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Keys to Drawing Paperback – Aug 15 1990

4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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  • Keys to Drawing
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 15 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891343377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891343370
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.2 x 27.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"This long-popular guide uses simple black-and-white pencil drawing illustrations to help beginners to develop their skills and dexterity through a series of short exercises." --Library Journal

About the Author

A painter, teacher and illustrator, Bert Dodson is the author of the best-selling North Light book Keys to Drawing. He's illustrated more than 70 children's books and worked as an animation designer for the PBS series Intimate Strangers.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Parka HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 26 2009
Format: 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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Format: 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.
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By A Customer on April 25 2001
Format: 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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Format: 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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