THROWBACK THURSDAY: REVIEWING A REISSUE
Seeing this book in the ARC queue at Netgalley really brought back some great memories for me. As a middle schooler, bent on a career in art, I would wander in to the one craft store in town and head first to the spinner rack where thin “How To Draw …” books were displayed, and thumb through them, trying to glean as much as possible because I never had the money to buy the book. Then I’d get a gum eraser and a couple of new nibs for my ink pens, and head home to try to draw what was in the books. I swear that I remember this particular book. And given that it was first published in 1959, it’s possible that I did look through this back in the early 1970’s.
The book is only a few pages thick, with a little bit of writing explaining the process, and then a number of sketches. I tried making a few sketches myelf, based on what I read and what I saw with the printed drawings. I tend to sketch pretty lightly, so it may be difficult, even with these photographs, to see what I managed to do.
As you might be able to see, there’s a reason I am not making a living as a professional artist!
Although titled “How to Draw…” the book is really more a primer. It’s to be used to get some essential constants, a base, for drawing these animals. A couple of well-placed circles of varying sizes are mostly all that is needed to get the basic animal shape.
One of those most interesting aspects of Zaidenberg’s approach is his comment on how important it is to get to know the subjects. He advises the budding artist to spend time with the animals and to get to know them in order to capture their character. This is actually quite brilliant advice, and not typically one you’d find in a ‘how to’ book of this sort.
While dogs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, cats are generally much the same. Here Zaidenberg focuses on the mood of the animal and the slinky, fluid movement of cats. Observing cats is most important to capture a cat’s mood.
While it might be more difficult to observe horses for the average artist, it’s still important to do what one can. The samples given here are quite attractive and exciting, but Zaidenberg falls a little in his advice on how to draw these. We still start with the circles — two large ones for the body and a smaller one for the face — and then some curved lines connecting the circles to complete the body, the neck, and the nose, but he doesn’t give us any advice on the legs. We’re left with observing what he’s already done.
It was fun to revisit this book — to look at drawing from a very basic, early premise once again. I recall relishing this and books like it when I was an early-teen, budding artist, and I suspect it will capture the passion of budding artists still today.
Looking for a good book? Hopeful artists will very much enjoy these lessons in how to draw dogs, cats, and horses.
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How to Draw Dogs, Cats, and Horses
author: Arthur Zaidenberg
publisher: Dover Publications
paperback, 64 pages