Book review: 20 ways to draw a tree

21 August 2013

I recently found a copy of this book in one of my favourite local bookshops here in Amsterdam, the ABC. The cover tells you that it is a ‘sketchbook for artists, designers and doodlers’ and the beautiful illustrations inside are by Eloise Renouf. The book is a collection of 900 of her drawings, divided over 45 subjects such as ‘shells’, ‘acorns’ and ‘winter trees’. There is plenty of space left on each spread to add your own drawings and that is exactly what this book is inviting you to do. I’ve just gotten started on the feathers page, as you can see below (the acorns are all by Eloise). What I like about the book is that it encourages you to be inspired by the drawings that are already there and then add your own twist to it.

Drawing lessons were part of our high school curriculum and I signed up for an extracurricular drawing class in college as well. However I never fully enjoyed it. In fact, I dropped that extracurricular drawing class almost right after it started. The reason was that all these classes focused on the technical part of drawing – i.e. making a realistic portrait, capturing a difficult texture – rather than the creative, finding-your-own-style part of drawing. Of course there is nothing wrong with learning the technical side of it, in fact I think it is useful. But to me it really wasn’t motivating to have a teacher tell me that my fifth layer of shading could be more consistent (true story).

So the result of that was that for a long time I stopped drawing all together. I became more comfortable creating my designs just on the computer. However this summer I’ve started drawing again and I’ve also tried out different hand-lettering techniques. I’m now seriously enjoying drawing and I’ve taken this book and my sketchbooks with me everywhere I go. So yay for drawing and if you think you would also like to draw in a book like this but for some reason don’t like trees, please know that you have other options:



Now, tell me what you think please!

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  1. Naomi, thanks for sharing this! I’ve had this post sitting in my reader to remind me to go add this book to my Amazon wishlist and come comment here. Drawing is something that I used to do (a tiny bit of art class in high school, an undergrad in architecture) but I’ve fallen SO out of practice with it that I’m a bit nervous a client is going to ask me to sketch out an idea and I’ll be so stuck. I need something to push me back into practicing it and this looks like a really good place to start. As soon as I get to invoice the two projects I’m working on (yay, funds!), I’m going to reward myself with this book (since I can write off design books, hee) and get to work. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    1. naomidenbesten

      I hope you’ll like it as much as I do! I’ve looked at a ton of drawing books but – for the reasons mentioned above – this is by far my favourite.

  2. Liz

    I just found this book at the bookstore and am SO in love with it- for all the reasons you mentioned. I too liked the idea of drawing, but found drawing classes a bit stifling. For me, I wanted drawing to be all about the creativity and fun. But, I didn’t know where to go outside of a structured class. What I love most is that she gives you a starting place- much like a writing prompt for a journal. A blank page in a journal or sketch book intimates me and it felt like she was giving me that nudge to get going in the right direction- without all the fuss-muss if I’m doing it correctly or not. Thanks for the great write-up on it and sharing your own drawings!

    1. Naomi den Besten

      It is indeed just like a writing prompt for a journal, with a few examples already on the page to get you started. It words like a charm for me too. And I’m glad I just discovered your blog (loved your essay on ‘what’s nexters’!).