Learning to Draw, Drawing to Learn


140 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 1-895854-12-1
DDC 743'.42





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian studies at
Concordia University, Japan Foundation Fellow 1991-92, and the author of
Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Home and As Though Life Mattered:
Leo Kennedy’s Story.


The focus in Learning to Draw, Drawing to Learn is on portraiture,
“the drawing of faces with the most basic of materials.” Nash calls
it an “introduction” to drawing, but it will take serious students
far beyond that level. Nash emphasizes that we draw what we feel. Her
advice on drawing from life involves observations and feelings,
individuality, and intuition.

For practitioners, such drawing is a process rather than a technique, a
continuously evolving process that creates an empathic connection
between artist and subject. Nash takes the student in 12 carefully
structured chapters (or lessons) through materials (“Each tool, each
medium has its own voice”), composition and design, values (“Let
there be light and dark”), mood, context, and much else. Her advice,
both practical and contemplative, is sensitive, and continually links
theory to technique. Her conclusion (“The Next Stage”) includes a
short history of art students’ apprenticing themselves to a master or
to his assistants, of the exclusion of women from art studios until the
middle 18th century, and of current options.

Learning to Draw is beautifully illustrated, with many warm,
brown-toned drawings by such masters as Rembrandt, Paul Klee, Andrea del
Sarto, Henri Matisse, Gustave Courbet, M.C. Escher, and Andrew Wyeth,
among others, and by Nash’s own fine drawings. This exceptional book
should help students to cultivate the qualities that Nash considers
important—namely, passion, discernment, discipline, and authenticity.


Nash, Joanna., “Learning to Draw, Drawing to Learn,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1283.