15 September 2016

[art] I'd Love To Draw: The Lost Andrew Loomis Treasure

First, a bit of a mea culpa, in the last missive about Loomis I said the next time we talked about him, we'd do a little more delving into the book Fun With A Pencil. We will, but this got under my skin, so we'll be going there first.

Of the number of art instruction books Andrew Loomis produced in his lifetime, there was still one out there that never made it, at least, not until the aegis of Titan Books arrived on the scene. This book, I'd Love To Draw, has been called a lost masterpiece and now it's here in all its rough beauty.

Just because it's unfinished does not mean it's undone, however. Titan and its collaborator, the award-winning illustrator Alex Ross, have taking the unfinished work and knitted it into a coherent and highly informative whole. The approach is different and rather refreshing; the rough drawings left behind by Loomis take on an illuminative quality that the best work-in-progress sorts of illustrations do.

I always love works-in-progress. Finished art is magnificent, and rightly so, but as someone with a technical eye it's a little like dissecting a specimen in biology. WIPs are the bone, sinew, and organic mattter of the work, and they have a rawness and vitality that sometimes teaches without words. I'd Love To Draw is full of this vim and vigor.

The book traces a familiar trajectory from the beginning building blocks to more advanced areas. Part one familiarizes you with basic forms. Part unleashes the learner to start trying different things and branch into cartoon-people drawing. Part three brings the aspiring artist to the level of artist who sketches for fun, and from there, as many artists know, all things are probable, or at least possible.

The drawings, as I mentioned, are rough and ready, but still communicate in the inimitable Loomis style, as does this spread that has to do with that essential artistic concept, perspective:

The spreads are bursting with the enthusiasm of a teacher who knows that if you pick up what they are putting down, you'll open yourself up to a world of wonder and fun, which is typical of the motivated art teachers I've met in my time.

If you work at it, you might do art with the perspicacity of this fellow here:

In the text next to the drawing of Einstein above you can see the insight which, at least partially, led to the gelling of the 'ball and clay' idea that informs the beginning of Fun With A Pencil.

The marginal notes, found through out the illustrations to plan the finished product, bring a definite sense of charm and unmistakable authenticity.

I'd Love To Draw was created some time in the late 1930s, so if it seems familiar, it's probably because it helped define much of the paradigm of the modern art instruction volume, in its simple-to-complex, friendly encouraging style. The idea of creating things out of blocks seems to anticipate works like De Rayna's How To Draw What You See, for instance.

If you go no further than getting this Loomis volume, then you'll be equipping yourself well for any sort of artistic path you want, be it for pleasure or for future profession. This be your gun and camera.

Publisher: Titan Books (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1781169209
ISBN-13: 978-1781169209
Retail: $39.95

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