Book review: Beginning Drawing Atelier – an instructional sketchbook by Juliette Aristides



This is a work book – guidelines, exercises, drawings to copy and a page next to each to do that. I have never copied other people’s work or tried for the photorealism some artists specialise in making so this was quite a challenge. Add to that the realisation not long ago that lefthanders make their marks in entirely the opposite direction to righthanders and I could see this was not going to be easy. Fortunately, the quality of the images to be copied – there are two da Vinci’s! – makes it clear that perfection is really not the aim, learning from mistakes is.

I learned a lot.

First, I found that I am capable of copying and doing quite a decent job of it in some respects. Second, doing that showed me where I so often go wrong with semi-profile drawings and heads at different angles. I haven’t fixed this by a long chalk but I know what I should be doing. Third, I discovered graphite powder then wished I hadn’t as it’s quite unruly. There are instructional videos on YouTube though to help get a grip. I’ve also found that, while I can make a passable replica of a portrait drawing, I seem always to transform it in some way. I’d like to see this as ‘making it my own’ but I think I may be fooling myself. I’m about to start on Aristides’ next book, Figure Drawing Atelier, which should confirm my rating of this one.

If you like drawing and you want to draw better, this is a really good and relatively cheap (about £17.00) investment. It’s also a thing of beauty in itself with a lovely soft feel to the hard back cover, and a strip of black elastic to keep your place. Very, very nice.

Aristides, J. (2019) Beginning Drawing Atelier – an instructional sketchbook. Monacelli Studio.

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