Learning to draw from nature; Nature Drawing: A Tool for Learning, by Clare Walker Leslie. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall Inc. $9.95 (paperback).

By , Mary S. Cowen is a free-lance art writer.

"Nature Drawing: A Tool for Learning" meand just what it says. It is a sound , practical introduction to what could well become a lifetime occupation and pleasure in studying nature and rendering the results.

Drawing is an excellent means of learning to see, to observe carefully, and it once was an essential part of the training of natural scientists. It should be considered essential for everyone. This book is a good complement to our excessively verbal mode of learning.

Clare Walker Leslie rightly notes, "There is no one way to draw nature. There is only the way that suits you." She proceeds to teach some simple beginning techniques. A few of the principles might be used by children under 10, but it is mainly the older ones who will really benefit, because their coordination is more fully developed, along with their broader interest in a world outside themselves.

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Adults will get even more out of the book, and the author's suggestion of keeping a visual diary is splendid. The act of drawing somehow fixes images in thought as it helps one to look carefully and discover much more than a casual glance reveals.Even a swiftly executed sketch can sometimes outdo a camera in recording essential information.

The book's 8-by-11-inch format is reasonable, but some of the illustrations are too small for easy study. The fine print accompanying them may be difficult for some people, in contrast to the bulk of the instructional drawings and text, which are comfortable to read.

At the end of each chapter on nature subjects is a good bibliography for further reading. Ample information about drawing materials and techniques appear in the beginning of the book, with an emphasis on what is readily available.

The main thing is to begin, to have fun while you explore the world around you indoors as well as outdoors through drawing, and to keep at it. Practice, practice, practice. It's not a chore. It's one of the greatest delights one can have.

The book is part of a larger series, which the publisher calls Phalarope Books, issued under its Spectrum Series logo. "Nature Drawing" is also included in the Spectrum Art and Design Series.

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