Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Favorite Art Books in the Studio

As my art instruction book collection has grown over the years I find myself going back to certain books over and over particularly on a cold reading by the fire day like today. So I thought I'd post my "Island Studio Must Have Art Book List--Part One. "

Here are six of my favorite art books--in no particular preference or order. I'll post a few more in the next few weeks since I realize that I've neglected watercolor altogether here. Happy reading and painting everyone!

Oil Painting
At the time I discovered this book, most of my painting classes employed traditional earthy palettes-- Umber...It's like something Scrooge would say.  Thus, I felt an instant and thrilling connection to Ms. Sarback’s sunny Californian landscapes and still life paintings. I breathed an artistic sigh of relief gazing at the orange, green and turquoise shadows. Finally, I remember thinking, this is how I tend to see and how I’d personally prefer to paint. Who knew painting colored blocks with a palette knife could be both affirming and life changing? 

Oil Painting
I’m guessing if you polled most oil painters they would likely mention one or both of these books by Mr. McPherson as favorites. His books are tried and true oil painting reference books that reinforce all the basics. From his dazzling, but “no nonsense” limited palette to the wonderful landscape compositions, I never tire of re-reading these practical, working artist books. Plus, they are great teaching tools for all levels of painters.   

Oil Painting
I received this Mr. McCaw's book as a birthday gift and have loved it ever since. It's one of those books where you think now I'd be very happy for the rest of my life if I could paint like that. I'm always motivated and energized this artist's dazzling color sense, vigorous brush work, bold lighting, etc. I rarely splurge on art materials but I had a student once ask me if I thought it was worth the almost $200 out of print price on Amazon and I said yes--no hesitation. 

Acrylic/Mixed Media
Where to begin? First, I can’t imagine my studio (or life) without my little bottles of Golden Fluid Acrylics or Quin. Gold for that matter. I’ve seen this book referred to as a “workshop in a book” and I have to agree. I think I’ve tried just about every technique demonstrated in the book at least a few times. When I switch from representational painting to abstract work this is usually the first book I go to. Ms. Beam's process helps me get back in that world of pure creativity and exploration. I’ve also won a few awards for my paintings employing some or several of the techniques shown--so hey that's always a bonus.   

Oil Painting/Still Life
Ms. Shorr is a representational contemporary still-life painter and I believe a painting professor as well. Because my art brain sometimes thrives on busy and but well organized paintings her expansive “slice of life” high key paintings (reminiscent of Janet Fish who I also admire) really struck a chord. Best of all, you can usually find this colorful little book used on Amazon for just a few dollars.    

Art Materials/Color Theory
Yes, years later, some of this info might be outdated with so many new pigments and new manufacturer and you can’t frown upon Opera Pink in my book. But, when I first read these detailed pigment and color reference books I suspect I wasn’t the only artist who had a few major “Aha!” or even “Yikes!” moments. For example, weren’t we always a bit confused by that mysterious Cobalt “Hue” label? Let me put it this way, before I read this book, I bought Parisian French Ultramarine Blue (Extra Deep)—today I buy PB29. 

Finally, speaking of painting and books, I recently came across a Toronto based oil painter named Holly Farrell recently and am crazy about her paintings of vintage books. 

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