This period of lockdown has given many of us time that we never previously had: mornings and evenings no longer spent commuting; weekends no longer spent meeting friends or visiting family members; daily outings with little purpose other than, well, getting outside; and, most importantly, a lot of time to think.
Whilst many see this as a blessing, it's this excess time - particularly thinking-time - that has left so many of us feeling overwhelmed, unusually tired, and worried about our loved ones and the world around us.
When you find yourself with too much time on your hands, overthinking or feeling anxious, sometimes there’s nothing better than doing something creative. So we’ve compiled a list of ten books with our friends over at Pavilion Books that are perfect for unlocking your creativity, giving your mind a much-needed break, and grounding you at the end of a day of screens, news and thinking-time.
1. Raw Drawing
by Alessandro Bonaccorsi
If you're wishing to have a bit of fun, appreciate the beauty of spontaneity and tap into your child-like sense of creativity, this is the book for you.
Raw Drawing is not an art class — it is a unique philosophy and a practical resource that teaches you how to draw spontaneously and creatively without any inhibition. Learn how to use signs, lines and shapes to create a new visual language. It’s a non-judgmental technique to help you visualize your thoughts, express your emotions, develop your ideas and, why not, relax with a pen or pencil.
Since he launched the Raw Drawing initiative in 2017, Italian artist Alessandro Bonaccorsi has given dozens of courses across Italy, helping people expand their creativity. This book brings together all of Alessandro’s core teachings, making the power and creativity of raw drawing accessible to everyone. The book is recommended for those over 14 years of age, who are open to let themselves become children again and draw with a carefree mind.
Check out these fabulous and free sample exercises from Raw Drawing available to download on the Pavilion website!
2. Power of the Pencil
by Guy Field
Wanting to have some fun with drawing, but no idea where to start? Look no further.
Lovingly put together by quirky illustrator Guy Field, this playful and practical book starts with the basics, discussing which pencils you need in your personal drawing toolkit, then goes on to give tips and methods for drawing everything from a self-portrait to your evening meal. It revisits the work of famous pencil-wielders like Leonardo da Vinci, and uncovers the secrets of more advanced techniques such as using tracing paper and drawing the perfect freehand circle.
Packed with tips, tricks and a huge sense of fun, The Power of the Pencil is the perfect way to bring the joy of drawing into your life.
3. Art Prompts
by Taylor McNee
Stuck for something to draw? Want to improve your skills on the widest range of subjects you possibly can? Searching for inspiration for that graphic novel you’ve been planning to start work on forever?
Artprompts, derived from the popular website of the same name, is a treasure trove of brilliant ideas for you to dip in and out of, and the best way ever to overcome creative block. It’s bursting with hundreds of imaginative prompts written especially for anyone who enjoys creating art. Open this book and discover a huge selection of creative and challenging descriptions of exciting characters, monstrous creatures, immersive environments, enticing objects and hypothetical situations – you might find yourself drawing an adorable girl hugging her huge, hairy pet spider, a robot pug, a misty moonlit graveyard or an alien abduction. Combine the prompts in any way you like to create amazing complex scenarios, or hone your artistic skills on single images. Fill a sketchbook with the things you love drawing, or push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new subjects. Have Draw Something-style competitions with your friends and family, and the prompts even work for writers too. And interspersed between the prompts are longer features packed with practical advice to help you become the best artist you can be.
4. Curious Creatures
by Millie Marotta
Who says colouring in is 'just for kids'? This book is perfect for those of you looking for a little creative distraction, or an easy way to take your mind off of things.
In her latest colouring book, Millie Marotta brings you her own selection of the most remarkable animals on earth to colour in. A huge wildlife fan since she was a child, Millie has researched curious creatures which are fascinating to look at, have amazing survival skills, intriguing behaviour and courting rituals and are wildlife wonders. Meet the adorable Macaroni Penguins with their yellow crests, the showy King of Saxony Bird of Paradise, the enduring camel, the majestic flying fish to the long-lived walrus and mighty moose.
Millie Marotta’s Curious Creatures features animals from all over the world, from all kinds of habitat, from the sea to the mountain tops and from Arctic cold to hot deserts. Remarkable birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates are all brought to life by Millie’s beautiful illustrations.
Millie has released an early illustration from the book as a free colouring download so that you can get colouring straight away! Download here.
Watch this video from Millie on some top Colouring Tips!
5. Pick up a Pen
by Frances Moffatt
A playful, quirky, doodly exploration of the humble pen, full of practical ways to make amazing art using markers, ink pens, quills and even ballpoints.
A cute, quirky practical art book, Pick Up A Pen is a guide to making the most of pens, from creating perfect calligraphic script with pen and ink to making masterpieces with a Sharpie. It covers drawing techniques such as cross-hatching and scumbling that’ll help you raise your sketchbook game, and is packed with ideas for what to draw and when. It introduces the world’s greatest artists working in pen, and explores what your doodles say about you.
