We sat down with David Webb, creator of 101 Ways to Draw to talk all things art, and here’s what he had to say:
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been working as an artist for about 40 years, first as an illustrator and then later as an artist/tutor.
When I worked as an illustrator, it was mostly for educational books and part works, along with greetings cards. Back then, I mostly concentrated on animals and natural history subjects.
I first started writing about drawing and painting in magazine articles, mostly for Leisure Painter magazine. That was almost 20 years ago and I think it was writing the articles that enabled me to start writing books. It was a little daunting at first but, if you write about what you know, it just starts to flow.
Tell us a bit about your new book?
It’s all about drawing and drawing media. I think anyone who has ever had an interest in painting and drawing, started with pencils or crayons when they were children. All you need is a pencil and paper, and then you can get lost in your own little world.
This book shows you a whole range of drawing media including pastels, charcoal, oil pastels, pens and inks, plus there’s also information on different drawing surfaces.
There are also sections on technique, combining media and basic theory so there’s quite a lot packed into it.
What is your favourite project/technique featured?
That’s a tough one. I remember, when I started work on the book, there was a delivery of different drawing media and materials for me to use. It was like Christmas! Some of the mediums were quite new to me.
Looking back through the book, I particularly enjoyed the graphite pencils, shading and blending.
However, I’d never come across Oil Paint sticks before and I had a lot of fun with those. Such beautiful colours and lovely to blend.
The Burnishing technique with the coloured pencils was also enjoyable.
What was your route into art?
Unconventional. I was just finishing A’ Level Art and I’d always wanted to do something involved with drawing and painting but, at the time, there wasn’t a lot of information in that direction. I didn’t exactly leave school with a fistful of A Grades and I don’t think the careers officer knew quite what to do with me. University wasn’t an option and I don’t think I was really suited to study, back then.
My route into art was pure luck, or maybe fate. I’d always had an interest in natural history and birdwatching. My Dad encouraged us to take an interest in the countryside and the outdoors even though, or maybe because, we lived in East London.
We had quite a few books on the shelves, containing pictures of birds, animals, trees and plants. There was one in particular that I was always dipping into. It was The Readers Digest Natural History of the British Isles. I decided then that I wanted to be an illustrator.
How to go about it though? I noticed that the names of the illustrators were listed and, next to their names, was the name of their agent. In most of the cases, it was Linden Artists. So, I looked them up in the phone book (Google? What’s that?) and found their address in St James’s. I wrote to them and told them what I wanted to do and they got back to me and invited me to go and see them.
So, I packed my portfolio with all my best work and off I went. Obviously, I had no clue about how to go about illustrating a book and my collection of drawings and watercolours showed that.
However, they were very tactful and told me that I showed promise, and they came up with a suggestion. They needed someone to help out in the shop, which was connected to their offices, plus there were deliveries/collections of artwork from artists and publishers. If I worked there, I would get to meet the visiting illustrators and see how it was done. So that’s what I did. From time to time they also gave me briefs of previous jobs that I could have a go at, to build up my portfolio.
Gradually, I started to get illustration jobs, and then it sort of snowballed from there. They became my agents and I worked with them for the next 20 years.
Where do you look for inspiration: travel, other artists, Pinterest?
I still paint animal subjects (I did a book on that too) but I also like to paint landscapes and still life subjects. I live in Devon now, so there’s lots of inspiration to be found on the coast and surrounding countryside. My workshops often take me to other parts of the country like Essex, Wales and Dorset. I’ve found things to paint in all these places.
If you’d like to get a copy of David’s book you can find 101 Ways to Draw here:
Find more about David’s work here on his Facebook Page.