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Drawing with Your Artist's Brain: Learn to Draw What You See, Not What You Think You See Hardcover – April 11, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carl Purcell has taught beginning drawing, figure drawing, watercolor painting and art appreciation at the college-level for more than 30 years. Carl is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and an honor member of the Utah Watercolor Society, as well as a member of both the Nevada Watercolor Society and the Northwest Watercolor Society. He is on the board of directors for the Central Utah Art Center. He is the author of the popular NL book Painting with Your Artist's Brain.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books (April 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581808119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581808117
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I am sold on this book. Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is awesome, and its insights are foundational for a good artist, however, I think Carl's book is more hands on and simplifys the basic teachings with more exercises and less theory.

I recommend buying, reading, and doing the exercises in both books, but if you only get one, I would go with this one.
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This is a good comprehensive book for beginners and covers most things of importance, but it has a few defects. The reference photos from which the drawings are done are too small, making it difficult to see what the author is talking about. The author leaves his sighting lines on his drawings, which is like leaving up the scaffolding after painting a house--it looks unsightly. He drones on for too long about values. Toward the end of the book, he runs out of things to say, and the book becomes a gallery to show off the author's drawings.
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I wanted to learn basic pencil sketching, so I went to a bookstore and browsed all the books they had on the subject. This one definitely stood out as the most practical for me as a beginner. I just want to be able to draw for fun, and the ideas of this author made a lot of sense. So I bought the book and brought it home. I skimmed the whole book quickly to get the main ideas, then I sat down, took off my shoe, and started to draw a picture of my shoe based on the ideas. It is definitely the best freehand drawing I have ever done in my life - by a mile. And that's only applying a fraction of the principles and tips in the book. I'm looking forward to digging in more.
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If you think you can't draw, then Drawing With Your Artist's Brain is for you - and for any general-interest lending collection where how-to arts titles are popular. Here is a guide which offers step-by-step insights into how to create true-to-life renderings, overcoming personal angst and understanding how to define form, see values correctly, and use value patterns effectively. An observation-based approach covers landscapes, portraits and still life equally, applying important concepts and principles to the mix. A top pick from an artist whose PAINTING WITH YOUR ARTIST'S BRAIN has proven most popular.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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This really has to be one of the best books on drawing that I've seen - and I have read a lot! I am not a beginner at drawing, in fact I have a degree in art (for what it's worth), yet this book taught me things that I never learned in school. His emphasis on values is essential if one wants to be proficient at drawing. I especially appreciated how he stressed not to rely on a reference photo as an only source. Drawing from life is more important! I also liked seeing how he interpreted the photo references that he did use - sure they were small, but that only furthered his point to not get hung up on the details and go for the underlying patterns of value. If someone is looking for a book on how to copy a photo and produce a tightly rendered replica, this is not for you.(But what is the point in that anyways?) I would recommend this book to anyone who does want a strong, basic foundation in drawing.
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The book begins with getting rid of r (substitute) symbols for birds (substitute). I have read of triangles in reading an artists work. In one of the methods in the book, we start with the traingle framing our subject in it.
Getting the measurements to draw a thing is far from my idea of an artistic endeavour. But getting a thing right as it is, is a goal. And without such positional aids, it is hard to get anything on the paper, much like the blank page staring at the writer. While looking for angles in the picture, you are no longer thinking about how or what of the picture can you transfer onto your page. With so many details, you are only more confident of getting the drawing right. After all this study of a pear, I can appreciate still life drawings and paintings.
If you dont know about values, then you really need this book. I could use the steps in the book to draw profile pictures and landscapes from a magazine lying around. After observing the skys gradations in a picture, I saw that a sunrise picture on the back of a grocery truck is not just one colour.
The lesson on bridging reminded of creation of music.
The authors renderings from the pictures are very instructional.
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Of the dozen or more learn-to-draw books I've purchased and borrowed from the library, this one is the most helpful. Purcell excellently teaches the technique of really LOOKING at your subject. He reveals the fight going on in your brain between what you think you ought to be seeing, and what you're really seeing. Then he tells you how to ignore your pre-programmed stylized images, let go and actually draw.

Purcell's book has helped me go from "I can't draw" to "Holy Toledo I'm drawing!" It's a fabulous experience, a real breakthrough.
Drawing With Your Artist's Brain is even more helpful to me than the seminal Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain for actually putting pencil to paper and starting drawing. Borrow "Right Side" from the library, and buy Purcell's "Artist's Brain".
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