Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Favorite Art Books Part 1

Everyone has favorite art books. Their favorite might be one of the tried and true classics, like Harold Speed's "Practice and Science of Drawing" for example. Or maybe George Bridgman's equally famous and favored "Complete Guide to Drawing from Life." Some are fans of the materials and methods books like the classic by Mayer, or the one by Eastlake. The range of books dealing with art, artists, art materials, art techniques, art exhibitions, art collaborations, and art festivals is beyond imaging. Still, there are books that have deservedly become virtually indispensable, either for the information contained within or for the images, or best, both.

I plan on uploading comments and images about favorite books here, on an occasional basis. So as a start, here are few favorites of my own, in no particular order. These are chosen for the teaching they provided me. The books listed below are from my own library shelves, mostly well-used, but a few (I have to admit) only used a time or two. Along with some information about the book itself I'll tell you why it's important to me.

Ways With Watercolor by Ted Kautzky
Originally published in 1949, this is a book that encompasses much of how to paint in watercolor. As you'd imagine, some parts (materials, brushes) are dated and of only historical interest. But Kautzky, a master of the medium, takes you through pigments, limited palette studies that begin with only two colors and progress to more, along with step by step ways to paint buildings, trees, streets, and the like. Although his style is a bit antiquated, this book has much to teach today's painters.The first edition went through about ten printings, and there is a very useful second edition that dates to 1963, shortly after Kautzky's death. Highly recommended.
Village Scene by Ted Kautzky ca. 1945 (from Ways With Watercolor)

Drawing the Head & Figure, How to Draw Animals, and Drawing Scenery: landscapes and seascapes, all by Jack Hamm
Although not famous, Jack Hamm was a very busy artist, illustrator and teacher in the 20th century (d. 1996). These books are fundamental drawing books that show the reader easily understood ways to construct believable drawings. Published in the mid-20th century, each book provides specific information. For example the book on animals shows clearly how certain animals differ structurally and how to draw many different species. There are incredibly detailed drawings demonstrating animal movements, markings, features, and a lot more. Each of the three books has probably a thousand drawings with accompanying text. Still in print, you can get all three for about $30 on Amazon. Highly recommended.
page from Drawing the Head & Figure by Jack Hamm
Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil by J.D. Hillberry (1999)
J.D. is an amazing pencil artist whom I met online years ago. His book is chock-full of wonderful drawings plus great techniques for making simple graphite drawings special with texture. One of his specialties (which I admit I enjoy a lot) is trompe l'oeil, with shallow depth and much detail. His sections on materials and methods are very useful, and the included stepwise demonstrations provide even a professional with much to think on and emulate. This book is still in print and available widely. Highly recommended.
Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil (Detail of cover)

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