As a cheeky little pre-Christmas present to myself I bought a copy of a book by the journalist Andrew Marr. Not the usual fare from a man better known for political journalism; no this is about Drawing! Called (appropriately enough) “A Short Book About Drawing” this delightful little tome is exactly what it’s title suggests. I read it in a couple of hours and found it to be hugely engaging.
Marr is not a professional artist, and indeed he doesn’t even ascribe the title Artist to himself. He simply enjoys the act of drawing, and does this on a daily basis whether it be simple doodles on the edge of a newspaper or notepad, or something more complex and sophisticated. Marr is also very accomplished at drawing, possessing a natural ability (talent) which has not been nurtured by formal training , despite a school art teacher suggesting he apply to Edinburgh College of Art, Marr says “I went to university instead. (Cambridge to study English). It may have been a mistake“. The whole book is written in an engaging and rather charming style while also being full of interesting and insightful comments.
The book came about after Marr suffered a stroke in 2012 and drawing became an important part of his rehabilitation. Frustratingly for Marr, he was unable to hold pencil and paper steady due to his ill health, and instead took to drawing on his iPad. The book is full of Marr’s own drawings, some made on paper, some paintings and a huge amount made on hs iPad, each used to illustrate a point raised or discussed in the text. The 14 chapters are not overly long, and discuss ideas about drawing – as an activity personal and shared, the mechanics of making a drawing, the motivations for drawing as well as taking a look at the place of drawing in the historic Art Canon as well as it’s role in the Contemporary Art world and ideas for the future of drawing.
Being such a well known journalist Marr has been fortunate to get access to some of the best known artists practising today – Anthony Gormley, David Hockney to name just two, and discuss with them their ideas about drawing. Yet what comes across is that Marr himself is no slouch when it comes to knowledge of the art world. Here is a man who grew up in an academic, literary and artistic household and while not claiming to be an Artist himself, this man understands the language of Art and in particular of Drawing.
I really enjoyed this book, particularly as I have been working through the exercises of another book about drawing (Drawing Project an exploration into the language of drawing by Nick Maslen and Jack Southern), and some of the topics in this book are also discussed by Marr.
I really enjoyed this book by Andrew Marr and I am determined to keep up my own drawing on a daily basis, especially as I have been inspired to get myself an app for my tablet – so no excuses for not having pen and paper now! This book offers interesting thoughts and discussion on the subject of drawing while not being weighed down by the often dry and self-important, overblown writing style of many art writers.
“A short book about drawing” by Andrew Marr is available in hardback from The Campaign for Drawing (http://www.campaignfordrawing.org – click on the shop link) at a cost of just £15 and is, in my opinion well worth it!