Books on Art (technique and theory)

Hi everyone, ……. wanted to share with you some of my newly acquired art books:

books on art technique

Arthur L. Guptill

Watercolor painting step by step – Arthur L. Guptill

Guptill’s books are my favourite, favourite art books … I love, love  his sketches, especially the ones done in watercolor. Guptill was not only a painter, an art director and a teacher but also an architect, so inevitably his perspective is always bang on yet somehow still managing to look effortlessly done. ‘ Watercolor painting step by step ‘ covers a lot of ground from color mixing and schemes, drawing from the photograph and still life, composition and arrangement of values to painting outdoors and various landscape elements divided into sections. That said, most (but not all) of this material is covered in his other books, which are available for free, such as in : Drawing with pen and ink, and a word concerning the brush, by Arthur L. Guptill. Here are some pages from this book to slurp over:

Watercolor painting step by step - Arthur L. Guptill

Watercolor painting step by step – Arthur L. Guptill

Watercolor painting step by step - Arthur L. Guptill

Watercolor painting step by step – Arthur L. Guptill

Watercolor painting step by step - Arthur L. Guptill

Watercolor painting step by step – Arthur L. Guptill

‘ Carlson’s guide to landscape painting’ by John F. Carlson is another gem, if you are new to landscape painting or even just to sketching, you have to , have to have this book on your bookshelf. You will not find any color illustrations in here but his simple pencil drawings drive home the point much better than any lavish color pictures would have done. His theory of angles I found invaluable, also perspective of clouds, trees etc is covered in a more approachable right-brained-thinking kind of a way.

 ' Carlson's guide to landscape painting' by John F. Carlson

‘ Carlson’s guide to landscape painting’ by John F. Carlson

 ' Carlson's guide to landscape painting' by John F. Carlson

‘ Carlson’s guide to landscape painting’ by John F. Carlson

 ' Carlson's guide to landscape painting' by John F. Carlson

‘ Carlson’s guide to landscape painting’ by John F. Carlson

 ' Carlson's guide to landscape painting' by John F. Carlson

‘ Carlson’s guide to landscape painting’ by John F. Carlson

‘The Laws guide to drawing birds’ by John Muir Laws , another  beautiful, beautiful book that I highly recommend for beginners in bird drawing. Laws covers everything you need to know to draw birds; bird anatomy, bird flight, field sketching, using different mediums etc. What I like most about the book is  that it is simple and direct and gets the point across using a lot of illustrations. Bird sketching should be enjoyable, its more about getting out into nature and feeling one with her, about observing and learning, immersing oneself in the experience of it and less on whether you have a page full of perfect drawings at the end and this is what Laws lays emphasis on.

'The Laws guide to drawing birds' by John Muir Laws

‘The Laws guide to drawing birds’ by John Muir Laws

'The Laws guide to drawing birds' by John Muir Laws

‘The Laws guide to drawing birds’ by John Muir Laws

‘Color and Light – A guide for the realist painter’ by the famed creator of Dinotopia, James Gurney, is a 200+ page book full of the most gorgeous paintings by himself as well as other great artists. He writes a blog at http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.de/ which I love to follow. This book covers topics like sources of light, light and form, pigments, visual perception, most of all I like the chapter on atmospheric effects. (Another book which I so want to get on this topic is   ‘The Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air’ By M. Minnaert. Minnaert was an astronomer and his classic book explains  several interesting and common natural phenomenon such as reflection and refraction of light, formation of rainbows, haloes , coronae, light and color in the sky and in the landscape…)

'Color and Light - A guide for the realist painter' by  James Gurney

‘Color and Light – A guide for the realist painter’ by James Gurney

'Color and Light - A guide for the realist painter' by  James Gurney

‘Color and Light – A guide for the realist painter’ by James Gurney

‘Interaction of Color by Josef Albers‘ deals with somewhat more advanced areas in Color Theory. Albers was one of the most influential artist-educators of the twentieth century. He didnot give concepts straight out to his students, instead he made them cut out various tints, tones and shades of colors from magazines, place them one against the other and observe their interactions. This book has a number of color plates illustrating principles like after-images, simultaneous contrast, transparence and space illusion, Bezold effect, Weber-Fechner Law, vibrating boundaries, vanishing boundaries to name just a few. If you are new to this great man’s work, check out these videos Color Luminosity by Richard Nelson and Color Relativity to stimulate your interest.

