The Artist’s Eye (Learning To See book 1) by Peter Jenny (book review).

As I commented when I review Peter Jenny’s third book ‘Figure Drawing’ in this ‘Learning To See’ series last month, his books are designed to stir up the creativity in you, even if you haven’t had any formal art lessons or at least any that have sank in.

The first book in the series, ‘The Artist’s Eye’, should at least show if you have the basic level of imagination and, although it’s the eighth chapter in, if you can see people, animals and assorted things when you look at the clouds in the sky then, yes, I would say you do have the creative element inside your head. Don’t do this on an overcast day. We all see grey then. The ability to see images in the most mundane things can be cultivated as Peter Jenny shows here.

The twenty-two chapters in this tiny book are designed to do just that so that you can look at anything from screwed up pieces of paper to assorted other objects like coffee stains and visualise imaginary into them. There is less text than pictures throughout so there’s not a lot of reading involved than trying things out. At most you might need is a rough pad that you’re prepared to tear up and maybe something to make coffee stains (I wouldn’t know myself as I don’t drink such things) or tomato sauce stains.

If you thought we artist types were a little mad, then you might be half correct. A lot of it is an innate ability to see things from unusual angles or interpret objects in different ways. That’s really how a lot of imagination works. Although it helps for it to be innate, sometimes it just needs a little cultivating to get it started. This book should help.

A practical chapter here you can share with your sprogs is marbling. Float some oily paints on a layer of water in an oblong bowl and skim a sheet of paper across it and let it dry and you can a psychedelic pattern, Don’t let the paper soak too long or it takes some time to dry. A perfect game for this time of year if you lay them to dry on a heater but don’t leave unattended.

This kind of book is designed just to get you started and experimenting and a stepping off point so don’t feel like you’re limited by what it shows you. If you suddenly find you’re scribbling or doodling all the time, then welcome to the artistic club and, just think, there are another three books to pick up on to get you cultivated.

GF Willmetts

November 2017

(pub: Princeton Architectural Press/Abrams Books, 2012. 215 page illustrated A6 small paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $12.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61689-056-8)

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