Sketch! by France Belleville-Van Stone (book review) – draw what you see, no lessons required

book cover of Sketch! by France Belleville-Van Stone published by Watson GuptillYou truly want to draw,
but haven’t had art lessons.
News flash – you don’t need lessons at all!

This author-artist transplanted from France to the USA didn’t have art classes available in school after junior high, doodled designs during high school, then decided that she really wanted to draw after her university days and just did – over and over.

The subtitle highlights what’s important about this book: inspiration (an idea alphabet fills the last third of the book), technique (not how you must draw, but the many ways that you can draw), and drawing daily life (from photos, on the go, while you wait).

So grab some paper and pencil (or sketchbook and pen, or tablet and stylus), open your eyes to the shapes around you, and just Sketch!

Book info: Sketch!: the Non-Artist’s Guide to Inspiration, Technique, and Drawing Daily Life / France Belleville-Van Stone. Watson Guptill, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, through Blogging For Books.

My book talk: Yes, you can draw what you see around you without formal art lessons or being an artistic genius – practice, trying new tools and techniques, and more practice are what non-artist and avid sketcher Belleville-Van Stone demonstrates in Sketch!

No step-by-step boring lessons, no assignments to draw shapes before attempting real things – just encouragement and technique ideas and reviews of drawing tools, papers, and technology. Get loosened up with contour drawings, try a different paper or app on your tablet for 10 minute drawing, take your sketching tools with you everywhere, and draw whenever you have a moment.

Drawing is a process and a state of mind, the author-artist believes, so giving up the idea of a perfect product and enjoying the act of drawing can be liberating and also lead to clearer perceptions of the objects and people around you.

Start sketching now (the waiting room, your shoe), keep drawing what you see (a banana isn’t just a yellow crescent), and celebrate your improvement over time as your hands, your favorite tools and techniques, and your artistic eye are freed to just Sketch!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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