A Very Artistic Library

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. This page, A Very Artistic Library, will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art.

A Very Artistic Library

Art Manuals: Drawing

Learning to draw is the first skill that you need to learn in order to paint. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards will teach you how to learn to draw what you see. If you can’t make art in simple black lines then it makes it so much harder when you try to add value, shape, and color. Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin will teach you what you should’ve been taught in art school: the process that classical and master artists used to create their drawings and a good foundation for creating thumbnails and sketches that will eventually become paintings. These two books together will help you create the drawing for your painting; what the Renaissance artists would have called the composition or cartoon.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards

Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin

Art Manuals: Painting

Learning to paint — how to make a compostion, sketches, different painting techniques, tools, supports, etc. These four works give a comprehensive review of painting, from painting what you see, to painting what’s impossible to see, to explaining what it is that you actually see. These are the books that you should pour over, read repeatedly, and constantly review year after year.

Alla Prima II by Richard Schmid with Katie Swatland

Richard Schmid breaks down the components of the craft, techniques, and process of painting. It’s no longer in print, but if you can find it, it’s an excellent resource.

Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist by James Gurney

Imaginative Realism isn’t about painting aliens and dinosaurs and dragons. OK, it isn’t just about painting aliens and spaceships and dragons. It’s also about painting real things that you’re unlikely to see: ancient civilizations, historical personages, and extinct animals. And to top it off James Gurney reviews what you’d need to consider in the process of getting work done — everything that I learned in Commercial Art — thumbnails, color studies, drawing from photographs, and more.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques by Patrick J. Jones

Patrick Jones gives us another comprehensive look that serves as a complement to Imaginative Realism. While James Gurney explored the traditional process, Patrick Jones gives more detail for working from photos and using digital painting.

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney

Color and Light is well worth the price if all you take away from this book is the understanding of the following gem: “Under normal lighting conditions, the rods and cones cooperate to give you an interpretation of reality.” but the book contains so much more and many more gems just like it.