Danny Gregory’s new book has more in common with “The Creative Licence”, one of his first books about creative freedom.
It isn’t really divided up into chapters or sections. Instead each page, or double-spread, offers of suggested drawing subject, or idea, to get your inspiration flowing.
It starts with a handful of very loose drawing lessons. Well, short drawing activities, really. Danny isn’t concerned with teaching the technicalities of drawing. But he is concerned with illustrating to you how easy it is to draw. How easy it is to find something to draw.
The rest of the book is a series of short prompts and thoughts on different subjects; from water-soluble pens to drawing unsuspecting people, drawing what you eat (Yey!) to drawing top tens.
The cover reveals that this book is for busy people and it certainly is written for those too busy to pore over a long-winded art manual. Danny’s short prompts are brief and succinct, but still powerful. his message is clear; draw little and often. No matter what skill level you feel you are at. That doesn’t really matter. Starting that daily habit of drawing, even for just ten minutes a day, can have a profound, positive effect – can lead to a richer, more fulfilling life.
This book would be a welcome addition to anyone who draws or who is thinking about drawing, at any level of proficiency. It is always welcome to be guided by skilled practitioners and to have so many bite-sized guides accompanied by Danny’s illustrations (demonstrating his economy of line and bravura colours) is a handy, pocket-sized guide.
Ask the man on the street who Danny Gregory is and they probably haven’t heard of him. However ask that hunched figure huddled under the shop canopy who looks up sporadically to check that their pen marks are sketching out the buildings opposite, and you’re likely to get a different answer.
I wonder how many hundreds of people Danny has inspired to pick up a pen or pencil or paintbrush and create? For those of you who know who is, I’m sure that my story is similar to yours.
I stumbled across one of Danny’s books and his enthusiasm and energy sprang from every page; whether it be in his joyful text or his exuberant sketches.
He advocates drawing regularly, or journaling; and as Danny likes to put a lot of text around his drawings; this helps to not only explain context and feelings but helps the drawing become more than just a simple picture, or a half-completed drawing. It becomes a record of a life.
Trying regularly. Danny advocates drawing everyday. After all how can one improve at something without regular practice?
Varying your materials to explore different media and seeing how different media work together. Some will work and new combinations may be discovered that produce effects that you like and didn’t expect. Others may fail miserably, but may lead to discover further combinations.
Setting yourself little tasks and challenges. There’s a page in “The Creative License” (p98 if you must know) that is titled ’10,000 Things to Draw’ and is a long list of collections of things; all the pens on your desk, all the windows in your street. Some large, but mostly the small and , some might say, insignificant. But not insignificant to the sketcher on a journey. Everything and anything is fair game to be drawn. But not just drawn – try to find connections, get lost in themes and subjects, studies of photographs, of lamps, fire hydrants or manhole covers.
It all combines into a reflective whole; reflecting on the large and small, reflecting on the meaning and importance of your mark making and of the subjects that you choose.
Creating drawings and journaling is not an exact science; there is no right or wrong way to do it. But the important thing about creating is just that. Creating. It doesn’t really matter if the angles are skewed, or the shapes aren’t quite right, what matters is the process of creating.
Want to find out more?
… click on the book illustrations
Danny’s account is, in turns, heartbreaking and heartwarming. Through his touching words and illustrated with his drawings and journal notes of the time he takes us with him on his inspirational journey of discovery.
He finds new meaning in the daily life around him and their place in it, as he teaches himself to draw and connect with a world which suddenly makes no sense.
I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to reconnect with their own creativity.
I had always labored under the assumption that drawingss or sketches had to be of something ‘painterly’; a pretty castle or a cottage on a hill. But here Danny Gregory advocates just drawing; anything. Anything and everything around you.
I suddenly realised that I was not going to improve as an artist by drawing only ‘proper’ subjects. I would have to practice, practice, practice and draw much more often.
Through delightful sketches and endearing anecdotes Danny introduces an ocean of ideas and inspiration;
- Kickstarting your creativity and learning to see – What basic materials do you need and how can use draw with them
- Making creativity into a habit – Finding out when you can draw
- Blasting your butt out of a rut – Doing things differently
- Re-connecting with reality – Seeing the world around you and living in the moment
- Winning the fight to go on – Fighting against external pressures
- From enemy to ally – Fighting against the inevitable negative thoughts; about mistakes and worries
- Who you are and why that’s fine – Finding your greater identity through your art
- Broadening your creativity – Finding art in other places and sharing your art with others
- Creativity in the real world – Where Danny introduces us to some artists who journal regularly
This isn’t a ‘How to..’ instructional manual that will guide you to draw a perfect tree, but it will help you experiment and discover how you draw a tree. Danny’s book is more a state of mind, an attitude towards drawing and journalling more than anything and for that reason I would recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest interest in either drawing or journaling. Well, to be frank (Hello, I’m Frank), I’d recommend this book to any creative type; they’re sure to find more than enough of interest to them.
Summer 2009 – as I was browsing in the art section of a local book shop I came across Danny Gregory’s latest book. I have always considered myself a keen sketcher, but had lapsed. Lapsed into occasionally taking my sketchpad and pencils away when we went on holiday, and even then perhaps only using them once or twice.
‘An illustrated Life’ was a revelation; here were artists and creatives who were sketching every day, using a sketchpad like a doodle book, keeping a record of anything and everything. Drawing life around them, using whatever materials they wanted.
… and I recognised something in Danny Gregory’s style, something familiar. I remember sitting in the bookshop pouring over Danny’s introduction, pouring over the examples of his drawing and saying to myself that his style seemed similar to my own.
I fell in love with the idea of keeping a sketchbook journal.
I bought the book. Even though I hadn’t bought an art book in years and quickly ordered a couple more books by Danny Gregory…
There are 50 artists profiled here. They each have about four to six pages in which we see multiple pages from their sketchbooks and journals. We also find out about why they draw, what materials they prefer and something of their philosophy too.
In addition to the book – At the time Danny interviews several of the contributors and released them as podcasts. As far as I’m aware these are no longer available on iTunes, but they may be lurking around somewhere on the internet.