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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best how-to book on drawing -- bar none
In high school, my best friends were the Artist and the Musician (I was the Writer), and while I learned to produce something approaching music, I was never able to draw anything recognizable. I never wanted to paint in oils or acrylics, or anything that advanced; I just wanted to be able to create good representational drawings and sketches. This apparent artistic...
Published on Dec 1 2001 by Michael K. Smith

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book - not for me
The title, Keys to Drawing is probably well chosen but I wish it had been titled "Keys to Drawing if you want to draw the human form." I find this a flaw in art education as art traditionally taught drawing the human form as its basic curriculum. But I wanted a book that would teach me to draw, not study hand and foot anatomy. Dodson does teach the reader to draw but...
Published on Sept. 29 2011 by Amazon Customer


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best how-to book on drawing -- bar none, Dec 1 2001
By 
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
In high school, my best friends were the Artist and the Musician (I was the Writer), and while I learned to produce something approaching music, I was never able to draw anything recognizable. I never wanted to paint in oils or acrylics, or anything that advanced; I just wanted to be able to create good representational drawings and sketches. This apparent artistic inability has been a deep annoyance to me for more than thirty years -- aggravated by all the people who insisted that "anyone can learn to draw." Unable to find a class for adult beginners anywhere, and being the autodidact type, I've tried to teach myself from how-to books. I've read through dozens of them and have spent serious time trying to learn from at least five or six, but none of them turned out to be very useful, at least not to me.

Then I happened across Dodson's book and everything changed. He doesn't spend the whole first chapter describing the tools you need. He doesn't launch into a zen discussion of the "is-ness" of art or play amateur psychologist. He just tells you to sit down, cross your legs, and draw your feet -- and he explains, in very simple terms, just how to go through the process. Look, hold, draw. Look, hold, draw. And it works, it really does. I'm sure all this is old hat to you artists out there, but Dodson is exactly the sort of teacher I've been looking for all these years! There are about fifty exercises on methods and techniques throughout the book and I'm taking my time with them. After three months, I'm about a quarter of way through the book, and my sketch book is looking pretty good. I've learned to restate rather than erase, and I'm getting along just fine with two pencils (HB and 4B) and a Micron pen. I cannot recommend Dodson's methods too highly to anyone who, like me, just wants to learn to draw!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Woefully under-rated classic, April 6 2002
By 
Atomic Grrrrrl (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
One night, after struggling with painting for about three years in art college, I suddenly learned to paint. It was amazing, like one of those "Eureka!" moments, where one second you're totally clueless and the next moment, you finally "get it." The following day, I was just as confused about my sudden improvement as my painting teacher was, and could only mumble "I don't know," when he asked me why I was painting well all of a sudden. It was only later when I realized I had learned to paint because of Dodson's book.
Why does Dodson's book work? For one, he demystifies the drawing process. Unlike other books that teach people that drawing is some mysterious, magical process that they can never hope to learn unless they are extremely talented, he encourages readers to believe that anyone can draw. In other words, he shows that drawing is not the possession of the Anointed Few, but a skill that we all can develop, regardless of how little talent we have. (In fact, in the book he presents an early picture of Van Gogh's before he became an art master to show that some of the many famous painters who have been viewed by history as having been born talented were really regular people who got that way by developing their drawing skills from "the very bottom.")
The second reason why this book is terrific is that it's downright practical. There are no other drawing books I know of, with the exception of those written by people like Burne Hogarth, that actually explain so clearly the process of drawing. This book will open your eyes. Even if you never become a brillliant draughstman like da Vinci, just reading this book through once will make you a better drawer.
Thirdly-- and here is the key-- what is so beautiful about his book is that it is a combination of art theory and art instruction WITHOUT the right brain/ left brain jargon of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. As revolutionary as Edward's book was, the biggest problem with it was that it introduced a lot of scientific and psychological verbiage that may have gotten in the way of learning drawing for the absolute beginner. (The best analogy about DOTRSB I can give is that it was like teaching people how to turn on a light bulb by introducing them to the basics of electrical wiring). If you enjoyed that book, yet felt that you needed something that went straight to the point, then Keys to Drawing is the book for you. Dodson's book cuts right to the chase, and in a very relaxed, informal way. The exercises are fun, the advice understandable and practical, and the writing encouraging. I highly advise that anyone hoping to learn to draw read this book; the lessons you'll gain from it will last a life time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, insightful and effective, Nov. 26 2009
By 
Parka (Singapore) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
Length:: 0:28 Mins

Here's a pretty good book for anyone who's thinking of picking up drawing. Bert Dodson has written it in a crisp straightforward manner. The are 55 keys of drawing, introduced at a very comfortable pace. Alongside are 48 easy-to-follow lessons.