'Interaction of Color by Josef Albers'

‘Interaction of Color by Josef Albers’

'Interaction of Color by Josef Albers'

‘Interaction of Color by Josef Albers’

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Free hand Designs

Freehand Designs 1

Freehand Designs 2

Freehand Designs 3

Freehand Designs 4

Freehand Designs 5

Freehand Designs 6

             Have I mentioned this great book which is in the public domain: The American drawing book by J.G. Chapman? Well, I was doing a few exercises  from it, like so –

      ….and you can understand that a whole day of this can get somewhat constrictive…… and I wanted to swing my pen a little …. so towards the end of the day, dinner done and the dishes done, sitting in front of the TV watching ‘Shanghai noon’, I ended up with these freehand designs. Usually when I am doodling, I do the same favorite curves again and again (mostly like the first one in this post, the one with the hearts) and this time I am glad I wound up doing different and unusual ones.

         The same principles apply here for decorative designs that you would use in fine art, I´ve written an article on this over here, you can have a look at The Elements and Principles of Art.

1. A focal interest brings the eye towards the area, and other elements can shoot outwards from this. (symmetrically or asymmetrically)

2. Designs can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

3. There should be a rhythm that can be sensed through out the design.

4. They should feel harmonious and united.

           One way to make a design look united is to use the same elements over and over again through out it. These elements can naturally be varied to provide interest. For example, in my first design, I have used the heart symbol repeatedly; the second one has a chaff of wheat motive (my son´s kindergarten chart was lying beside me on which he had stuck these pieces of nature on); the fourth one has variations of crescent moons in it. If you need inspiration, you don´t have to look far, nature offers endless varieties of motifs….

Upside down Drawing and Contour Drawing

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso

These drawings are based on the book Betty Edwards ‘The new Drawing on the Right side of the Brain’. You must already be familiar with the concept of the two hemispheres of the brain, the left and right sides, working in two radically opposite ways, sometimes co-operating and sometimes ..well… not so co-operating with each other. The left brain is symbolic, linear, logical, rational, breaking things down to analyze whereas the right side is non-verbal, intuitive, playful, holistic, putting things together to make the whole and able to grasp the ‘whole’ at once. In this famous book, the author, Betty Edwards, argues that the act of drawing is and should be altogether an activity of the right brain which deals with the ‘now and factual’ and not of the left brain which is hasty and prone to substitute symbols (of what it is already in possession of) for what it attempts to draw instead of actually seeing what is actually there before it; (for e.g.. make circle shapes for eyes instead of making the curves that it actually sees in front of it) and is the main reason why most people feel they cannot draw well.

I drew the drawing (above image)( took me half an hour to do it) upside down, from top to bottom trying not to be aware of the names of the parts that I was drawing, like, face, legs, chair etc.. I am really amazed of how it turned out. I did not block out the whole form, dimensions etc, I just started from the top with small little lines trying to copy the lines exactly… by the time I reached the hands, however, I couldn´t help thinking that these were the fingers etc. and that´s where the drawing started to go off; but all in all… I am just amazed, the foreshortened leg, as she says, would have been difficult to draw but its come out perfect without even erasing and well.. its a man (a funny looking one, but still) sitting nice and upright in his chair. Here it is, the right side up:

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso, right side up

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso, right side up

This one is contour drawing of the wrinkles of the hand, drawn without looking at what I was drawing. As you can see, I could n´t manage the 5 mins recommended in the book, I kept thinking (the left brain, no doubt), it was a waste of time, I must be scribbling lines all over one another and that nothing would come out of it but again I was amazed. The lines make a really pretty pattern and I did n´t draw any of them over each other and it was rather painfully obvious to me that this spontaneous/somehow whole/ natural-looking  drawing can never be the result of a left-brain activity.

Contour Drawing

Contour Drawing

Naturally, one cannot be drawing upside down nor draw without looking all the time, but I feel these are really beneficial exercises to do and loosen-up and make the shift to the R-mode before actually starting to draw or paint. I usually do experience what she calls the ‘the shift to R-mode’, being alert and focused yet relaxed and happy sometimes even blissful, and not being aware of the time at all, while I am painting but drawing..  I don´t know… especially now, when I am all the time thinking about perspective and anatomy…more left-brained, I gather… that´s why I decided to do this book. A great book, totally worth the time spent on it.

Drawing Lessons form the Great Masters – Robert Beverly Hale

 

Drawing Lessons form the Great Masters - Robert Beverly Hale

Front Cover

Robert Beverly Hale was an artist and curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New york City. He gave lectures on figure drawing and anatomy at the Arts Students League of New York over a period of 40 years.