On top of the arty bits, the book also contains nifty pen hacks and handwriting tips, and it delves into the history of the pen with some fascinating facts – did you know that an estimated 15 million biros are sold every day?
Pick Up A Pen will help you brandish a biro, perfect your pen and ink techniques and discover that markers really are magic!
6. Learn to Paint People Quickly
by Hazel Soan
Hoping to brush up your skills on painting the human form? This book will tell you everything you need with easy-to-follow exercises and step-by-step demonstrations.
Bestselling artist and writer Hazel Soan has distilled her art teaching into the things that matter most and can be digested in a short period of time. Learning to paint is one of the life-long aspirations of many of us and the techniques of painting lively crowd scenes or portraits of loved ones can be picked up faster than you think.
In this concise book, Hazel Soan explains everything you need to know about figurative painting in an accessible way. She advises on how to paint people in a variety of poses and settings, dealing with the theories of colour and light in a way that beginners will understand and more experienced painters will find invaluable. She also guides you through ways to insert people into your pre-existing painting to bring them to life; from urban streets to beaches. Watercolours and oils are covered, and subjects such as portraits, body proportion and perspective are also explored.
7. Zen of Drawing
by Peter Parr
Relax, take a deep breath, pick up a pen and draw what you see with a ‘zen’ approach.
Author Peter Parr has spent his career in animation successfully teaching people to draw and encouraging students to nurture their skills through observational drawing. He advocates a fresh way of looking closely at your subject and enlisting an emotional response, in order to fully appreciate the nature of what you are about to draw.
You will learn that whatever you are drawing, it is essential not only to copy its outline but also to ask yourself: is it soft, smooth or rough to the touch? How heavy is it? Is it fragile or solid? Then, having grasped the fundamental characteristics, or zen, of the object, make corresponding marks on the paper – crisp textures, a dense wash, a scratchy or floating line.
8. Botanical Illustration for Beginners
by Meriel Thurstan & Rosie Martin
For those of you who are passionate about nature and new to the wonders of botanical illustration, this beginner guide demonstrates everything you need to know about capturing beautiful botanical specimens on paper.
Each exercise guides the reader through a different aspect of botanical illustration, breaking the whole process down into simple, easy-to-follow stages. Whether you are a beginner looking for advice on composition and how to plot out your initial drawings, an experienced artist looking to develop your skills at colour mixing and working with unusual colours, or an old hand looking to capture more challenging and complex textures and shapes, there is something for botanical artists of all levels.
Acclaimed artists Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan ran the popular botanical painting course at the Eden Project and have filled this fantastically illustrated guide with practical and inspirational worksheets, colour swatches, sketches and stunning finished paintings.
9. Stitch Draw
by Rosie James
Hello textile lovers! Drawing doesn't need to be confined to a pencil - how about a needle and thread? This book will tell you everything you need to know about figurative stitching in textile art, with some helpful techniques and tips.
The book covers: How to set up your machine; How to tackle drawing (with exercises that will help even those who are afraid to put pen to paper); Transferring drawing to cloth, working with transparency, different surfaces and adding fabrics and colour; Photography, with details on using photographs in textiles; Putting it all together with layering images, playing with scale, repetition and composition. Tips and advise throughout will show textile artists how to expand their repertoire and how to use figurative stitch to really showcase their creativity.
Illustrated throughout with stitch drawings by Rosie James and other leading artists, this is a welcome paperback edition that will inspire both professionals and those new to stitching.
10. Painting Nature's Details
by Meriel Thurstan & Rosie Martin
A practical guide to painting nature’s flora and fauna from award-winning botanical painting authors Meriel Thurstan and Rosie Martin.
Recording the wildlife that surrounds us is an age-old art. The authors, in collaboration with the Eden Project, show us how to accurately and beautifully capture the natural world on canvas and make the most of the revival of this art form.
Step by step, they take you through the whole process of capturing the essence of some of the most beautiful things on earth. From dinosaur skeletons and fossils to birds, butterflies and frogs. Learn how to paint the subtle scales on a fish, the iridescence of a feather or the lustre on a shell.
The authors take you through the full range of skills and techniques you need to undertake natural history drawing and painting. Key techniques are explained with practical step-by-step demonstrations. Beautiful illustrations by the authors are featured throughout and will inspire you and illuminate the techniques you are learning.
Painting Nature’s Details is a stunning book on an art form that is fast becoming the new botanical illustration.
Support a charity when you Shop Online
Thinking of purchasing one of these lovely books on Amazon? Visit smile.amazon.co.uk instead. This is the same site as Amazon with the same products - just the company's 'charitable arm'.
More than 2,000 UK charities are registered to the scheme that sees Amazon donate a portion of the net purchase price of eligible products to a charity of the consumer's choice.
Head to smile.amazon.co.uk and search for either 'The Big Draw' or 'The Campaign for Drawing' in the 'Pick your own Charity' tool bar and select. A portion of the proceeds from your following purchases will go directly to The Big Draw charity. Yippee!
Please note: we are not in any direct partnerships with Amazon. We have linked into their respective charitable schemes.