Friday, July 31, 2009

Ten books

Rembrandt, Self portrait with Saskia image from

A reader e-mailed and asked if I would write a list of ten good books, or favorite books. I thought about it for a while and I will restrict it to books that are available, or if out of print, affordable. That leaves out some cool stuff, but whats the point if my recommending a book that you can't find? I have posted ten authors really, several entries list two books, because one is out of print and expensive,but worthwhile if you can afford it.

Carlsons guide to Landscape painting. I have written a lot about this book. Here is a link to some of that.

The Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne, another classic text,written by an important California impressionist explaining methods of designing paintings. Only available used, but is routinely reprinted. Worth spending some money to get though.

The Human Figure by Vanderpoel I felt I should include one artists anatomy book, I like this one. It is clear, well illustrated and approachable.

Sargent, by Carter Ratcliff, I have a whole shelf of Sargent books, but this one is a good overview of his whole career and different sorts of paintings.

Gruppe on Painting Great outdoor painting book. Another classic by a fine American painter.Explains his one shot, full sized canvas, rapid painting techniques with bold color and brushwork. Power painting!

Edward Seago There are several books of his paintings in print here is one.

The second is an out of print book, it is available but expensive. If you can afford that, it is the best book and I treasure my copy. I have duct taped the spine back together.

The Boston Painters by R. H. Ives Gammell (my teacher) Out of print but not expensive. Also Twilight of Painting , by Gammell. Out of print AND more expensive. Good book though. A bit of a tirade. Still informative. This book changed my life.

Keys to Successful color by Foster Caddell. Simple presentation on color in the impressionist landscape. Caddell uses a clever means of presenting tje material. He shows you an amateur version of a painting and then his and explains what he did differently. So wonderfully simple it could be used as a middle school text. I learned a lot from this book long ago.

The Painted Word, by Tom Wolfe. Great contemporary writer and author of The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities takes on the philosophical underpinnings of modern art.

Everything I Know about Oil Painting by Richad Schmid A living master writes down his approach. Worth the price. Schmid has mentored a great number of young painters and this book does cover a lot of information. A few of the ideas in here I have found no where else as clearly. Well illustrated and based on a lifetime of experience by Americas most admired traditional, impressionist painter.

This list is books that have I have returned to and studied many times. I could have written a far longer list. I included only one artist monograph, that of Sargent. I could have listed a hundred of those. But if I could have only one, this would probably be it.

Lastly, I include a book I treasure as an addendum. This book is out of print and I treasure my copy. It is quite expensive, that's why it is number eleven on a list of ten.




Great list. I agree with all of them but would have added Ted Kautzky Pencil Broadsides though out of print, it is still easy to find. Also the Willard Metcalf Yankee Impressionist book is a good introduction to Metcalf and still available from Amazon

Frank P. Ordaz said...

The Painted Word is priceless. I would add the Use and Abuse of Art by Jacques Barzun

genesis2 said...

Great post!

Probably one of the hardest things for me is colour theory; my research on the net has the name of Richad Schmid popping up as the artist, whose book Alla Prima is constantly recommended for those overwhelmed in comprehending the use of color charts, values & color mixing, .I think I need to purchase that one.

I would like to recomend the Charles Bargue Drawing Course. I am teaching myself how to draw by copying the master drawings in it. I think for me, it’s a great step in understanding the magnificent draftsmanship in academic art.

Thanks Pete

Walter Lynn Mosley said...

I told you before how much I love your painting, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is and ordering two of the books that I don't have on your book list. Thanks for this, I hope to complete the list eventually (a lot of them I do have).

Mark Oberndorf said...

What a tremendous post!! I own almost all of these books, and thank you for mentioning the few that I don't. I'll be shopping on Amazon asap! I know that you limited this list to just 10 books, but I have to throw in my 2 cents...."Landscape Painting" by Birge Harrison is in my opinion one of the best books out there on this subject. It is now available in paperback for a very reasonable price. Thanks again!!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I red Ted Kautzkys how to watercolor book in the grade school library. The drawing vbook is full of Rockport pictures including one of my old shop.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know the abuse and use of art. will check that out.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That seems to ba the big text in the ateliers these days. I was unaware of it until a few years ago.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I would have a hard time choosing.Seago is a real eye opener for Landscape painters who are unaware of him.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There are so many I coulod put on the list. I chose those which I have studied the most.

willek said...

Was at the Coast Guard Station today painting the Pettit Paint Factory in the wind and rain with a friend. Just a great day. Also got the Gruppe book and the Mulhaupt book at the NSAA auction preview.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I hope you didn't pay too much.
..............Stape said...

Hey Will,
You weren't suppose to disclose our location. Now they'll have to shoot you. Sorry, ole pal.

Hi Stapleton,
I'm getting ready for a show, so you won't be hearing from me for a week. So much to do, so little time. I'll catch up on all your posts when I get back. So, don't think you've lost a reader.... Have fun at the Cape.