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The Heart of Drawing

Stories and Images from Around the World

by Michael J. Strauss; Mags Phelan Stones; Abrah Griggs

Paperback eBook PDF

Publisher: Universal-Publishers
Pub date: 2023
Pages: 136
ISBN-10: 1627343601
ISBN-13: 9781627343602
Categories: CommunicationArt & ArchitectureEducation


In this unique new book, The Heart of Drawing, 59 artists from 22 countries exhibit their art and talk about their process of creation to inspire readers and help them find inspiration for their own creative efforts. The book is about what happens during the creation of a drawing, NOT just about the final result.

Drawing is described as an act of cognition that can help you develop eye-brain-hand coordination, conceptualize and analyze ideas, think creatively, and express yourself and communicate with others. It’s about Drawing to Learn, which is the main focus of the book. The words and images you see express a journey, and the artists are exploring their internal and external realities with shape, line and value. The book promotes gestural or expressive drawing, not necessarily a perfect finished work. Because of this, many of the drawings show restated lines, drawn over erasures and other tentative marks and “draw overs” showing the process of creation. They are not all flawless finished pieces.

Though from many countries and with various backgrounds, most of the artists say they began drawing at an early age. And most had someone in their lives encouraging them to create. What most have in common is their gestural and exploratory approach to drawing. Some describe entering a meditative state while drawing when nothing matters except putting marks on a surface. Such drawing is sometimes a felt bodily experience more than an intellectual one. For example, one artist notes "I keep a journal of my thoughts, a kind of reservoir for fleeting feelings and impressions where, like a primordial soup, ideas congeal and give birth to strange creatures that crawl onto the shore, discover wings, and take flight."

What’s best about The Heart of Drawing is the drawings themselves. How these artists create is as diverse as humanity itself and the whole collection will give aspiring artists ideas for their own creative efforts.


See WCAX video of author at his home studio in South Burlington, Michael Strauss’ passion is painting. (Apr. 14, 2022)

In spite of social media and other various technologies that were all intended to bring the world closer and more together, it is still the vision and purpose of art, painting and drawing in particular, that serves as the truer conduit of our common humanity. The Heart of Drawing is a collection of drawings and artist’s stories from around the world, eclectic in form and style, that inspire and celebrate the universality of art.
--Tony Magistrale, Professor of English, The University of Vermont

How do you make a drawing? There are as many answers as there are artists, and in The Heart of Drawing the authors probe 59 of them from around the world, with individual artist stories and illustrations. You don't have to be an artist to be fascinated by these creative processes and the wonderfully expressive range of drawings in this unique book."
--Glenda Bissex, Ed.D., Educator and Author

In The Heart of Drawing, the authors capture the creative spirit that drives many people to put pen to paper or brush to canvas in the first place. So many artists credit the activity itself, in addition to the pleasure of creating a final product, as a powerful means of communicating with others, as well as reaching a better understanding of one’s emotional and rational self. Which is why the testimonies of so many artists along with samples of their work help all of us understand the growth people experience not only when they draw, but when they try to find words that explain how and why they draw. As a writer and teacher myself, The Heart of Drawing does, in fact, capture and communicate the many reasons why the act of drawing is such a valuable activity.
--Toby Fulwiler, Emeritus Professor of English, The University of Vermont; author of Teaching with Writing, College Writing, and editor of Writing Across the Disciplines and The Journal Book

I am not a visual artist but after reading The Heart of Drawing, I found myself staring at most anything—the tiled floor, composite counter top, or scrub desert landscape—and allowing blotches of muted colors to become figures. I wanted to ink them in, wondering if I did so where the lines would take me. This book intrigues and stimulates the imagination. With contributions from twenty-two countries, The Heart of Drawing provides glimpses into each artist’s process of creation. The images will attract attention first, but each author’s narrative should be read as well. Together they tell the story of creating from the heart, of communicating emotion, rather than replication, and of passion for expression.
--Corrine Glesne, Emeritus Professor of Education, The University of Vermont; author of Becoming Qualitative Researchers and The Exemplary Museum: Art and Academia

The Heart of Drawing is a book for every art aficionado, student or teacher of drawing. I was very proud to be part of this project. The book explicates the heart of the drawing process, what the artists take to heart and the passion that surrounds drawing. It is a wonderful witness of how drawing can help us create and then share. It is about the alchemy and transformation in the artistic process. Drawing is something very human, wherever you come from.
-–JYM, artist, teacher and a contributor to The Heart of Drawing

Some ask, "do we really need another book on drawing?" Well, perhaps not, but this is not a typical how-to book but a collection of works by and about artists who devote their lives to drawing (or mark making) — an act that involves exploring the deeply intertwined relations between the history of personal ideas and the larger history of visual culture. From the corporeal to the cerebral, this book reminds us that self-discovery through drawing is accessible to all and a ready resource (broadly disseminated via social media)--an archetypal river just beneath the surface of the human psyche connecting us to one another--or a lake into which one dives and finds verisimilitude with veritable strangers who are remarkably similar creatures. The authors for their part, had a vision, and through inspired collaboration, produced a truly unique publication.
--Joe Loccisano, Artist, teacher, art curator for Ringling College of Art and Design, New College of Florida, Nova Southeastern University and State College of Florida. Joe is also a contributor and cover artist for The Heart of Drawing

The fun of looking through the Heart of Drawing is seeing a variety of artists with unique drawing styles compiled into a single book. Reading about their process, how they approach the paper, and why they love to draw allows for a full appreciation of the work. It is an exciting collection of masterful drawings that feeds my imagination and inspires me in my own drawing practice each time I open the book.
--Christine Selin, Bartlett High School, Anchorage, Alaska.

About the Author

Michael Strauss was a professor of chemistry at the University of Vermont (UVM) from 1968 to 2003. His academic life focused on teaching chemistry and on research in physical-organic and medicinal chemistry. Since 2003 he has been teaching drawing for the Honors College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Continuing Education at UVM. He has also been involved with outreach efforts in grade schools and high schools around Vermont, focused on science education. In all of his classes, both art and science, the iterative process of learning how to see, draw, and revise was paramount. There was considerable overlap between his university teaching and his outreach efforts in community schools. He had, along with colleagues in the College of Education at UVM, a National Science Foundation grant from the Teacher Enhancement Program to help train teachers in both active learning pedagogy, and content in chemistry, physics and geology. And for about a decade, he was also heavily involved with the Writing-to-Learn and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) movements, traveling around the country giving workshops and meeting with educators in both elementary schools and colleges to talk about science education.