This book popped up on Amazon as a recommendation after I’d been browsing some other art books. I was intrigued and added it to my wishlist with the intention of going back in a few days and buying it… in the end it was a week before I went back to my wishlist, and to my astonishment the book was no longer available through Amazon, and secondhand copies in the marketplace were going for upwards of £50. I hunted around online and it wasn’t in stock anywhere, what on earth was going on? The book was first published in February, how could it possibly be out of print already?
I was intrigued because the book looked interesting, and I hadn’t found a single bad review of it, so I asked to be notified when it was available through Amazon again and eventually, at the beginning of June (a good two months after I’d first seen it on Amazon), I received an e-mail telling me it was in stock. I didn’t dither, I went straight to the site and bought it.
It took just two days shy of a month to arrive, turning up the day before I was due to go on holiday, and to my woe it was too big and heavy to even consider taking with me. I was more than a bit frustrated and wondered if this book was going to be worth all the effort of hunting it down.
The short answer is YES.
Looking through sketches done by other artists is like crack for me. I love to see the different styles people have, the materials they use, and to immerse myself in their view of the world. Being a city girl born and raised I especially love sketches of urban settings, so this book really is perfect for me.
If you’re looking for a ‘how to’ book then you should probably stop reading this review and find something else, because The Art of Urban Sketching is certainly not going to teach you how to draw. It does have a little section entitled tools for your portable studio, but that’s just a rough guide and just shows you some examples of what various artists have in their sketch kit. It’s always interesting to see what other people choose to use, but the lesson here is that every artist is different, and you should develop your own distinct style both in terms of your work and the tools you use to create it.
The layout of the book is good, and I like the style of it: the contents pages are quirky and although that may seem like a small detail I felt it set a good feeling for the rest of the book.
The book “transports you to more than 50 cities, from Seattle to Sydney, spanning every continent and 30 countries” and it really is a wonderful journey (although I’m suprised and disappointed that Prague isn’t in there!). The sheer variety of styles is both breathtaking and inspiring, and although this is not a how-to type book the artists do provide little tips and insights into the way they draw.
About three quarters of the book is devoted to the journey from country to country, but the last part is full of suggested themes to help inspire you, including skylines, construction sites and seasons of the year.
Each theme is illustrated by the work of different artists and show how a different theme can be given a different feel depending on the style.
This is a cracking book and if you share my fascination with sketchbooks then you must get a copy. I couldn’t put it down once I’d started it and I’m sure I’ll be dipping in and out of it for years to come.
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