The School of Art: Learn How to Make Great Art with 40 Simple Lessons is a simple little book that offers more or less what it says on the title. (Personally, I found it far more useful on how to look at and then appreciate Great Art than how to make it… but I am lazy.)
In it, we meet the Professor of Ideas, the Professor of Form, the Professor of Senses, the Professor of Making, and the Professor of The Planet. By their powers combined, they will be teaching Art Theory and the book is surprisingly engaging and, for me, exceptionally educational.
The first handful of lessons are things that you probably have down already. How to make a straight line. How to make a curved line. Making shapes. Culminating in the old-fashioned “how do you draw a 3-D cube using only 2-D lines” lesson. From there, lessons on tone and shading that can make a drawing of a circle look like a drawing of a sphere.
And then colors. Concepts begin with the color wheel and move through stuff like tint and complimentary colors and contrasting colors. They go through some simple optical illusions that include how you can make one color look like two different ones by using different backgrounds and the same trick in reverse: two different colors to look similar by using different backgrounds.
And then things *REALLY* start taking off (it’s around here that I started saying “Hey… I didn’t know that…”). They get into concepts like Composition and how Composition relies on perspective and proportion and positive/negative space and symmetry and balance how you can use these concepts to draw peoples eyes to and away from various things. Each lesson builds on previous lessons. How can you use alignment to bring order to composition. How can you then use repetition in your alignment to give the illusion of movement?
And then, from there, they tie everything together. How can you think visually? How can you take your thinking visually to use what you’ve learned about art to tell a story? How can you use it to catch people’s eye and persuade them to look? Perhaps even to change their mind about something?
This is a simple book with simple lessons that build on each other that will have your kids haranguing you to go down the aisle in the store with all the art supplies in it (and then, eventually, to the craft store).
On the surface, it’s a kids’ book. But I learned a lot from it too. You should check it out.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?