Taupō illustrator and author Donovan Bixley wants us to draw wonders

Taupō author and illustrator Donovan Bixley is about to release his 121st book Draw Some Awesome. Photo / Supplied . Award-winning Taupō author Donovan Bixley to publish 121st book titled Draw awesome for aspiring and


Taupō author and illustrator Donovan Bixley is about to release his 121st book Draw Some Awesome. Photo / Supplied

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Award-winning Taupō author Donovan Bixley to publish 121st book titled

Draw awesome

for aspiring and accomplished artists.

More than just a how-to guide, Donovan says the book is aimed at both novice and experienced artists who want to find their own style of drawing.

“I don’t want you to draw like me. I want to teach you to draw like you,” Donovan said.

The book is packed with useful tips, tricks, techniques, and advice that Donovan has acquired over the years studying such artistic luminaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas, and our very own Murray Ball.

The chapters contain information on warm-up exercises, marking, sketchbooks, imagination exercises, inspiration shapes, animal drawing, faces, character creation, details, copy, perspective, thumbnails, shading, shadows, composition, illustration and even drawing of a Unicorn.

Donovan says he’s always been a prolific cartoonist, with a photo of a three-year-old Donovan drawing a dinosaur on a chalkboard easel, a gift from his parents.

“I drew pictures and wrote stories to go along with them, making little books out of scrap paper on dinosaurs, space missions or underwater adventures.”

His artistic skills came in handy when it came to dealing with the school bully.

“Drawing trucks was a great way to put the school bully on the side. That was probably the reason why I really hate drawing trucks now. “

Draw Some Awesome will be available for sale at $ 29.95 on October 14.  Image / Supplied
Draw Some Awesome will be available for sale at $ 29.95 on October 14. Image / Supplied

He says he learned an important life lesson after leaving school and went to study at Auckland University of Technology School of Art. At first he felt overwhelmed by the apparent confidence and superior abilities of other students.

“When I visit schools these days, I tell students that success often comes from being more stubborn than brilliant.

Donovan says it’s important for tamariki to learn to draw because drawing and art can be a gateway to something they’re really passionate about. Now more than ever, he says there is a tremendous amount of visual media in our lives.

“You know, when you’re obsessed with something, it really starts to trigger all of your other brain cells too.

“Our culture of Kiwi ingenuity needs creative people. And most of these great Kiwi ideas start life in the form of a drawing.”

Donovan in 2018 with his book How Maui Fished Up the North Island, published in te reo Māori.  Photo / NZME
Donovan in 2018 with his book How Maui Fished Up the North Island, published in te reo Māori. Photo / NZME

He says he still enjoys drawing, even though it’s his job, but admits there were times he felt like a treadmill artist. He says there are some really tough mental struggles to face when your job is so directly tied to you as a person.

“You put it there for people to judge, and a lot of that success or failure is up to you alone.”

Over the years he must have made a conscious effort to remember to love making art.

“A lot of my most successful books were created because I was doodling, and then I decided to write a book to go with my photos. Just like when I was a kid.”

Donovan (center) helps children draw at an event at the Taupō Library.  Photo / NZME
Donovan (center) helps children draw at an event at the Taupō Library. Photo / NZME

With over 100 picture books published, Donovan says it is a really powerful skill for his drawings to tell a story so that readers have to “read” pictures as much as words.

“The best picture books are the ones where you tell your story and communicate your ideas with pictures.”

Visiting thousands of students and conducting workshops in schools in Aotearoa helped him frame the book. He says teaching students has taught him to present complex ideas in a very simple way. He says the essential with Draw awesome he wanted to impart skills to help the reader find their own artistic voice.

“I didn’t want one of those books that teach kids to behave in my way of drawing.

“It’s always a great opportunity to be someone that aspiring artists can seek out for their skills and advice.”

When looking for inspiration, Donovan says he turns to classics like Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas. He is also inspired by storytellers like Dr Seuss and Murray Ball.

“There are a lot of ups and downs as a freelance artist. It’s so awesome when you see, wow, Leonardo da Vinci had the same issues as me.

“It helps you feel that you are not alone and that you are probably on the right track.”

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