Anyone who reads my blog knows that I love journal facsimiles or books brimful of sketches and journal art. I've just received, from the Book Depository, one of the best such books I've ever seen—An Excuse to Draw: Tommy Kane Sketches the World. (I ordered from the Book Depository because the book was available from them immediately while there was quite a delay through Amazon.)
For a peek at some of the pages in Kane's book check out this post on his blog. He also writes a little bit about how he put his book together.
This 215-page feast of sketches from Kane's world travels is a solidly bound, 8.25 x 11.25 inch, hardcover book with sewn signatures. The uncluttered design leaves ample space for the art. Many of the drawings appear full page—even when two or more journal pages appear on a book page the art is reproduced so that all of Kane's notations are easily read.
That's important because Kane doesn't just sketch a scene from his travels, he tells stories which have a visual component that is completed by his text. Those written descriptions are every bit as crisp and colorful and full of humor and perception as his pictorial approach.
Together his words and sketches provide a wonderful glimpse into his mind and his take on the world around him. I don't know if "The Sound of Music" is really his wife Yun’s favorite musical, or whether he really thought the Austrians were saying something other than "You are shit." But I do know my heart believes he did see Salvador Dali—his writing is just that convincing, witty, and wry.
As he writes in Morocco, "My fruit at the hotel tastes like perfume. I mean that in a good way." That's the type of personality you can bear going on a world trip with.
So even though you know I'm partial to anyone who sketches squirrels (and Tommy Kane must be the world's preeminent squirrel sketcher) and you already guessed that I'd recommend this book, I'm going to go beyond that and say you need this book if visual journaling and urban sketching matter to you.
Not because the large, beautiful reproductions will allow you to study his linework and each stroke of pencil color or watercolor wash (and they will)—but because he notices things. And he does that by sitting for hours in one spot, observing; letting the world filter past and into his sketches.
We can be glad he found an excuse to draw—we’re the beneficiaries of those moments he spent sketching.
(Disclaimer: Tommy Kane is one of the six instructors in semester 1 of Sketchbook Skool [where I am also teaching] but I'm sorry to say I have no personal connection with him; I'm just a fan of his art, as you'll be, if you start reading his book, which I recommend you start doing at your earliest convenience.)
If you're still not convinced that you need to buy this book, check out what another reviewer had to say in this video.