Updated: Jul 29
Welcome to the exclusive interview with Catherine V. Holmes, best-selling author behind the "How to Draw Cool Stuff" series and her latest book, the soon-to-be-released "How to Draw Awesome Stuff".
Catherine V. Holmes is an art teacher and visual artist from historical Plymouth, MA. She earned her BFA and MA in Education from Boston University and Bridgewater State College, followed by a second Masters Degree in Education from Scranton. Catherine specializes in portraits, architecture and illustrations. Her art is inspired by her feelings, ideas, and experiences, whether they are found in nature, the media or in man-made structures. Catherine is also heavily influenced by the interests and suggestions of her students. "To see success through their eyes inspires me to be a better teacher and creator of art." As an accomplished artist and educator, Catherine has spent years inspiring students and nurturing their artistic talents. Her newest book, "How to Draw Awesome Stuff" will be released on May 23rd, 2023 in paperback, and October 2nd, 2023 in hardcover.
Could you provide a brief summary of your new book, "How to Draw Awesome Stuff: Chilling Creations," and share what inspired you to write it?
"How to Draw Awesome Stuff" is the latest addition to the "How to Draw Cool Stuff" series, taking it to the next level with unique (and occasionally creepy) how-to illustrations that are sure to teach students new and captivating techniques.
As an art teacher who works with children, in what ways has your classroom experience influenced the content and structure of your "How to Draw Cool Stuff" series?
My first series was entirely inspired by my students. I worked at a residential facility and students would ask me how to draw particular things. They had no internet access or books on the subject, so I created information sheets for them upon request so they could practice on their own when I wasn't there to help.
Many people associate drawing with more traditional or classical subjects. What do you think makes creepy drawings particularly appealing or interesting for both children and adults?
Traditional drawings offer valuable learning opportunities, and those lessons can also be applied to non-traditional drawings. When learning, it helps if the subject matter is interesting to the student. I want everyone to find something they enjoy, and for some, that might be creepy (or spooky) art!
How do you strike a balance between teaching the fundamentals of drawing and fostering creativity and imagination, particularly when dealing with an unconventional subject matter?
As mentioned earlier, there is not a "one size fits all" way of learning. Individualized approaches, modifications, and accommodations are necessary to cater to each student, included in that is the subject matter itself. For some, drawing a stringy skull may be more appealing than a delicate rose. When the subject suits the student, they are more likely to enjoy learning. Fostering a love for learning is the greatest predictor of creative and intellectual success.
How do you address the topic of fear and darker aspects of art with children in a manner that is both educational and age-appropriate?
This book may not be suitable for all children, so parents should exercise their best judgment in this case. The illustrations aren't overly creepy or inappropriate, but some children might not appreciate them. Parents should evaluate whether the book aligns with their child's understanding and readiness to learn. Adults can make this decision for themselves. The objective is for students to be entertained and derive educational value from the book.
Are there any particular artists or renowned paintings that have inspired your own creepy drawing style or the content of your book?
My students, particularly my children, are my greatest source of inspiration. I always show them my drawings and seek their opinions. I have made adjustments based on their suggestions to make my illustrations more suitable or even creepier!
Can you share any success stories or memorable moments from your classroom where students have been especially engaged with one of your books?
I have provided my book to several classrooms and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. During free reading time, there is one boy with special needs who makes a beeline for the shelf to grab my book and draw from it at every chance he gets. He frequently expresses his thoughts and needs through art, and it's heartwarming to know I can help him do that.
What do you hope readers, particularly young artists, will learn from your book and apply to their own artistic pursuits?
You are a unique individual with a distinct style. Anyone can draw, but no one can draw precisely like you. Don't compare your style or skills to others. Have fun and never stop drawing!
Lastly, what projects are you currently working on?
A long time in the making, a "How to Draw Cool Stuff" book for the little ones. It focuses on helping pre-K children explore lines, shapes, and creating a likeness. When my twins were toddlers, I couldn't find a suitable book to help me in this endeavor, so I taught them what I knew. At the moment, I'm compiling what I believe is an excellent resource to assist young children in their creative pursuits while still allowing them the freedom to have fun and engage in non-representational art.