World famous Lectures of Robert Beverly Hale

‘Drawing Lessons from the great Masters’ by Robert Beverly Hale is a dream. He really makes you see and understand for yourself by putting things across so simply. In this book, he takes a 100 or so of illustrations of the old masters and points out the basic principles which go into the creation of the figures, also pointing out meticulously/making you see where you could be going wrong. His style is simple but very interesting and funny too. He advises you to ‘please buy some bones’! Now, where to get bones……

Drawing Lessons form the Great Masters - Robert Beverly Hale

Preface

Drawing Lessons form the Great Masters - Robert Beverly Hale

Index

Drawing Lessons form the Great Masters - Robert Beverly Hale

Index

Drawing Lessons form the Great Masters - Robert Beverly Hale

Back Cover

Claus Grimm Stillleben

 

Claus Grimm Stillleben

Claus Grimm Stillleben - Die Italienischen, Spanischen und Französischen Meister

Books!! I just love books.. on many different kinds of subjects but of course, the ones on art are specially dear to me. Whenever I find a good book, I always feel like I am floating, walking on air the whole day, at the anticipation of relaxing into it at the end of the day. This is one such that I love having…no… possessing.. ha ha… I would most definitely have a larger number of art books in my collection if English ones were as readily available here as the German ones. But, not understanding the language well did not come in my way of buying this one! It contains some heavy Deutsch, maybe one day I will finish reading it! But for now I really enjoy being mesmerized at the amazing still lifes in here, of the Italian, Spanish and French masters of old, many from the Baroque period from Caravaggio till Corazza. The book has about 250 pages and the pictures really are of outstanding quality. There is is another one by Claus Grimm on Stilllifes of the Netherlandish and German masters which would be a real joy to have. I don´t know if these are available in the English versions, I haven´t been able to find them.

Claus Grimm Stillleben - Die Italienischen, Spanischen und Französischen Meister

Claus Grimm Stillleben - Die Italienischen, Spanischen und Französischen Meister

Claus Grimm Stillleben - Die Italienischen, Spanischen und Französischen Meister

Claus Grimm Stillleben - Die Italienischen, Spanischen und Französischen Meister

Claus Grimm Stillleben - Die Italienischen, Spanischen und Französischen Meister

Back Cover

Andrew Loomis – Figure drawing for all its worth

Figure drawing for all its worth - pg 59

Figure drawing for all its worth - pg 59

Andrew Loomis – Successful Drawing (perspectives) – 2

 Successful Drawing - pg 65

Successful Drawing - pg 65

Andrew Loomis – Successful Drawing (perspectives)

Successful Drawing - Pg 52

Successful Drawing - Pg 52

Wow! Honestly, his books are so amazing…..the more I read them, the more my respect for him increases; everything is structured so well and he has covered every aspect of art in illustration. I have been so excited these past few weeks, having so many issues I have had for so long being clarified; I couldnt´t bear to part with them even for a little while, so I took them on my vacation!

I thought I would show some of my drawings from his book. If you are going to do them, I suggest that maybe you start with a basic book on perspective first, like the one I mentioned in my previous post (which he recommends), before starting on this one. Doing this, I feel like a big mountain has moved away from the creative path that I am on. Seriously, it is almost impossible to find the (many, many) right resources, with the right angle, right eye-level, right light-source; that you would need for bringing your ideas onto paper…which is why learning to draw well in perspective is a tool which you can´t afford not to have on your creative journey. Set squares, divider, ruler, a large book (A3 or A2 because you need to space the vanishing points far enough apart, you don´t want to end up having half your drawings on the table) and a few weeks set apart are all that you need…. and a small tip….if you find the lines getting confusing and they are all kind of swimming in front of your eyes – use different colored pencils for different set of lines, ones which you need to set apart perhaps towards the completion ..works like a charm!

Watercolor fruit and vegetables by Billy Showell

 

Obst und Gemüse - Aquarelle Malen - Billy Showell

                 I really like botanical painting a lot, so when I found this book by the botanical artist, Billy Showell at our library, I got very excited. I read the whole book through, with an English-German dictionary by my side. It has lovely pictures of beautifully rendered fruits and vegetables, along with information on the colors and materials she uses, drawing tips,lighting and composition tips, watercolor techniques, a chapter on how to build form through light and shade, a demo on how to paint white subjects and some flowers too. At the end, there are four large, detailed projects of a kohlrabi, still life with pumpkins, a lemon and the heart of berries which is on the cover. There are lots of photos for each step from the beginning to the end, so the demos are easy to follow along. A very useful book to have if you`re a beginner in watercolor and want to start off with paintings fruits and vegetables from real life.

Obst und Gemüse - Aquarelle Malen - Billy Showell

Obst und Gemüse - Aquarelle Malen - Billy Showell

‘Painting the Allure of Nature’ by Susan D. Bourdet

 

       This book again is a visual treat to the eyes. These are the four complete demos, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter that I had done from the book, with only a small amount of masking: (done in late 2007)

spring-summer

 autumn-winter