Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Book review: The Coloured Pencil Artist's Drawing Bible

Title: The Coloured Pencil Artist's Drawing Bible
Author: (Publisher): Jane Strother (Search Press)
Synopsis: Aspires to being a comprehensive guide to coloured pencils - but fails.
Who should buy this?: People wanting to see examples of coloured pencil artwork by different artists.
Who should not buy this? People new to coloured pencils who want to learn how to use them as a serious art medium. The book provides poor technical advice about tools and materials relevant to coloured pencils and only generic and very basic art advice. There are much better alternative books available.
  • This is the redeeming feature of this book and to my mind the only real reason for buying this book. There is a good range of coloured pencil artwork from a number of different artists
Think Again?
  • apparently written by somebody with little or no personal expertise in the use of coloured pencils.
  • apart from the gallery feature, most of this book is covered better by other books and/or is far too generic eg much of the advice is generic drawing advice and has little to do with the properties of coloured pencils
  • the tools and materials chapter is superficial and/or incorrect. It's a major weakness of this book for pencil artists interested in using coloured pencils as an art medium
  • the techniques articulated by the artists who have provided artwork for the gallery are not reflected in the rest of the book.
  • the chapter on Subjects recommends copying from 'copyright-free' stock photographs. The author appears to be unaware of UKCPS rules on use of photographs or the consequences for artists entering subsequent artwork in a coloured pencil society exhibition.
Summary: The Coloured Pencil Artist's Drawing Bible has its merits, however it's far too generic to be of interest to those wanting to become serious coloured pencil artists. It was very disappointing to find serious weaknesses in the discussions of tools and materials and techniques for working in this media. It would have been nice to see a recognised expert in the use of coloured pencils commissioned to write a book like this.

I do NOT recommend this as a book for those wanting to become coloured pencil artists.

This is a summary of a book review which I did earlier this year.

You can find my comprehensive book review here Book review: The Coloured Pencil Artist's drawing bible on Making A Mark.

Below is the conclusion I reached after reading and reviewing this book.

I'm not sure the publishers were clear what audience they were aiming at. If it was artists beginning to use coloured pencil then the book simply doesn't deliver in enough depth and as indicated above there are other books around which deliver better value for money. If it's people starting to draw then I guess it might explain the choice of author and the wealth of very generic material that it includes - but I can't help thinking such people would be more likely to buy any of the really good drawings books which are around. I'm afraid I can't recommend this book because of the serious weaknesses it displays in relation to the more technical aspects of drawing with coloured pencils and because there are much better books around which tackle the subjects covered in a more accurate and comprehensive way.

I think it's a great pity that the artists whose work has been included in this book haven't had the quality of their work matched by the art instruction on offer.
Book review: The Coloured Pencil Artist's drawing bible
Below I've included links to sites where I do recommend books to those wanting to become coloured pencil artists. Plus a couple of comments on the type of book which these days is often missing from bookshelves devoted to art instruction.

Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists
Find out about coloured pencils. This leading resource has information for everybody from experienced artists to beginners wanting to learn all they can. Topics include
  • tips and techniques for working with coloured pencils,
  • information about coloured pencil brands and associated products (CHECK OUT the poll - find out which make of artist grade coloured pencils is the favourite.)
  • coloured pencil societies,
  • coloured pencil artists and
  • forums where you can discuss coloured pencil matters with artists working in coloured pencils

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