We are delighted to present an interview with Catherine V. Holmes, illustrator and author of the bestselling 'How to Draw Cool Stuff' series. Catherine has charmed us yet again with her recent addition to the series, "How to Draw Cute Stuff: A Step-by-Step Drawing Guide for Kids." This series is beloved by both aspiring and experienced artists alike for its step-by-step guides, which transform complex images into simple, replicable shapes.
Q. Can you share the inspiration behind your new book, "How to Draw Cute Stuff"?
The inspiration behind "How to Draw Cute Stuff" is to make art accessible to younger audiences. As a mother of young children who enjoy drawing, I've found that simplification is key! I'm particularly inspired by Kawaii, a very popular drawing style currently. I wanted to focus on using simple shapes to draw fun characters. Anything can be made cute if you just add a face to it! The steps I've outlined are straightforward, enabling younger artists to follow along without the need for extensive detail.
Q.How did you decide on the age range for this book? What makes this age group unique when it comes to teaching art?
As an elementary school teacher, I realized that my current line of "How to Draw Cool Stuff" books wasn't necessarily accessible to younger students. Many children have an interest in drawing, but they often lack the proper tools to reach a final product they're satisfied with. I observed that there was a significant need for simplified steps, particularly among kindergarten, first grade, and second-grade students. A lot of younger students haven't been exposed to specific drawing techniques, so these step-by-step tutorials are especially beneficial to them.
Q. Art is considered an essential part of children's development. From your perspective as an author and artist, can you elaborate on the importance of art in the early stages of a child's life? How does learning to draw contribute to their overall growth and development?
Art plays a significant role in a child’s development. It engages children's senses in open-ended play and experimentation, fostering the growth of cognitive, socio-emotional, and multisensory skills. Art allows children to express themselves, communicate their thoughts and feelings, develop trust in their abilities, and bolster self-esteem.
Learning to draw, or engaging in art more broadly, enables children to process their experiences, create new connections and relationships, and apply their creativity and innovation. Drawing offers children a platform to explore, build upon, and record their unique creative and imaginative ideas. It also serves as a potent communication tool, enabling them to express themselves to others effectively.
Q. As a parent yourself, how have your own children influenced your understanding of art and the process of teaching it? Can you share any insights or experiences where your children have shaped your approach to writing these guides?
My children inspire and influence me constantly! I often find myself creating or discovering art to amuse or inspire them. Currently, they draw a lot of inspiration from what they see on television and online. They express the desire to recreate these things or produce something in a similar style. So, I follow their lead and create tutorials inspired by their interests. They also test these tutorials to ensure they make sense, making them my best editors!
Q. Can you share some success stories or favorite moments from young students or parents who've used your books?
I love when parents send me artwork that their children have created using my books. It's inspiring to see their different styles and the unique elements they add to their artworks. Some of my favorite moments are when students' eyes light up with excitement when they "get it." That is, they've created something they've never done before, and everything suddenly comes together and makes sense. As a teacher, I've experienced similar "a-ha" moments. For instance, I recall showing an older student how to cut a symmetrical heart - a skill usually learned in preschool. The student had never done this before and was utterly amazed when I demonstrated how to fold a piece of paper in half to create a symmetrical shape. I was delighted, but also a little sad that the student had never learned that skill before. Children never cease to surprise me.
Q. What is your favorite 'cute stuff' to draw, and why?
I'm partial to drawing kitties because I love cats! Especially big, fluffy, chubby round ones. They're so easy to create using a simple circle shape, and they're so cute!
Q. Can you share some stories or experiences from your readers that have inspired you to continue creating these kinds of books?
All the positive feedback I've received encourages me to continue doing this. Creating interesting characters and breaking them down into shapes is so much fun for me.
Q. What advice would you give to parents and teachers to motivate children to continue exploring their creativity and practicing drawing beyond your book?
Always let the child go at their own pace. And definitely encourage them to draw! Stock up on lots of different creative supplies that offer a variety of different tools that they can experiment with. Also, it’s OK to lay out some activities and ideas but always let the child take it to where they want it to go. Don’t force them to draw something that they’re not interested in. If they’re interested, they will do it. Use positive phrases and open ended questions when discussing an artwork, avoid blanket statements, like that’s good or that’s bad. (Not that you would ever say It’s bad!)
Make factual statements that show you are paying attention to the work such as “You added, a lot of orange there!" This helps your child feel free and empowered to try different things without the pressure of pleasing you or anyone else.
Q. Can you give us a glimpse into your future plans? Are there more books or projects in the pipeline that fans can look forward to?
I’m still working on a book geared towards helping aid, the creativity of toddlers and younger children. It is a labor of love, and a work in progress. Hopefully it will be on the bookshelves soon!
We highly recommend Catherine's books to parents, teachers, and anyone interested in embarking on a fun-filled artistic journey. You can find How to Draw Cute Stuff' for sale on our website, as well as on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Until our next inspiring conversation, keep exploring, keep creating, and keep drawing!