Monday, October 01, 2007

The Big Drawing Book Review

A new month and a new project! This month the project is The Big Drawing Book Review. At the top and down the side are images of some of the books I hope to be reviewing.

I like books a LOT and I have a serious addiction to drawing books - and I suspect a few other people may do too. So it seemed to me one way in which we could all add value to one another's drawing interests would be to review and write about the drawing books we've got - what they're about, how we rate them and who do we think they might suit best.

Everybody is very welcome to join in with The BIG Drawing Book Review (or BDBR for short).

Is there a book you think everybody should have - or maybe one which you think should be left in the bookshop? Take a look below at what I've suggested we might do when writing a review - you can then do as many or as few reviews as you like.

When you've completed a review just leave a link to the blog post containing your book review on this post or any of my subsequent book review posts for me to find. (Casey Klahn has already jumped the starting gun and has posted his first review of 'Wolf Kahn Pastels' here).

I will then periodically post a group of links on this blog - highlighting you and your blog and which book you've written about. I'll probably try and group links to books and the reviews as we go - basically do the tidy librarian bit! I'll wait and see what we get before introducing any category headings!

If I know you personally and you don't have a blog then I can offer you a guest reviewer spot on this blog. (Basically this means I already have a few people in mind for contributions!) Other bloggers might like to do likewise for people they know personally. This offer is not open to allcomers.

Please don't think that because one person has reviewed a book that there's no point in you doing a review. Quite the opposite! Everybody has a unique perspective and your opinion and review of a drawing book is of value (so long as it's 'legal, decent and truthful' otherwise known as suitable for publication!) and somebody is bound to relate to your review better than (say) one written by me!

Review and rate - things to highlight and do in your book review

You can read about lots of different approaches to reviewing books in my suggested guide to reviewing books. You can find it here - How to write a book review

I'm going to suggest that we try and have a very basic system when reviewing. So here's my suggestion - about which do please comment. It's early enough to make changes.
If possible, it would be helpful if every review covers the following:

Review the book
1) Basics: State basic facts about the book - title, author, publisher - and who the book is aimed at.
2) Content: Express your opinion about the content and say why.
3) Communication: Say how well the author gets the main messages across - bottom line is it a good read and did you absorb what s/he had to say?
4) Presentation: Assess whether it looks good and feels good.
5) Value for Money: Is it good value for money?
6) Overall quality: Would you recommend it? Is so, do you agree with the level of audience it's supposed to be pitched at?

Rate your book!
Finally, after making it clear who you think the book is aimed at, try and decide whether it rates:
5 pencils - go out and buy this book right now if you have the money. In your opinion, an essential book for anybody seriously interested in drawing and/or learning more about drawing.
4 pencils - a seriously good book about drawing; definitely one you want to own at some point - maybe one for the Christmas present list if you're broke
3 pencils - good effort but nothing which really distinguishes it from other books. It's just this author's take on the basics. The sort of book which is good while you are reading it but doesn't stick in your memory.
2 pencils - undistinguished in your view. For example: content may be a rerun of previously published books and/or remixed with a new front cover; presentation may not be particularly noteworthy.
1 pencil - buying this book would damage your wallet but is unlikely to enhance either your knowledge, skills or enjoyment. It may also hurt your eyes! (Unfortunately there are a few of these out there - although I'm assuming we've probably weeded through a few of these without buying!)
At the end I'm thinking along the lines of identifying the book with the most pencils awarded overall ie the most 'popular' (maybe?) and the book with the highest average pencil award (that's pencils awarded divided by reviews - but it has to have at least two).

Now I have a feeling that people may want to review their pencil awards so I'll only do the count at the end after you've had a chance to change however many pencils you've awarded! A good wayof giving yourself a baseline is to think about which is the best drawing book you own - and whether that is a four or a five and then use that as a baseline for everything else.

So that's where I've got with it so far. Do you have any views or comments? Any questions you'd like answered? Do please let me know.

I've listed below the books whose covers you can see in this post. I have a few more besides these........ ;)

Note: Back in August I announced that, as October is Big Draw month in the UK, I'd like to try and develop a project about drawing to support it which had the scope to involve bloggers in some way and came up with the idea of the Big Drawing Book Reviw. However I want to make it clear that this project has been initiated by me and is not registered with the Big Draw nor connected with it in a formal way. I read their terms and conditions and concluded that they might possibly be interpreted as being in conflict with the freedom of expression expected of decent book reviews. I'm checking this out. Plus their registration document also seems to be event/venue orientated rather than than internet orientated - which was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe I can come up with something which can be linked in for next year if people are interested?



  1. What a great idea Katherine. As we only have one of the books it's a bit difficult for me to judge , but I'm really looking forward to reading the reviews, so that I can choose the next one

  2. Julie - People can review any drawing book they already have (and the interpretation of drawing can be wide). It's certainly not limited to the ones on display in this post.

    I've included these partly because some at least may be less likely to be the ones on people's bookshelves!

    They're also there to give me a target and to make me feel guilty if I don't apply myself to getting some reviews done done this month! ;)

  3. I'm in! I am a drawing book addict and a self-taught artist. At any given time, I am studiously working through an art instruction book, trying to improve my skills. Is there any time frame for this? For example, the month of October?

  4. Oh - good question Laural - I didn't make that clear! Yes, ideally all reviews to be posted on a blog during October.

  5. This is an excellent idea - I just bought a couple of new drawing books for inspiration but also have Mark Leach's on Pastel which I was meaning to review in any case... will do so soon.

  6. Gesa - that Mark Leach book is really good for people who are not used to thinking about pastels as contemporary art - in a VERY contemporary way. I remember my jaw dropping the first time I saw his work - which was ENORMOUS at the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition

  7. Just want to let you know I just posted a book review on my blog ...

  8. Hi, just posted a review on my blog. Hope it's OK!

  9. And here's another one!

  10. Just in time for the end of the month, here's my last review in the Big Draw series:


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