58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2013
I bought this for my mother-in-law as she is a really keen artist as well as being a great fan of Andrew Marr's. The book is exactly what I wanted - a perfect gift book for someone who's interested in drawing/painting/sketching and wants to understand more about the subject. Andrew Marr's writing is very engaging and I'm sure his own experiences as an amateur artist (such as his struggle with perspective in Venice) will inspire others who often feel thwarted by their frustrations. Reading about the role of drawing as his therapy post-stroke was incredibly poignant, and just goes to show how drawing/painting/sketching can be approached by so many people in so many different ways.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Short Book about Drawing
By Andrew Marr
I realised that this book was something special as soon as I picked it up. It is tactile with the texture of fabric and before I opened it I knew it would fulfil my expectations.
Andrew Marr obviously used his drawing skills from an early age to express his feelings and to depict what he saw. His recovery from a massive stroke was tempered with the fact that he did not lose his skills of drawing and painting but that he used it as a form of healing, therapy and at times dealing with loneliness when away from home.
Andrew associates happiness with his drawing and painting shown in the way he writes about his work, often linking to historical, philosophical ideals and influences by other artists.
This is a book worth reading as it shows the personal side of a man who is clever but humble.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As one who can barely draw a straight line or a curve without some assistance, I have respect for those with an ability to draw or paint. I had been taught the basics of several very different crafting techniques including glass work, engaving and potting but drawing and painting skills always eluded me. Having later worked with artists and designers in professional studios but not in the art department and having friends and relatives with considerable artistic skills, I know that some have been taught many of their practised techniques and others appear to have been born with them. Andrew Marr appears to be one of the latter and claims never to have benefitted from specialist tuition.
Known as and working as a journalist and in TV, his drawing and painting were a means to occupy himself during those lax hours whilst travelling, waiting for interviews and other odd moments that can occur although he was doing similar as a child. Having also benefitted from being able to travel to many locations, some well-known and others less obvious, in the course of his work there had been many such opportunities to put something other than words on paper. Offered similar situations and opportunities and if they lacked any ability to draw, others might well choose a camera.
The book's title is slightly misleading in that it contains relatively few drawings but rather more sketches or paintings, mostly using limited colour palettes and sometimes as few as three or four main colours plus the odd touch of black or grey for emphasis, shadows etc. Some drawings are caricutures whilst others are almost classical in concept. Not all involve 'scenes' such as landscapes and quite a few are of people at work, travelling or at rest. The skills shown are quite considerable, although the author prefers to deprecate them, and the textual contents benefit from the author's long service as a journalist.
It is unfortunate that, soon after completion of the book, the author suffered a major stroke which has left him partially paralysed and less able to work his skills as he once did. Although a few of the illustrations used are labelled as 'oil paintings' many offer no indication of the medium used although some were stated to being created on an iPad, and in his Introduction, Mr Marr tells how his abilities to work with traditional media had been affected by his stroke and its after-effects to be replaced with electronic methods.
The book may be considered as an autobiography that is limited to a single aspect of the author's life, one relating to his art, but it is not a 'how to' book and may therefore disappoint those who thought otherwise. Taken as is, it offers a considerable insight into one man's previously private and little-known skills. I know of few books that could equal it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I have to to say I'm not really a fan of Mr Marr but found this book full of charm.
It has history, excellent references and makes a good case for drawing as therapy.
I think we all enjoyed drawing or colouring as children.
Then it's simply something that many rarely do.
It certainly rejuvenated my interest in drawing and I am less stressed as a consequence.
A lovely looking book too, and in my opinion Mr Marr has a talent for drawing.
A recommended gift.
Marr puts himself down with exaggerated modesty; he states that he doesn't think he qualifies as an 'artist'.
However, I reckon he is a perfectly worthy artist, although his mate Hockney really should have explained to him how to use SEVERAL mirrors when attempting self-portraits, so one isn't looking DIRECTLY at oneself.
Like Hockney, Mr Marr has taken to using a tablet and app' to create pictures, and around half of his published images are in this format. They're mostly not my bag and look more like illustrative work than creative pieces to me. Still, there is a variety of his work included so there should be something for everyone; there's even a very enjoyable OIL painting of a tree with some cheeky foreground detail.
The book is physically very well made and has a nice canvas-like covering. I'd say that a few coffee-stains and thumb-prints would embellish rather than spoil its appearance. Read it down the boozer without a care!
This IS a short book and is an easy and pleasing read. It does stray a bit into 'What is art?' territory but not for any nauseating length of time. He states that drawing is perhaps as relaxing as smoking a joint in a warm bath (I wouldn't know -I haven't had a draw in years!). He then goes on to say that it requires nerve and strenuous concentration -a tad contradictory but I won't nit-pick. Oh, I just did.
