Edgar Degas is known for capturing both the motion and emotion of a moment in his drawings, paintings, and sculptures. He was fascinated by the grace and power of dancers, and he drew them more than a thousand times! His ballerinas are full of action lines and seem ready to dance off the page or canvas. Some are even partly cut off at the edge. He liked to use unusual angles or focus, such as a dancer with her back to the viewer, to create a lifelike feeling. For the same reason, he sometimes drew a dancer scratching her back or ironing a costume.
Bright, colorful and highly appealing, the six-volume hands-on “Art Skills Lab” series encourages readers to unleash their creativity and try a variety of visual art media. Each title explains the elements of design (line, shape, texture, pattern and composition) as they pertain to the featured art form and profiles famous artists and their works as examples. Topics also include a brief history of the specific art form, the color wheel (warm versus cool colors, complementary colors, and tints and shades), materials and techniques. There are step-by-step instructions for 11 hands-on activities in each title as well as text boxes with additional information, tips, and ideas for extending the creative process. The authors encourage readers to examine works of art and to bring that awareness to their own creations. For the home artist, the projects require an initial outlay of money for supplies, especially for items such as watercolor paint, brushes, cheesecloth, brayers, etc., but many of the supplies can be purchased for little cost at dollar stores. Teachers would find this series useful as teaching tools for art lessons in the classroom. Abundant color photographs, not only accompany each of the steps in a project, but also showcase real life works of art. A table of contents, a glossary, an index and a list of books and web sites for more ideas and copyright-free images are included.
The importance of really “seeing” an object is emphasized in Drawing Arts Skills Lab. Following the basic information about design elements, drawing materials (chalk, colored pencils, pastels, markers and pens as well as suitable paper), primary and secondary colors, the art instruction begins with a simple doodling exercise. Readers will learn to draw by experimenting with contour lines, basic shapes and grid lines. Some of the techniques included in this title are shading in different tonal values, hatching to create shadows, gestural drawing to capture motion, overlapping to create perspective, and one-point perspective. Scribble art, still life and portraiture are a few of the projects children can try.
Interesting, educational and fun, the “Art Skills Lab” series is well worthy of purchase.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.