About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Artistic Endeavors

Discovering Drawing
Second Edition, Student Textbook
Reading Level: 9th - 12th grade
Ted Rose and Sallye Mahan-Cox
Publisher: Davis Publications (April 30, 2006)
Hardcover: 230 pages
Rating: 5 stars of 5 possible.

Discovering Drawing contains an impressive array of art history and examples. Famous artists such as Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Rembrandt, Picasso, Michelangelo, and others are represented here along with contemporary artists, art instructors, and students. The concepts and terminology are well explained. There is a glossary in the back, which comes in handy for someone like me who can't remember where the term was introduced. On top of all this, there is a seemingly endless variety of drawing assignments from quick sketchbook material to more lavish and intense studio drawing assignments in a vast array of techniques with which the beginning artist can experiment and more advanced artists can have some fun.

Each chapter covers a few main objectives. Take chapter three, for instance. While the chapter covers basic shapes, observation and composition, there are several ways these topics are presented so that the student will more fully understand the concepts. Important points are highlighted in small sections labeled "Note It". If I were using a borrowed copy of this text book, many of the points in the "Note It" sections would be added to my notebook, as they are well worth remembering. Then there are the little sections labeled "Try It". These are usually quick sketchbook exercises and can be valuable sketching experience gained in a short time. Additionally, there are sections in each chapter labeled "For Your Sketchbook", "Studio Experience", "For Your Portfolio", and more. Discussion topics and - surprisingly - writing exercises are also presented in the text.

One feature of this book stands out because it is not something I have seen in many text books. Near the end of each chapter, there is an assessment rubric, giving the student a means to assess his or her own progress based on the studio assignment for that chapter. This is one of my favorite features of the text because, while working on any assignment and immediately afterwards, I nearly always have persistent questions on how well I have met the objectives of the assignment. Using the assessment rubrics in this book, those questions are answered, providing the student a measure of peace so that he or she can continue to the next assignment, confident that the objectives of the previous assignment have been mastered.

The true test of a text book is to use it for the intended purpose and see how well the book fits that purpose. I have done some reading and attempted a few of the drawing exercises of various complexities. The drawing assignments are varied and interesting, providing a foray into a variety of media to give the art student valuable experience. Over the last couple of years, I've invested money in a variety of art instruction books which vary in quality from practically worthless to exceptional; yet, even the better volumes on my shelves are far more limited in scope than this text. If I had known about this book before I started, I might not have purchased most of the others... or maybe even none of them. I am completely amazed at the comprehensiveness and compactness of this book.

Recommended: This is the book to purchase for all 9th - 12th grade art classes where the instructor is looking for quality instructional materials. I find it worth mentioning that the publisher also offers a variety of ancillary materials that schools using this book might consider purchasing to broaden the scope of this excellent art program. Additionally, this book is also highly recommended for those studying art on their own.