Artists' Favourite Art Books
What's Your Favourite Art Book?
This is a list of favourite art books - compiled from the responses of artists who read my popular art blog. I asked them two questions:
(1) Do you have a favourite art book? (What is is it and why?) and
(2) Is there one book which had a huge impact on you and your work?
These are their perennial favourite art books of as suggested on my blog. I've subsequently added in those books identified as top art books in later years.
If you want to share what is your favourite art book you can leave a comment at the end.
A survey of practising artists
This site started out from a survey of practising artists on my blog. I asked them which were their favourite art books.
Read my blog posts (below) to find out more about what people have had to say about learning using art instruction books and which are their favourite art books - across drawing and sketching, colour and painting using acrylics, watercolour and oil.
Favourite Books about DRAWING AND SKETCHING
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition - by Betty Edwards
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Currently Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars (363 customer reviews)
This is the latest and 4th edition of the classic drawing-instruction book by Dr. Betty Edwards that has sold more than 2,500,000 copies. It was published April 2012 and is once again topping the chart for drawing books
- Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was first published in 1979, it hit the New York Times bestseller list within two weeks and stayed there for more than a year.
- In 1989, the 2nd edition went straight to the Times list again.
- On the 20th anniversary the 3rd edition was published and sold steadily.
Keys to Drawing - by Bert Dodson
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - see my book review
Currently rated 4.7 out of 5 stars (128 customer reviews)
PLUS This is the book most people buy having read this website!
Bert Dodson's successful method of "teaching anyone who can hold a pencil" how to draw has made this book one of the most popular, best-selling art books in history -- an essential reference for every artist's library!
Dodson offers a complete system for developing drawing skills, basing his approach on 55 "keys" to drawing - rules that don't need to be memorised, but realised.
Dodson helps artists learn to trust their eyes and sharpen their observation skills through 48 practice exercises, reviews, and self-evaluations. Topics include learning to control proportion, scale, movement, depth, pattern and more!
The Drawing Book - by Sarah Simblet
"An Innovative, Practical Approach to Drawing the World Around You"
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Read more in my extended book review on my blog.
If you feel you are most comfortable with traditional rendering/realism then this is probably not the book for you.
However it emphatically earns in my view a five pencil rating for those keen to develop their drawing skills beyond technically correct rendering and/or are interested in drawing in art history and/or those who just want to develop their drawing generally.
This book is a 'must buy' - I guarantee you will be blown away by it.
Favourite Books about COLOUR
Color and Light by James Gurney - A Guide for the Realist Painter
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: James Gurney's art instruction book about colour and light is excellent and has become a BEST SELLING and constantly TOP RATED art instruction book on Amazon.
It ranked #1 in the Top 100 Painting Books BEFORE it was published on the strength of pre-publication sales.
Rated an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars by 222 customer reviews
I've always been a huge fan of the very helpful art instruction provided by artist, author and tutor James Gurney on his blog "Gurney Journey". It is no surprise he has so very many fans around the world who think the same way I do about his contribution to people learning more about the knowledge and skills involved in drawing and painting.
I followed the development of the material for this book on his blog and knew before it was published that this book was going to become a very important book about colour
Like other popular online writers and bloggers, I was then sent a review copy by James - and it is emphatically a very informative and helpful book.
Here's my book review Book Review: Color and Light by James Gurney
Making Color Sing, 25th Anniversary Edition by Jeanne Dobie - Practical Lessons in Color and Design
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 33 customer reviews
Currently ranked #1 in Books > Textbooks > Humanities > Visual Arts > Painting
If you want the bang up to date version of Jeanne Dobie's highly recommended book this is it.
This book also includes an updated listing of paint colours. These have been revised for present day knowledge about lightfastness (see also Jeanne Dobie's Palette Update Chart on her website.
Published in paperback in January 2011 - and hence not available when my original survey was done
More Books about COLOUR - recommended by practising artists
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars by 99 customer reviews on Amazon
This guide published in 2004 is by the best-selling author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
It distills the enormous existing knowledge about colour theory into a practical method of working with colour to produce harmonious combinations.This is a must-have primer for people wanting to learn more about colour by an author who focuses on making art theory and practice accessible.
This text introduces students in all the visual arts to color theory, the physiology and psychology of color perception, and the physics of color. It also offers tips for putting that knowledge into practice in a variety of media, from painting and other fine arts to interior design, architecture, fashion design, ceramics, textile design, and needlework. Four dimensions of color--"hue, value, intensity, and temperature--"are discussed in detail.
Favourite Books about being a CREATIVE ARTIST
recommended by practising artists
The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are - by Danny Gregory
RECOMMENDED - Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 112 customer reviews
A handwritten and fully-illustrated guide offers an approach to reconnecting with one's own creative energies--using drawing as an example--that ultimately leads to self-expression and creativeness without fear.
