Thursday, 19 March 2015

Sketch! By France Belleville Van Stone (Watson Guptil)


Written and Illustrated by

France Belleville Van Stone

Published by Watson Guptil

We're always on the look-out for fun and inspirational art books on this blog. Both Charlotte and I love nothing better than sprawling out on the floor with all our art materials to paint, colour or sketch and once Charlotte's toddled off to bed I can often be found hunched over the Wacom Tablet or sketch pad scribbling some new "masterpiece" (I had to include that in quotes, my work isn't that great despite a couple of years at art college, trust me on this!)

France Belleville Van Stone's "Sketch" dropped through our letterbox courtesy of Watson Guptil and it's been an inspirational breath of fresh air. It's not written in some sniffy "I know better than yow" arty farty way, but speaks to us in a language we understand, and brims with enthusiasm from every single page spread.

The aim here is to show how easy it is to improve your sketching skills. Though colour is touched on here, the ultimate aim is to turn you into a sketching powerhouse by offering up some really simple advice and a whole plethora of idea triggers to get you sketching anything and everything from the world around you.

France is a very enthusiastic teacher through this book, and takes great pains to underline the most valuable lesson any artistic person must adopt from day one - the more you do, the better you will get. For my part I always carry a sketchbook and pencils around with me in my work bag (I seem to be able to do some of my best work while sitting in the car waiting for my daughter to be dropped off at school or waiting for my wife to finish work - such is the life of a family 'taxi driver') but you never know when you'll feel the need to sit down, zone out and have a good scribble (it's amazingly therapeutic and it's as close as I can get to zen moments in a hectic modern life).

I think one of my favourite aspects of the book is how down-to-earth and unpretentious France is. She obviously knows that the quickest way to put someone off dipping a toe into artistic waters is to go off on a huge rant about purchasing the highest quality materials, tuning your work environment or spending hours reading tons and tons of art books and I tend to agree - particularly on that first point because any family on a budget will always shy away from spending tens or hundreds of pounds on art materials that will inevitably go to waste!

Her choice of subjects is broad and it got me thinking about spending more time sketching my messy room, or my feet, or parked cars around the neighbourhood, or any subject that may seem ordinary and everyday until you start drawing it. Her manner is so relaxing yet passionate, and this book really has been utterly fantastic to leaf through for ideas. Awesome stuff, France!!

Charlotte's best bit: France's choice of drawing the weirdest and oddest cars from around her neighbourhood (and she does this so well!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A down-to-earth and inspirational sketching guide from a lady with a ton of passion for her sketching. Nigh on essential for amateur artists who want to up their sketching game a little

(Kindly sent to us for review by GMC / Watson Guptil)