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How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students Review by Jennifer Smeltser

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Texture, Pattern, Optical Illusions
How to Draw Cool Stuff: Holidays, Seasons, and Events
Catherine V. Holmes
Library Tales Publishing
1 (800) 754-5016
511 6th Avenue #56
New York, NY 10011

When you try to draw, do your pictures usually look like stick figures or a lot of the abstract? Do not worry, because you are not alone. Most people do not have the innate skill to be an artist. An encouraging fact is that everyone has the potential to become an artist. Artist, teacher, and youth advocate, Catherine Holmes, has written the How to Draw Cool Stuff book series that will bring out the artist in you.

Holmes has been studying and creating art since an early age. Her skill and knowledge of art has evolved over the years, as well as her love for the same. Through the How to Draw Cool Stuff series, Holmes makes it easy for the novice and familiar artist to join her in a world where people can express themselves creatively. She also addresses the important question, “Why is art important?” For those of us who already understand the importance of art, we need no explanation. For others, the following are some of the benefits Holmes shares:

  • “seeing something come together from start to finish”
  • “creative outlet”
  • “improves academic achievement”

Although there are others, those are benefits for everyone. So, regardless of your level of drawing skill or experience, you too may learn something from the books.

The books may be used in any order, but starting with the “A Drawing Guide” would probably be best. If you are new to drawing, it will be a great introduction and a review for those who already have experience.

How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students

This book is geared toward students and teachers. It is a great beginning book for students new to drawing with lessons that will appeal to them. Holmes also offers tips for teachers on how to incorporate art on a limited budget and schedule.

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Textures, and Optical illusions

This book is a step up from the drawing guide. Students are using many of the skills learned in the guide to complete lessons. The lessons are more challenging as you hone techniques like shading and add more detail to pieces with texture and pattern ideas.

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Holidays, Seasons, and Events

This one is fun and kind of cool. You may draw yourself through the months of the year and the seasons that pass. Some of the lessons include drawings of the activist Martin Luther King, Jr. for January, the familiar hands with earth for April, a yummy ice cream waffle cone for August, and the historic Plymouth Rock for November. This edition may easily be adapted to your school by following the monthly art lessons.

Each lesson begins with Know, Understand, Do, and Vocabulary sections. Holmes explains the goal of the lesson, provides tips and further detail about what the student will create, gives instructions on drawing the lesson, and includes definitions of key words that help the artist better understand the lesson goals and techniques used.

Holmes includes step-by-step instructions and encourages artists to follow the steps in order. Doing so will help students become better artists, which will reflect in their work. The approach Holmes takes is basic enough for a novice to understand and detailed enough for a more experienced drawer to challenge themselves. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and understand. She does stress students should put off tracing the images shown in the lessons before really trying to draw on their own. Students may not complete the books ready to draw a picture worthy of hanging in the Louvre, but they may become more familiar with their creative self.

The How to Draw Cool Stuff series is a wonderful collection of drawing lessons for a wide skill range of artists. Teachers are reminded they do not have to be skilled artists to include art in their classroom. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and be creative. A student working through these books will gain a good understanding of the value and pleasure of art. They will also acquire the ability to draw.

-Product review by Jennifer Smeltser, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2017