Recommended Art Books
KEYS TO DRAWING, BY BERT DODSON
“THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!”
Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson – Cover
TITLE | KEYS TO DRAWING
AUTHOR | Bert Dodson
PRICE | £14.99
SYNOPSIS | “In this book, Bert Dodson shares his complete drawing system of fifty-five ‘keys’ that you can use to render any subject with confidence, even if you’re a beginner. These keys, along with dozens of practice exercises, will help you draw like an artist in no time.
You’ll learn how to:
Restore, focus, map, and intensify
Free your hand action, then learn to control it
Convey the illusions of light, depth, and texture
Stimulate your imagination through “creative play””
lilSOPHIE SAYS | Your future self will love you for reading this book :)
WHOSE THE BOOK AIMED AT?
Anyone. Seriously, if you’ve never drawn before or if you’ve been drawing for 100 years, this is the book for you :) Bert’s 55 keys and 48 mini lessons will improve your skills no matter your level. In 2013 I had no idea how to draw, this book got me started and made me believe I could draw anything. Because you can. This book makes you realise everything is just a shape, it’s all about how you see. Draw what you see, not what you know, and you can draw anything. I returned to the book in 2016 and learnt just as much the second time, as I did in 2013. This book is amazing.
LIST OF CHAPTERS
- The Drawing Process
- The Artist’s Handwriting
- Proportions: Taking the Measure of Things
- The Illusion of Light
- The Illusion of Depth
- The Illusion of Texture
- Pattern and Design
- Drawing and Imagination
“Your future self will love you for reading this book :)“
The truth is, this book is so tasty I could list any chapter as my favourite, but the final chapter, Drawing and Imagination, is so inspiring. It leaves you motivated and excited for the future. Almost as if the book is in fact just Bert getting your wings ready, so he can send you off in the final chapter, watching as you fly off into the sky, off on your adventure of self discovery.
The following photos show pages from the book, to give you a feel for how the book is set out.
It has to be the third exercise from chapter one – exercise 1-C, which has you drawing a pepper from your memory, and then a real pepper in front of you. So you’re first drawing from what you know, than from what you see. Showing that what you think you know, isn’t really what it looks like. It was really fun seeing how the mind works, plus, it gets the information in your head of how important it is to draw what is in front of you.
The following photos show some of my drawings from the various exercises in the book. They’re all from 2013, the first time I studied from the book. So many memories, it’s like looking through a photo album seeing these again, I can still remember drawing these like it was yesterday.
The book covers so many topics: seeing the world as shapes, proportions, perspective, light, depth … it’s almost like a bible for learning how to draw. Each chapter has about five or six little projects, so while you’re reading, you’re doing exercises to put into practice, what you’ve been learning. It works perfectly, and most importantly, it’s fun!
There was one point during this book that really sticks in my mind. I was doing one of the projects, drawing away, when I stepped back to see what my drawing looked like, and I felt so good I actually said out loud, “I can draw anything” … I had to stop what I was doing and take that in. If you knew me in real life, that is something I would never say, but this book honestly makes you feel like anything is possible. It’s empowering.
Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson covers so much, yet in such a effortless and effective way. I found it to be a joy to read, highly informative, inspiring and motivating. I honestly don’t think I could have found a more perfect book to start learning how to draw from. The fact I returned to the book three years later and learnt just as much the second time as I did the first, really reinforces how wonderful this book is. It makes you realise you can be as good as you want to be at drawing, all you need is a desire and practice.
A very empowering book.
“IN ADDITION TO TRUSTING OUR EYES, THE QUALITY THAT MOST DEFINES ANY OF US AS ARTISTS, IS CURIOSITY.”
– Bert Dodson
MY REREADING OF THIS BOOK
In January 2016 I reread Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson over a four week period. Each week I covered two chapters of the book: taking notes, completing the drawing exercises and writing about my experience. You can find these detailed writings in this five part mini series, which starts with this introduction
An overview of what each week will be about
An inspirational drawing from the first exercise in the book, by ‘a little artist from Europe’ who emailed me prior to this rereading.
chapter 1 (The Drawing Process)
chapter 2 (The Artist’s Handwriting)
Bert’s four rules of shape:
1. Draw Large Shapes First
2. Look for Enrichment Shapes
3. Tie Shapes Together
4. When you see a Trapped Shape, Draw it
chapter 3 (Proportions: Taking the Measure of Things)
chapter 4 (The Illusion of Light)
Bert’s discussion on three Sighting Strategies:
1. Finding the Midpoint
2. Using Plump and Level
3. Taking Comparative Measurements
chapter 5 (The Illusion of Depth)
chapter 6 (The Illusion of Texture)
four depth principles:
1. Overlapping Shapes
2. Diminishing Sizes
3. Converging Parallel Lines
4. Softening Edges and Contrast
THE FINAL WEEK
chapter 7 (Pattern and Design)
chapter 8 (Drawing and Imagination)
Bert’s discussion on what makes a good Composition;
Balance and Paradoxes
“The wisest mind has something yet to learn.”