With a name like It’s Nice That, we are big fans of anything which can be summed up by its own title, and illustrator Marion Deuchars ticked that box with her new book Let’s Make Great Art. Super-fun, super-lovely and super-useful, it’s aimed at “artists of all ages” and is full to bursting with inspirational exercises sure to get the creative juices flowing. We caught up with Marion to talk about the book, computer games and her creative family.
Hi Marion. This is the most fun it’s possible to have in book form…
I feel proud that it might have this effect as this is exactly what my intention was. I firmly believe as human beings we are at our best when things are kept simple, a pencil and paper can genuinely give hours of pleasure and I think I wanted to prove, or at least remind people of that.
Is the book about capturing young minds early on, or actually getting us all to think like children again?
Both. The book was intentionally aimed at children but the subject matter really is for all ages and is not childlike in the least. Some of the ideas like ‘how to draw a bicycle’ is a good example of an exercise that is ageless. A child will marvel at their first drawing of a bicycle whilst an adult will surprise themselves at how simple it is to grasp the fundamentals of how to draw one.
Much of the activities are things I learnt at art school where I (like many others) try to ‘undo’ some of the learning we had at school and learn to draw again, or at least be open-minded in the way that a child draws.
Do you remember why you first picked up a pencil?
My older sister was really good at art, so I think I copied her. I loved comics from an early age and that encouraged me to learn to draw too. Cartoons are sometimes like drawings abbreviated or simplified and are far easier to copy than say starting with a life drawing. If you do something often enough and are encouraged often enough, I think you can become good at it.
The hardest thing with art is to find your individual voice, to have some uniqueness. That only comes with experience. What makes a good drawing is not always about skill but the emotion it conveys.
Is the digital age a huge opportunity or a worrying barrier to inspiring creativity in people?
Art and creativity will always find a way round new developments, and normally embrace it! I have two children who are fast approaching an age where computer games are enticingly just round the corner, many of their friends are already hooked. I am delaying their introduction to games not because I’m against them, but I feel traditional drawing and thinking better establishes a sense of their individuality. If they produce a great drawing, its something real, unique to them, I could keep it forever. If they get a great score on a computer game, who cares?
I can’t compete with the excitement gained when playing those games, but I can help them to find themselves through drawing and exploring art for a bit longer if I can.
Your husband (Angus Hyland) is a graphic designer too isn’t he – you must have a very creative household?
You would think so! I am not sure if we are overly conscious of that though on a day-to-day basis. We don’t really work evenings or weekends, family life takes over then.
We often joke that it’s a good job we both respect each other’s work as we have a natural competitiveness which provides much mirth and teasing. Angus is hugely supportive of what I do and I rely heavily on his judgement, I really trust him.
I don’t really ‘teach’ the kids art at home, I actually try deliberately not to influence their drawing too much, only encourage. Their drawings at this stage are so ‘free’. They are not worried about realism, perspective, logic. I love their detail, they are as much about telling stories or recording emotions or events as they are a representation of something. There are always art materials around the house and I do encourage creative mess. I kind of feel it’s only possible to be creative if you are not worried about spilling paint on the floor.