|1/2/13 Kuretake brush pen, S & B sketchbook|
“The drawing surface has been and always will be where the artist’s real education takes place. So if it’s learning you’re after, close this book and open to the pages that will really teach you what you want to know. Your own sketchbook.”
Those are the closing words of Nick Meglin’s book Drawing From Within – Unleashing Your Creative Potential, and that’s also the philosophical viewpoint that forms the basis of the book.
Meglin’s book was one of several drawing books that I had checked out from the library. After reading the others, which were typical “how-to” instruction books, I was surprised and delighted by Meglin’s completely opposite approach. If you are looking for step-by-step instructions, you will not find them here. Instead, you will find the author’s firm belief that drawing skills cannot be taught, followed by numerous drawing exercises intended to instill the pleasure of drawing for its own sake, which ultimately leads to self-expression.
|2/7/13 Velvet Black ink, Hand Book journal|
A former instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City as well as a former editor of MAD magazine, Meglin writes with humor, outrageous puns and a sheer love for drawing. “No one can teach you to draw,” he insists. “Where art education often fails is in the premise that drawing can be taught. It can’t. Then how does one learn to draw? One doesn’t! One draws! The education of an artist is the result of his or her experiences of drawing.”
The statement above was immediately followed by Meglin’s account of how this message was always met with groans from his School of Visual Arts students. Nonetheless, his “method” of helping students learn through experience led to more expressive work that also gave the students greater pleasure.
On every page are reproductions of works from sketchbooks of Meglin’s students, contemporary artists, Rembrandt and other old masters, and Meglin himself. The sketches are all so fresh, spontaneous and evocative that their makers’ joy in drawing is obvious.
The how-to-draw books I returned to the library. But after reading Drawing from Within, I went to Amazon.com and purchased a copy. Although I’ve always known that the only reason I draw is for fun, Meglin’s wisdom and bad puns will cheer me up whenever I got discouraged about my drawing skills. I also want to enjoy viewing the sketches again and again as examples of what results when drawings come from within.
(This review also appears on Amazon.com.)