Monday, November 24, 2014

Reads for Writers: Tony Schwartz and Betty Edwards Provide Masterclasses

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.

          Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don’t generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice, and/or creativity.

          I love to read and write, but I have always longed to draw well, too. My great aunt illustrated dozens of children’s books. Her artwork also included a huge cathedral drawn in charcoal and a mixed media Christmas scene both of which grace the walls of my parent’s home. My favorite painting by her is a three foot by three foot depiction of Noah’s Ark with the most adorable monkeys, giraffes, elephants, ponies, camels, penguins, zebras, deer, owls, hippos, bears, lambs, ostriches, cattle, and doves walking and flying to the Ark that she painted for my father’s nursery and was hung in the hallway outside my room when I was growing up. However, I did not inherit her talent.

          Over the years, I have tried to draw many times. I created two pieces that aren’t terrible, but I really want to be able to sketch quickly and accurately.

          I discovered Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Betty Edwards while reading What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America by Tony Schwartz. He included a photo of a self-portrait he completed after finishing Edwards’ course which amazed and inspired me.

I love to learn new things so both of these books appeal to me. In fact, I recommend you read Chapter 4 “Seeing the Big Picture” in What Really Matters before you start Edwards’ book as Schwartz gives a  fascinating look into Betty Edwards, her ideas and research, and her beliefs as well as a detailed view of learning to draw from his own beginner’s perspective. He compares writing and drawing on page 178.

          Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was originally published in 1979. I did not discover it until decades later, but the instructions still work. If you want to be inspired, look at pages 11-13 to see before and after drawings by six people. The improvements are astounding.

I have completed the first six chapters and have drawn two pictures I am proud to sign: one of my left hand holding my mascara and the other of my bare foot. If you want to learn to draw, start now with this book.

Drawing is an excellent complement to writing. It teaches you a new perspective. It gives you another way to get thoughts and details down on the page about people/characters and settings when you are out and about. Having this artistic skill gives you confidence and another outlet for your creativity.

I’m recommending Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain now as winter weather (or heat waves if you are in the southern hemisphere) keeps many of us inside so we have time to spend on a new pursuit. We can always use a new perspective.

Happy creating!

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