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Interview with Catherine V. Holmes, Author / Illustrator of the "How to Draw Cool Stuff" series

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Catherine V. Holmes is an art/ELA teacher and visual artist from historical Plymouth, Massachusetts. She studied at Boston University and at Bridgewater State College where she earned her BFA and MA in ED. She is currently working towards her second Master s from the University of Scranton. Catherine Holmes 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."

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a mom of twins, artist, and schoolteacher. I love setting up play stations and drawing with my girls as well as traveling with my family and friends (who doesn’t enjoy getting away after this pandemic)!

How did this book come to be?

If you are referring to the 1st “How to Draw Cool Stuff” . . . This book evolved out of necessity. After exploring art catalogs and libraries and wading through the “how to draw” section of bookstores, I found a few good resources but none that had all the qualities I was looking for in a drawing book. Some ideas were too basic and often insulting to my older, more artistic students. Other material seemed to serve as a showcase for beautiful artwork but lacked any concrete instruction.

As a “traveling” art teacher with a limited budget and limited preparation time, I need a single resource that is easy to transport and can be used to teach all levels of students from middle school to high school and beyond. This book was created to fill that need, and I want to share it with teachers and artists in similar situations. These projects will allow you to bring interesting and informative lessons that offer clear objectives and foster achievement without the need for expensive/multi-dimensional supplies; a regular pencil and eraser is all that is needed (sometimes a ruler). Fancy art pencils, costly paper, or kneaded erasers are not required for success. All pages have been student tested and approved.

How did you learn how to teach drawing?

I was formally trained as an artist at Boston University. I later earned my teaching certification and Master’s Degree from Bridgewater State. I have always felt compelled to explain my process or show people how to draw things by breaking down complex objects and forms into simpler shapes.

Did you have any influential art instructors? What was helpful about how they taught?

I always felt at home in the art room during my school years. A place where I can open up and talk with friends while being my true, creative self, shown through my art. All of my art teachers saw potential in me and fostered it, building up my confidence. Teachers rock!

What would you tell someone who just feels they’re “bad at drawing” but has always wanted to draw?

Everyone can draw, but no one can draw just like you. Drawing is a skill to be learned, not a talent you are born with. Anyone can learn to draw if they have the will and the patience.

Do you carry around a sketchbook? If so, what do you find yourself sketching most often and why?

No - I carry around supplies (think snacks, water, clothing changes, sunblock, gloves, jackets, etc.) for my young twin daughters! I do always have a set of fun supplies stashed in my car and at my mom’s house, though. You never know when the urge to make will come about.

What artists do you admire most? Why?

I love Michelangelo. I had the pleasure to see the Sistine chapel and was blown away. I also appreciate more contemporary artists. I love the loose styles and free color choices used in abstract or non-representational works. It is hard to loosen up and make such creations.

What are you working on next? A New book! I am hoping to bring the “how to draw cool stuff” name to younger artists. Ages 2-9 is my target audience for the next one.

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