The writing is uncomplicated and reads as if Marr is speaking naturally, sometimes with a glint in his eye, which raised a smirk or two from this reader.
He gives very specific references to endorse his opinions, naming works and artists as well as excerpts from books. This could be very useful indeed for philistines like myself who may be tempted to delve a little deeper into the subject. The references are noted in the (wobbly) margin right next to the relevant text, rather than hidden in a bibliography at the back. Being able to smash these notes into Google as one reads is great.
Marr states that he doesn't consider his work saleable and wouldn't exhibit his work (except for charity, p'raps) but I'd be surprised if he hadn't submitted works to 'open' exhibitions, maybe under a pseudonym, because he IS a cheeky chipmunk.
And if he's drawn the tree he likes in Devon so frequently, why can't someone have the opportunity to buy a sketch and hang it on the back of their bathroom door?
All 5 stars awarded.
[My Ref: Marr the Cheeky Chipmunk and some of his works. Feb 2014]
This is the sort of book to offer companionship to budding artists, who are often full of self-doubt. Andrew is very self-effacing about his own skills and the book has the sense of being a dialogue between the author and the reader as kindred spirits.
Whilst Andrew states he has never had lessons, you wouldn't know that was the case from the majority of sketches and paintings that have been reproduced in his short book. His self-portrait bears a strong resemblance to the person, which is no mean feat given the ability of the mind to alter reality.
As anticipated from the title, it is a short book but nonetheless an interesting read that can be completed over the course of an evening. I disagree with his view that his pictures are probably not saleable; he has an eclectic style that varies from traditional to abstract with something to interest most people.
We are treated to a look inside this particular artist's sketchpad with a variety of pieces of work from unfinished musings to fully completed paintings. I am no expert but I like Andrew's work and would love to see a more extensive publication of his portfolio in the future.
A book that informs, reassures and inspires anyone trying to make headway as an amateur artist.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This Is a nicely produced, attractive book. It has a lovely quality feel to it. Andrew Marr's odyssey into drawing gives some interesting insights and makes it feel attainable for anyone. It really does make you feel like you want to pick up a pencil and just have a go. It's nice to see this type of book written purely for the love of it. Marr's enthusiasm really does come across. This would make a nice present for anyone interested in a medium of drawing.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Andrew Marr's book is a total delight from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed it because I have just been reading Matthew Crawford's 'The Case for Working with your Hands' which Marr refers to in his book. Like Crawford, Marr sets out a case for using our hands, eyes and brain together to work on an engaging activity - whether it is for enjoyment, employment or edification - as a life-enhancing, or even a life-giving necessity.
Marr looks at historical aspects of drawing, particularly in European culture, and at how we categorise different types of drawing and art, and illustrates much of the book with his own art.
It should appeal to anyone who draws, or who would like to, or who is interested in drawing as art, as an integral part of human culture, or who is interested in reading about Andrew Marr's beliefs - I loved the book.
This book is exactly what it says it is - a book about drawing - it isn't to teach you how to draw, a collection of techniques or even really about how Andrew Marr draws, but it is about how having drawing as a hobby can enrich your life.
Andrew Marr takes us on a journey giving us insight into how drawing has brought joy and satisfaction to his life. It is, in parts, autobiographical, but is actually quite humbly written and he manages to put forward his enthusiasm for drawing incredibly well.
He describes various mediums from simple pencil and paper to using an iPad and makes you feel it is something that anyone can do and get pleasure from. If you are a lapsed doodler, sketcher or even artist, it may well give you the impetus to pick up your pencil (or pen or stylus) and start drawing. If you are a little frightened of the blank page, you may pick up some inspiration. Or if you are not artistically inclined at all, it is somewhat refreshing to read a book by a public figure about such a simple pastime.
Having watched Andrew Marr for many years in his various roles - and having found his battle to get back to fitness after a debilitating stroke inspirational - I was extremely interested to read this. Full disclosure - I cannot paint or sketch anything beyond matchstick figures; I do however fully recognize the urge to express yourself creatively beyond your day job, and Marr's love for his hobby definitely shines through. He's also suprisingly skilled, despite being clear that he's had no tuition or training. The physical product, with its feeling of textile and canvas, is pleasing to hold - so please don't bother with the kindle version.
There are three types of people who will enjoy this : anyone who has (or wants to have) a familiarity with art, anyone who has any admiration for Andrew Marr himself, and anyone who admires those who pursue their hobbies with a combination of seriousness and perspective. And if you're not in one of those groups, you're probably letting yourself down.