Book Review

50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life

50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life

Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper

Irene Smit & Astrid Van der Hulst & The Illustrators of Flow

Workman Pub, Apr 2018

247 pages

Art how-to

B&N Salem, NH


This book caught my eye on the shelf filed between other books because it looked like it had a bunch of things stuck into it that caused the pages to bulge…and it did. But these things are part of the book itself. This is a fun book to simply pick up and thumb through right there at the shelf in the store. And I certainly did! The cover is very busy with all sorts of things, just like our lives, filled with all sorts of things. Jam jars, plants, houses, pens, and pencils. Pretty ordinary things, right? Well, Ms. Smit and Ms. Van der Hulst have taken lots of ordinary things and had the illustrators from their magazine put them into this book to help us be able to draw our own lives.

There are paper dolls in there that they show you how to dress in contemporary clothes so that you can recreate yourself and pick out an outfit for the day or create an outfit you’d like to go buy. And they have a choice of dolls so that you can choose one that looks most like you.

They show you how to draw your house or a dream house to add decor to. There is even a mini-lesson on perspective to help you make the furniture look like it is really standing on the floor and not floating in the air.

This cute little box is a project to write and draw all about you or a trip or something inside the sides, bottom, and top of this box and send it like a letter to a friend of relative or keep it as a memento of a fun event. I really like this one. This would be a great project to do with a child and keep them for when the child is older to look back on. Like a child’s diary before they can write much.

And there’s a project to create your own postcards. If you are still a correspondent these days, this can be a fun way to stay in touch. Cute little postcards with your own designs and they don’t take much, just a note to say hello!

There were so many great ideas and projects in this book that I was overwhelmed and really couldn’t decide what to try first. The style of the artwork wasn’t my style, but it worked well with what was being done, it didn’t take away from the projects, the explanations. And in spite of being done by several artists, the styles were cohesive. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys working with paper and pens or pencils. Perhaps someone who is looking for a new or different way to record the days of their life. This is a fun approach that seems to be a cross between straight sketching and mixed media journaling.

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