The examples are all sketches from Bert Dodson, his students and selected pieces old art masters. They are all pretty sketchy but this book isn't about techniques on realistic drawings. It's also not about specific technical rendering techniques, although some are briefly introduced.

This book is really about the approach to drawing, which aims at helping students tackle any subjects confidently.

The principles are very similar to The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence. I prefer this book as the lessons are shorter but effective, and the book can be picked up at anytime after reading for some inspiration.

This book is recommended to beginner artists.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best, April 25 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
I am a professional artist. I began art teaching 6 years ago. My students have progressively gotten older so the challenges of teaching drawing increase. When I first began teachin, I found the Kaupelis book which has been a bible for me. It was also obvious to me that my teachers used the Kaupelis book back in the early 80's.
But back to the "Keys" book, there was one bad review of this book and I want to address that one first. It went on and on about how bad the drawing examples were in the book. If you are anything like me, by the time I get the book I forget what the reviewers wrote specifically. My first reaction to some the drawings was that they were pretty bad, but this book is excellent despite this.
What the first high school teacher writes is right on the money. This book is thorough and I find myself referring to it more than all of my 25 drawing books (smile) I have in this house... and am most enthused with my lessons that are inspired my the "keys", which improves my teaching even more.
He includes words on thought process while drawing. He breaks down drawing to these small, bite size ideas that are very easy to understand and translatable. Of course, as you teach, you learn. This is a book for reading, then application. If you want a book to look at filled with beautiful drawings, I suggest, John Biggers, Charles White and Pontormo.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and thorough, Sept. 13 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
I looked over and purchased KEYS TO DRAWING on the recommendation of one of the reviews here. I don't have the resources or time for an art class, but I like to sketch for a few spare minutes a day. The book is perfect for someone like me.
Dodson teaches the basics with an emphasis on relaxation and creativity. You really learn how to think about drawing. His exercises are designed to help you master skills (composition, proportion, shading) rather than the perfection of the end result. Oddly enough, the end result of all of these lessons are more perfect drawings!
Now that I'm finished with the book, I still go back mentally to each of Dobson's lessons to help me through the challenges of creating drawings, and I still work on the exercises. To me, this more than earns a 5 star review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I started to draw, May 11 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
I loved to draw as a little girl until my grade 5 art teacher held one of my "creations" up in front of my sister's class (she was very talented) and said, "can you believe they're sisters?". I was crushed and other than in art class, I never picked up a pencil again.
Fast forward 20 years where I see Bert Dodson's book "Keys to Drawing". I remembered how I used to love to draw and bought it on impulse. I started at page 1 and progressed through the book. The day my sister (the artist) walked into my house and seeing the drawing I was working on said, "nice drawing of Louis Armstrong" was one of the best moments of my life. By the way that was a drawing of Satchmo I was working on.
What I learned from Bert Dodson was that drawing is mostly about technique which anyone can learn. Although my masterpieces will never hang in a museum, they do hang in my home and my husband is very proud to have them there.
If you've always wanted to draw but thought you had no talent - buy this book. You will surprise yourself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant., Aug. 1 2001
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
anyone who would say that the drawings in this book are "sloppy" is CLEARLY MISSING THE POINT. Dodson teaches you to "loosen up" and stop the overly critical attitude that holds people back from learning to draw. There are PLENTY of examples of well detailed, carefully rendered drawings alongside the loose ones, showing that Dodson CAN draw skillfully and accurately. The loose drawings are just one style he adopts to show you the attitude of freedom and play that is KEY to tapping into your powers of creativity and observation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent drawing book for class or self instruction., March 1 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
As a high school art teacher I have used this book for 2 years in my art classes. It introduces concepts in each chapter and gives clear instructions and goals on drawing.
This is not a how-to book where your are told how to draw faces or animals. Each chapter builds on the previous chapter. Even experienced artists will find some of the exercises fascinating. I have drawn right along with my students and have found my skills improving
too. The text is clear and the drawings accompanying the text are very descriptive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book - not for me, Sept. 29 2011
By 
Amazon Customer (Quebec City, Quebec) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
The title, Keys to Drawing is probably well chosen but I wish it had been titled "Keys to Drawing if you want to draw the human form." I find this a flaw in art education as art traditionally taught drawing the human form as its basic curriculum. But I wanted a book that would teach me to draw, not study hand and foot anatomy. Dodson does teach the reader to draw but only if you're interested in spending lots of hours drawing the human form and its parts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keys to Drawing, Jan. 1 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
I first heard of this book while taking a sketchbook drawing course, and it has been a constant reference source for all of my drawing and painting efforts. The medium is drawing, but the instructions are universal -- seeing vs knowing, organizing a piece, composition, balance, unity, variety, movement, tension - there is nothing here that I can't use in other media. Must have for anyone developing their compositional eye.
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Keys to Drawing
Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson (Paperback - Aug. 15 1990)
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