"An inventive and intelligent, yet accessible, approach to drawing; recommended for everyone from amateurs to professionals."– Kirkus Reviews
Spears explores how drawing involves the neurological process of vision as much as it does the movement of the pencil in the artist’s hand.
Spears, an artist, instructor and poet, begins her first instructional book with a simple visual exercise, setting the tone for an interactive reading experience. Although the author acknowledges that some readers might not complete the drawing assignments, they nevertheless represent the heart and soul of the book. At its core, this is a drawing curriculum, and the book only fully comes to life when the reader takes pencil to paper. Spears is interested in the neurobiology of sight, frequently alluding to recent findings—most via functional magnetic resonance imaging—about what kinds of visual experiences make certain areas of the brain ignite with activity. “The visual brain sees,” Spears writes, “and sometimes loves what it sees and calls it ‘beautiful.’ ” That visual passion is hard-wired into our biology, she argues, and it is only the self-criticism, baggage, prejudices and assumptions we bring from the outside world that prevent us from translating that passion into art. The baggage, she says, is “around you and ready to encourage, discourage and generally interfere with your present efforts.” Spears’ heartening philosophy and approach are appealing and accessible (even if the neurological terminology gets a little weighty at times), and it’s easy to see that her assignments might be as useful to seasoned professionals as to beginners. Her own drawings, interspersed throughout the book among student illustrations, are lovely and sensitively wrought, giving credence and weight to her role as an instructor. There are moments when her exercises and instruction seem a bit overly prescriptive—for example, defining her philosophy of vision as empirically “accurate”—but overall, the book is welcoming and expansive. In an added attraction, numerous poets and philosophers offer words about art and vision, which are as inspiring as Spears’ own illustrations.
An inventive and intelligent, yet accessible, approach to drawing; recommended for everyone from amateurs to professionals.