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10 Best Art Books


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A personal selection of ten art books that have shaped my art.

Published in: Art & Photos
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10 Best Art Books

  1. 1. 10 Best Art Books A Personal Selection by Malcolm Dewey Fine Art
  2. 2. 1. Landscape Painting Inside And Out by Kevin Macpherson No landscape painter's studio is complete without a copy of this book by this world renowned artist. Macpherson is a top plein air painter who lives his art with a generous spirit. This book is filled with tips and demonstrations of plein air and studio paintings. "Paint by the pound" is one of my favorite quotes which refers to the author's lavish use of paint to get rich textures and colors on his canvas. I think Macpherson more than any other inspired me to paint shapes and values instead of fiddly details. It takes a leap of faith, but it is worth it. Try it for yourself. (P.S. Kevin Machperson's other book "Fill Your Oil Paintings With Light and Color" is also a keeper)
  3. 3. 2. Landscape Painting by Mitchell Albala This is a thorough work covering materials, approach and process for landscape painting in and out of the studio. Albala uses his work and that of other artists to illustrate the essential concepts of shape, color and value. He also covers the use of photography in painting and how to explore the world of abstract landscape painting. This should cover all you need to know about painting landscapes, but as we all realise there is no end to learning so we gladly forge on!
  4. 4. 3. The Painterly Approach by Bob Rohm While this book also touches on techniques it is more useful to show us the difference between the painterly approach and the linear "realist" approach. As you may note I appreciate a painterly approach that emphasises my personal way of seeing and expressing. Although Rohm's paintings are representational he uses big shapes, values and color for a loose and lively painting style that gives so much more to the viewer. If you are interested in this style then this book will help you achieve the painterly approach.
  5. 5. 4. Paintings in Oil and Watercolour by Jane Corsellis This British artist is a master at both oils and watercolor. Corsellis' book is not a how-to book, but is rather an insight into her process. The author speaks candidly about her reasons for painting and her approach to oils and watercolor so that you get an idea of how to look at your own subject. Corsellis paints landscapes, still-life and interiors together with figure studies all with a loose and energetic style. From composing a picture to working through the problems of expressing her response to the subject this book gives a unique and personal view of the artist. The book is also lavishly illustrated with her magnificent paintings and sketches.
  6. 6. 5. Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting by Richard Schmid American artist Richard Schmid is considered to be one of the world's greatest artists. So a book that professes to contain all he knows about painting must surely be essential for your library, not so? This book does no disappoint as it covers a wide arc of skills and approaches to various subjects. It is not an easy book for the beginner or the occasional painter. This book requires your careful attention and thought to get the most benefit from Schmid's wisdom. Make no mistake there is no short cut to mastery and Schmid shows a tremendous work ethic. This is good to know. Art is sublime and wonderful, but also requires work. You will read this book many times and learn from it over the years.
  7. 7. 6. Hawthorne on Painting For something different the extracts from Hawthorne's critiques of art student's work is both insightful and instructive. Hawthorne is also an inspiration to many great artists including Kevin Macpherson so it is worth adding this book to your collection. Hawthorne stood out for me with his emphasis on painting shapes of color mixed to the correct value. There is nothing else that the artist need do. Forget the details. Look for truth in shapes and color. It sounds so simple yet it is perhaps one of the greatest hurdles that new artists need to overcome. This approach applies to portraits, landscapes and still life. There are no illustrations in the e-book that I downloaded, but that does not detract from the message.
  8. 8. 7. Capturing The Moment In Oils by David Curtis and Robin Capon I love the honest and sympathetic approach of David Curtis. His paintings of the English countryside evoke peace and harmony yet they are not choc-box paintings. His work sparkles with light and energy, full of life. Curtis leads us through his ideas and process covering many subjects and methods to add impact to our paintings. I do admit to wanting to know more about the artist's methods and you will understand this when you see how a few of his brushstrokes creates magical color effects. It certainly inspires, but leaves me in no doubt that what we need as artists is consistent work and time to master our art.
  9. 9. 8. The Art Spirit by Robert Henri If in doubt about the importance of art and whether you have a contribution to make then Robert Henri's personal philosophy will renew your own spirit. A gifted teacher and committed artist Henri's wisdom inspired many young artists to become masters over time. Read a few pages each day, mark passages that inspire you and go back to it from time to time. A panacea for a parched artist's soul!
  10. 10. 9. An Artist Empowered: Define and Establish You Value As An Artist Now by Eden Maxwell Philosophy, art and zen are woven together in this fascinating view of the artist's personal journey. Is art your purpose in life? Your calling? This is a profoundly difficult question to answer in a materialist world where we are judged in monetary terms. Fear of starving as an artist? This book will remind you that it is your soul that is at stake. Be brave and true to your calling.
  11. 11. 10: Gardner's Art Through the Ages : A global History I could not leave out this essential work for the true student of art. The book I studied thirty years ago has been consistently expanded and revised over the years. It covers the development of art in it various mediums throughout the world from pre-civilisation to present day. An investment for sure.
  12. 12. Plus: Carlson’s Guide To Landscape Painting As a bonus selection: The book that every artist can learn the fundamentals from. John F Carlson’s book covers the essentials of value, color and composition. In depth advice on painting trees and clouds will be appreciated by landscape artists too. A classic.