Friday, August 25, 2017

Star, Branch, Spiral, Fan: Learn to Draw from Nature's Perfect Design Structures

I knew from the first moment that I saw this book that I had to have it.  Yellena James' drawings are magical.  (You can get a quick taste of her art here, on her Instagram account.)

The book did not disappoint.  Yellena obviously put as much time and care into this book as she does to her paintings.  I'd like to thank Quarto for sending it to me.

After a brief chapter about design elements and principles, there is a chapter for each of the four design structures found in nature, and then a final chapter entitled, "Putting it All Together".  Each of the four chapters contains the same great content combined in different ways:
  • Four to six pages of individual drawings showing where the shape is found in nature.  For example, the first page of drawings in the star chapter shows 6 different star creatures found in the ocean, each meticulously drawn in beautiful color.  Another shows snowflakes, and another shows different flowers.
  • Three or more pages of technical line drawings and instructions, combining geometry, math and science.  Here you might get out your old geometry compass or go on a field trip to collect and study branches from plants.  These pages are a fascinating look at nature's structures.
  • Exercises where you practice drawing the specific elements:  spiral shaped shells or abstract fan shapes, for example.  The step-by-step instructions are explained clearly.  
  • Exercises where you practice design elements and principles like color, pattern, or movement, and
  • Exercises where you complete compositions begun by Yellena.
"Putting it all together" helps you to revisit the design elements and principles and to practice putting all of the structures together.  She reminds us to "look to nature - the greatest designer of all" if we ever run out of inspiration.

I often borrow books from my local library, but this is a book that you'll want to own, because it includes lots of pages where you practice drawing next to her beautiful samples, completing compositions, for example.

You can read more about Yellana's book on her website, here.  At this link you will find visual examples of the pages I have described here.  This is one book that you really have to experience visually!

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