Friday, January 08, 2016

Favorite Art Books, Part 2

The Student's Guide to Painting by Jack Faragasso
This book has been out of print for many years but if you can find a copy (Amazon lists it used sometimes) it can provide a path through the formal planning and execution of oil paintings. Faragasso has been an instructor at the Art Students League for nearly half a century and continues to teach there even now, this book dates to the 1970s. So far as I know it's been out of print since at least the 1980s.

In his intro to the book, Faragasso notes that it is "based largely on the teachings of my instructor, the late Frank Reilly." The general ideas that Faragasso (and Reilly) espouse is that creativity comes after craft and that to learn to paint you have to learn each small step thoroughly before racing ahead to make a picture. Faragsso takes you through the steps he believes are critical to learn in the order that he and Reilly believed they should be mastered. He begins not with drawing or materials, but with color.

The initial chapter on color is very useful, particularly the color images showing how sunlight affects chroma and value. The basic discussion of hue, chroma, and value is based in the color ideas taught by Reilly. Faragasso also takes the student through the mixing of color and how to make neutral greys. In the short but very informative chapters that follow Faragasso takes you through value patterns, lighting, shade, and more before arriving at the entire palette of colors. In the chapter named The Palette he takes you through comparisons of masters' palettes, particularly Holbein, and then the "Reilly palette" and shows a color print of a variety of standard human complexions. In the following chapter, he covers mixing of color tones. Succeeding chapters deal with how to begin, continue and finish oil paintings. He covers both figurative work and portraiture, showing how to lay in the painting and mass the various colors and values.

For me, this was a no nonsense work that added a lot to my working knowledge as I began to be more serious about the craft of painting, and in particular about color.
Faragasso is still painting and teaching. His website is linked below.

 Fun With a Pencil by Andrew Loomis
While many hail the author's justly famous Creative Illustration, this little book is still my favorite by Loomis. This book is easily accessible for anyone from a diligent 10 year old to an adult who wants to learn to draw a little. The original was published in 1939 and subsequently reprinted numerous times. There is a current edition (available on Amazon) that dates from the early part of this century, perhaps based on the old Loomis editions, but I don't know if the contents are the same, although the covers are identical. I have the 1944 edition, and suggest you try to get one of the early printings too, if you can.

Fun With a Pencil, p. 12 (detail)

This book is wonderfully simple and builds on the basics. Loomis starts with the circle and adds to that, building cartoon heads, then realistic heads. He moves on to expression and poses, then how to put the head on a body, how the figure is constructed and how it moves in space, and then on to more advanced material like clothing, shoes, and how to put figures together in space. Whew. A lot in less than 100 pages. The third part is even more compressed, yet full of useful diagrams showing how to place a figure in perspective, how to build realistic drawings of interiors, and considerably more. Although it is a beginner's book it's one you can use yourself or with younger students. I still noodle around with my copy once in a while to reinforce ideas and techniques.
Fun With a Pencil, p. 12 (detail)

The other Loomis classic, Creative Illustration, is certainly worth the time, but in my opinion, this one is more widely useful, considerably more basic, and I recommend it highly.

Favorite Art Books Part 1

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