Caution - Not everybody likes the author's handwritten approach to text.
Questions about art instruction books
You're invited to leave your thoughts as a comment (see the end)
Art Instruction books are supposed to help people learn. So - here are some things to think about:
- Is it possible to become an artist just by reading books?
- Can you really learn all you need to know from books?
- Do art instruction books help to make it easier to become an artist?
- Can art instruction books - which show art as a simple step by step process - make it possible to speed up the process of learning how to make art?
Making A Mark - looks at art instruction books
These are links to the reviews of the state of the art book market and the publishing industry in 2009
- Making a Mark: Art Instruction Books #1: different ways of learning
my post today looks at art books and the curse of the 'five easy steps' mentality. What follows today and tomorrow are some thoughts on:* the way people learn* the way people learn about art* the nature of instruction available in art books and* the
- Making a Mark: Art Books #2 - the economics of publishing
Following on from Art Instruction Books #1: different ways of learning in this post I'm aiming to ponder and reflect on the economic of publishing and its influence on content.
- Making a Mark: Your favourite art books - what you like
This is for people who read art instruction books and those who write and publish them. Plus any would-be authors out there. It's grown out of the views expressed about art instruction books in the comments made on two posts last week
- Making a Mark: What sort of art book is missing from our bookshelves?
I've been asking what sort of art book is missing from our bookshelves. You've been volunteering your comments and views about which are the published books you like and what sort of book you would like to see on your shelves - if it were available.
- Making a Mark: Favourite Art Books - Resources for Artists
In January, this blog looked at art instruction books and you were invited to nominate your favourite art book - which lots of you did and then some!
Favourite Books about WATERCOLOUR PAINTING
recommended by practising artists
Favourite Books about WATERCOLOUR PAINTING - recommended by practising artists
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars by 17 customer reviews
Unique among watercolor instruction books, "The Art of Watercolor" presents a comprehensive course of study that combines studio lessons on the technical properties of the medium with art history and visual theory. 150 color illustrations.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by 22 customer reviews on Amazon.com
The most thorough guide to watercolor materials and techniques ever assembled in a single volume, this is the book for anyone working with watercolors, from beginners to experienced artists looking to develop more professional skills.
Favourite Books about OIL PAINTING
recommended by practising artists
ALLA PRIMA II: Everything I Know About Painting - and More EXPANDED EDITION - by Richard Schmid with Katie Swatland
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 38 customer reviews)
This is the second edition of Richard Schmid's famous book - now revised and expanded - but still based on the original book.
His first book was so enormously popular it went through thirteen printings - each of which sold out - before Richard Schmid brought out this revised version
Even more surprising because this is NOT a cheap book!
Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color - by Kevin MacPherson
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 85 customer reviews
A book which is very popular with a number of oil painters. Considered to be full of good tips and advice
The Oil Painting Book: Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 48 customer reviews
Bill Creevy's book is probably the most useful book when it comes to looking at oil painting materials. It also has excellent sections on on oil painting techniques.
A book for those wanting to ground themselves thoroughly in the knowledge needed to become an oil painter
Grupp on Painting
Emile Grupp's book about Direct Techniques in Oil Painting is regarded as one of the best books for all those wanting to learn about "alla prima" painting
Capturing the Moment in Oils - by David Curtis (Author), Robin Capon (Author)
RECOMMENDED - Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars (12 customer reviews)
David Curtis is an enormously popular English painter of landscapes and marine scenes who works in both oils and watercolour.
This book will appeal more to the artist looking to improve the quality of their work rather than those who need step by step instruction
In praise of older books and other people's habits when buying books
I use sites and bookshops which sell second books to buy art books which are out of print. Some of the best art books I've got are ones you can only buy second hand - and often they're in very good condition
- Greywaren Art: Thoughts on Book-Buying
Maggie Stiefvater on buying art books
- MAKING A MARK: In praise of older art books - free and digital
Seriously, I've come very late in the day to the notion of buying used books on the internet. I've also only just started to investigate the digital books which are available to read for free (or download as a file) on the Internet.
- MAKING A MARK: In praise of older art books - used and low cost
Why buy second hand art books? Here's a few reasons:* you can buy books you'd NEVER see on the art bookshelves of a book shop* you can buy classic art books which are no longer in print.
- MAKING A MARK: What types of art book do you like best? (MAM Poll Results)
The headline results (below) completely contradict the direction art instruction publishers have been taking of late - towards 'dumbing down' and ever simpler books for beginners with lots of pictures and very little text.
Last updated on September 29, 2014
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