• Megan Elizabeth

Book Review - "Drawing and Painting Animals with Expression by Marjolein Kruijt

Hello everyone and welcome to my first book review!

In the last 20 or so months of being a coloured pencil artist I have gathered quite a few books on art, techniques and art business. It can sometimes be a minefield to find the book that covers what you are looking for or is aimed at the correct level - so I thought I would help this process by reviewing the books in my collection and new ones that I get along the way!

This review is for a beautiful book by Dutch artist Marjolein Kruijt entitled "Drawing and Painting Animals with Expression".

I was given this book for Christmas by my boyfriend after it popped up on my Amazon suggestions. I read this in two days which is absolutely unheard of for me (I usually read a book over several weeks)! This was down to two reasons; firstly I really enjoyed the book and wanted to just sit and read it and secondly there are a lot of images and not as much text (more on this later).

The book is neatly divided into sections starting with a good 'general' section discussing materials, drawing and sketching techniques, using photographs and developing your own style. The artist and book uses a variety of mediums throughout which is really good to give a broad range of techniques (the book describes; charcoal/pencils, inks, pastels, oils and watercolours). The drawing and sketching techniques was especially interesting and one of the first parts of this book to really get my thinking about my own art and my development. The artist tends to sketch and create her own compositions rather than rely on reference photos. In my art journey so far I have relied almost completely on reference photos and the artists I have learnt from always use a photo with the general feeling that it is essential to follow a reference for the correct colours, lighting, etc. This book has show that this is not the case and introduces ideas on using a mix of sketches and references to create artworks. I would have loved more detail on this technique (I would love a whole book on it!) but this is not the purpose of this book. This is the main negative I have with this book - it introduces some fantastic ideas and concepts that really got me thinking - but just didn't give enough information or go into enough detail for me. The text sections throughout the book are quite short which limits the amount of details that can be given, as this book relies more on visual images and captions throughout.

Following this are sections on creating artwork of cats, dogs and wildlife. These each have a good range of subject matter and interesting ideas are raised throughout - such as the use of backgrounds, colour theory and composition. Again I found these ideas incredibly inspirational and made me think about my artwork and the way my portraits 'tell a story'. This is definitely something I want to develop myself. Again, however, because of the scope of the book there were only small mentions of these ideas and I was left wanting more information throughout. The artworks used for these sections of the book are truly stunning and there is a wide variety of subjects shown which is excellent. The artist goes into some detail on techniques and has some useful tips - although much of the advice seems to be along the lines of practicing and improving observation skills.

Finally is a section of step by step tutorials in a variety of mediums and subjects. I haven't had chance to have a go at any of these myself but they seem to be good tutorials. They are short as you would expect from a more generalised book, but seem o have enough detail to be able to complete the artworks well. They are a good 'bitesize' tutorial and seem to be a good introduction to different mediums and some new techniques.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it a fountain of creative ideas and inspiration. It was an excellent starting point for getting me to think about my development and the future of my artwork to then go and research further into certain areas and techniques. It is not a large book and hasn't got a huge amount of text which limits the scope of what can be covered. All in all I think it does a good job of introducing a range of concepts and techniques using a wide variety of different subjects and mediums to appeal to a wide variety of artists. I would recommend this book for intermediate artists wanting inspiration and ideas on how to develop their artwork or for more experienced artists looking at trying a new medium.

Overall I rate this book 3.5 stars for being an enjoyable an inspirational read but left me wanting more detail in the concepts.


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