Top critical review
27 people found this helpful
on 13 August 2013
I had wanted this book literally for years. I finally got my hands on a copy. Many years ago I used to be a competent teenage drawer. But then I gave it up. I now understand why. It went from being something that enthralled me and gave me something to immerse myself in, to something that I just didn't want to do anymore. I hoped this book would help me find answers. It did but not in the way I hoped.
I didn't like the exercises, I found them tedious and not very interesting. The bathroom cabinet exercise freaked me out. It was here that I realised that I would never draw, as I really did not want to be spending my time relentlessly looking looking looking (I know that makes me sound petulant but really it was an eye opener for me, and yes a major part of the act of drawing, so what did I expect? I don't know). It overwhelmed me to be expected to do so, and I found the concentration required impossible. I found the thought of it demoralising and overwhelming. I realised that I did not want to spend my life peering at objects - everyday ones like chairs and tables, relentlessly eyeing them up for angles, distances etc. I have actually been put off drawing rather than re-awoken into something that I used to enjoy so much. Frankly this book left me wanting to cry at my inadequacies where before, I had felt that as I used to enjoy my drawing I could again. I just needed a way in.
Maybe it was the way it was written. For instance talking about learning to drive as an analogy - I don't. Every thing seemed so proscriptive and formulaic, despite sounding like it was trying to be the opposite. Drawing IS a talent. I always knew it was about looking, and I used to be better at it but that time has passed. The talent is in looking and seeing and we certainly are not all equal in that. The propensity to do so is not the same in all of us, our levels of focus and engagement are different. It is here that I myself lack, and I can't give myself a new super conscientious concentrating personality if I don't have one and find the thought of it alarming.
It is disingenuous for everyone to always say that everyone can draw. That really isn't true for various reasons. I want to draw but I really don't want to engage in what seems to me like obsessive levels of observation with inanimate objects. My problem I know. That probably sounds extreme and silly but I can't and I don't want to. It's not just petulance but genuinely a discomforting feeling that I just can't get rid of. That is the realisation this book gave me. I'm a thinker and feeler and use my senses generally in life. But most of things that I see, don't get looked at that intensely. It makes me uncomfortable. I look, I enjoy I move on. I don't keep my gaze relentlessly stuck on one area, to move on only when I have taken it all in. It all seems a very scientific and methodical approach. Maybe if the exercises had engaged me more with the subject matter it would have helped, I would have enjoyed drawing and looking at plants more than a bagel or toothpaste. We get told to open the car hood and to draw the engine. I've haven't got a car and I would rather not do such a thing, it would make me scream in desperation. There are just too many engineer type things in this book, like motor bikes and steering wheels. Ultimately I suppose all these things are for drawing too, but I just didn't enjoy the process one little bit or feel engaged by the possibilities.
This book frightened me into self awareness of my issues but it chased me away from engaging with drawing, which surely is meant to be the point of the book? It left me more demoralised about the chance of improving my skills than anything else I've read, some of which instilled me with some optimism. I just feel very bleak after reading this book. It left me with an uncomfortable truth - drawing is hard work and I am too lazy to do it as the pay off seems too little for the immense effort required. I tried so hard to do the bathroom cabinet but I had to abandon it and I felt like a failure doing so. There are good ideas in this book about what to do with your drawing, but that supposes you are able to even try. I feel completely unable to after reading this book and rather miserable and demoralised about it.