Alexander Calder’s “Animal Sketching”

Published January 21, 2010 by Molly

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Aside from its articles on outdoor gear, pinewood derbies and wilderness preparation, Boy’s Life magazine had a section devoted to the art of drawing stuff. Through a series of simple steps (”Begin with a circle”), the section demonstrated to readers how they could learn to sketch a dog or a sailboat with only a pencil and a sheet of scratch paper at hand. It was aspirational and instructional and consistently the best part of the magazine, except for maybe the mail-order hovercraft ads in the back.

For those without a Boy’s Life subscription, there’s an elegant alternative in Alexander Calder’s Animal Sketching, a manual published in 1926 and containing instructions on how to draw elephants, seals, horses, monkeys, birds, lions and more. Calder (yup, the sculptor/mobile inventor) guides readers in the art of portraying spirit and attitude in a few simple lines, dropping crucial bits of wisdom along the way (”There is always a feeling of perpetual motion about animals and to draw them successfully this must be borne in mind”).

Nab this classic while it’s still in print!

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