either I just show you my work, or show you how I created it, whether visual or literary or whatever. Being an artist is not just one thing, right? Seems to me a good time to do a bit of a reintroduction here. I’m going to be looking over things I’ve done in the past, sharing new things, and gearing up for a number of new process posts going into the end of this year and into the next. We’re looking at everything. And this is while I’m still working my way to completing some current projects!

This leads me to a quick Top Ten list.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MOTIVATE YOU TO CREATE ART–or ANYTHING?

  1. A deadline. If there is some kind of deadline, that always gets my attention.

  2. Curiosity that develops into an obsession. You develop a passion! Who knew?

  3. Feeling competitive. Okay, maybe not the best reason but, hey, a bit of gusto never hurt.

  4. Breakthrough. You have figured something out. An epiphany. You are compelled to create!

  5. Drop your inhibitions. You stop putting yourself down and clear away any doubts!

  6. Need to impress. So, you’ve fallen in love and want to impress that someone special. Why not?

  7. Others are looking up to you. What about that special someone in your life who already believes in you?

  8. Courage. Maybe there’s nobody special at the moment to cheer you on but you find courage on your own!

  9. Making up for lost time. Where did the time go? Seriously, where did it go? So, you hop into action.

  10. You discover this feels good! The very act of creating is intoxicating. Now, you’re on your way!

Here I am drawing Grand Central Terminal.

What I’m getting at, for the purposes of this post, is that I want to do my best to get some good solid process features out soon. You know, “How-to” sort of stuff. I am constantly learning new things from various sources. I see a lot of fun and interesting “how-to” books and gurus out there. My conclusion: there’s always room for another person to share their work, tips and insights! I’m just that kind of person. I won’t promise what happens next here but I’ve got a nice track record of following through. Heck, I’ve done more posts right here on this blog than most people I know. So, yeah, I’m good for it. I just gave you a top ten list. Not bad, huh? We’ll do more. That I can promise.

New York Public Library

Anyway, with all that said, I’m thinking a lot of my activity here on this blog and elsewhere could add up to some sort of book that I could share with you that speaks to what I’m doing. It would be an initial step towards what I’m envisioning. It would be the first in a series of books that explores the passion of creating art and storytelling, a nice mix of work, tips, and insights. I’m always learning, always thinking. Also, I should add here that I’m gearing up for a big trip. It is something that has involved a bunch of behind-the-scenes planning with a little help from sponsors and friends. That will be revealed as we progress down this journey. Basically, what I hope will happen is that, at least, a number of successful travel and art blog posts will result. That’s the first step.

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Filed under Art, How-To Guide, Self-Help, Travel