Between budget cuts and high-stakes testing, there is less room today for the arts in our educational system. Parents who value the arts or who want to support their child’s creative endeavors are often forced to seek out expensive after-school programs such as art classes and music lessons.

But there is a cheaper, and in some cases, better way. Books! If your child loves to draw or paint, consider arming them with a supply of how-to books. They’ll learn new techniques, feel inspired, and take their early tinkering to a whole new level.

Here are eight art books for your aspiring Picasso:

 Draw500

“Draw 500 Series”

by Quarry Books

Quarry Books’ “Draw 500” series for the little artist in the family is a winning collection of guidebooks. These pocket-sized gems are filled with 500 illustrations covering everything from faces and features to nature and animals.

These are not step-by-step books, but a reduction of the elements that make up each piece so that a child can take the “pieces” in the future and create their own, one-of-a-kind designs.


20WaysToDrawACat

“20 Ways to Draw Series”

by Quarry Books

Also from Quarry Books, the “20 Ways” series features a wide variety of instructional sketchbooks. With illustrated examples on over a hundred themes – trees, flowers, sea creatures, cute little animals, and more – your eager artist will never have a shortage of inspiration.

No extra paper needed either. There’s room on the pages for your child to practice their creations. Each example is simplified, modernized, and reduced to the most basic elements, showing how abstract shapes and forms create the building blocks of any item your child wants to draw.


 BotanicalLineDrawing

“Botanical Line Drawing”

by Peggy Dean

Line drawing is an easy art form that resembles doodles. The form is perfect for kids because there are no challenging techniques to learn. Line drawing looks amazing as a standalone piece, but also works well when incorporating watercolor, hand lettering, etc.

“This book has very clear instructions, and I love all the variety. An ‘artist’ at any level would be able to master the pictures with some practice,” says one Amazon reviewer.


Dangles

“The Art of Drawing Dangles”

by Olivia A. Kniebler

Dangles are a new, fun art form for people who love to color. And kids love to color! Featuring 50 projects, “The Art of Drawing Dangles” teaches kids to add charms and pretty embellishments to letters and artwork to create a dangle.

Dangles can transform oopsies trash-bound pieces into unique works of art. Each project is easy to follow and includes simple instructions.


 IfYouCanDoodleYouCanPaint

“If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint”

by Diane Culhane

Doodling is a first step toward drawing and painting bigger creations. Since doodling flows naturally from a person, “If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint” is the perfect primer for young artists.

The book is filled with easy-to-follow exercises, which lead up to the grand finale of how to transfer a doodle to something much, much bigger.


 Abstracts

“Abstracts in Acrylic and Ink”

by Jodi Ohl

If your child is excelling in drawing or painting, it might be time to introduce them to a more complex area…abstract art. There are 22 fun-to-follow projects with insider tips on creating incredible abstracts in “Abstracts in Acrylic and Ink.”

Children can dabble with graffiti-style art, learn to add a stain, and achieve modern image transfers. “A wonderful book of clear instructions on step-by-step creative exploration of materials and abstract expressionist tips,” says one Amazon reviewer.


LetsDrawCuteAnimals

“Illustration School: Let’s Draw Cute Animals”

by Sachiko Umoto

Created by one of Japan’s most popular artists, this book provides detailed and complete instruction for illustrating fun and appealing characters and elements that celebrate life (back cover). Author and artist Sachiko

Author and artist Sachiko Umoto’s distinct style offers simple, fun, and playful designs that pop from a page. The method he uses is so simplistic that even young kids will quickly catch on. In this book, they’ll learn to draw cute animals using his whimsical style.


 StarBranch

“Star, Branch, Spiral, Fan: Learn to Draw from Nature’s Perfect Design Structures”

by Yellena James

This gorgeous flexibound book makes it an ideal addition to your budding artist’s library. Inside, they’ll learn how to observe the structure of nature’s forms so they can draw the things they see outside.

Using a bit of math, natural objects come to life: “the radial star at the center of snowflakes, fruits, and flowers, and the arms of starfish; spirals at the heart of nautilus shells, unfurling plants, and swirling storm systems.”

Which books for the aspiring Picasso would you add to this list? Share in the comments below!