The Drawing Lesson is an Art Course and Story in One…
In The Drawing Lesson young David stumbles across a woman drawing in a public park and he catches a glimpse of what a real artist can do. Then he proceeds to pester her, as only a youngster can, into giving him lessons. David is a determined and precocious young man, one might even say a bit pushy, but he has a real desire to learn and he keeps showing up begging Becky to teach him more.
To the author’s credit this book tackles all the topics they covered in my High School AP Art Class (yes I’ve taken art classes, yeesh.) The topics covered in the table of contents read like a course outline; shading, proportion, light and shadow, negative space. So much information and it’s presented in an engaging format.
The Story Runs The Show
David’s interactions with Becky are fun to watch, she really doesn’t want to teach this little boy art but his insistence and attitude are just to hard to turn away. And the reader gets the feeling that though she isn’t an art teacher, she really does enjoy passing on the knowledge. David, for all his enthusiasm, is still a tween (if not younger) he wants her help but also rails against her suggestions. Of course he comes around to her way of thinking in time to learn what she’s trying to teach.
My only issue with this book is a small one, the ease with which this young man befriends an adult he’s just met and the ease with which Becky associates with a youngster she doesn’t know or have permission to instruct. I would go nuts if I found out my son or daughter had spent time with an unknown adult. But that is also one of the things that makes the book work so well, it reminds the reader of that idyllic yesteryear. A time when people helped each other out, and adults (for the most part) weren’t immediately scary strangers.
So does it really teach art?
I think it does. The lessons are quick but detailed and they’re presented in a very natural order. Becky starts simply and introduces more complex techniques and ideas as the chapters progress. What I found impressive was the juxtaposition of the art styles. The characters aren’t rendered realistically but any panel that includes instruction is perfectly rendered, art book style.
The Bottom Line…
This is an excellent book to give to a young person (tween to teen) if they’re interested in learning about the technical aspects of art. I think the approach is such that most will enjoy the pace, style, and humor. Maybe enough to get past “being taught” things.
The Drawing Lesson gets a 4 out of 5. The relationship was a little hard to swallow but the level of instruction more than makes up for that.
The Drawing Lesson
by Mark Crilley
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill (July 5, 2016)