I am occasionally asked if there are any good books that I would recommend to artists and just wanted to share a few of my favorites with you.
The Painter in Oil by Burleigh Parkhurst. This book was originally published in 1898 by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., but has since been reprinted by Dover Publications and is an excellent source of information for artists.
I have included photos of the original, hand painted, Winsor & Newton color samples that are in the back of the 1898 version.
As old as this book is, it is amazing how relevent the information is for today’s generation of painters. Here’s just one example: “Instead of the old composition in arbitrary light and shade, the modern painter accepts the actual arrangement of light as the basis of his picture and spreads the values over the whole canvas. In this way the quality of “value” becomes the very foundation of the modern picture. For you cannot accept the ordinary or actual condition of light, as governing the light and shade of your picture, without extending the same scheme of relations over the whole canvas. Every most insignificant spot of light and shade and color, as well as the most significant, must keep its place, must hold its true relation to every other spot and to all the rest. Each value must keep its place according to the laws of fact, or it is out of touch with the whole.” This is an excerpt from the book which talks about the importance of values and value relationships.
Hawthorne on Painting (From students’ notes collected by Mrs. Charles W. Hawthorne) Originally published in 1938 by Pitman Publishing Corporation but reprinted by Dover Publications.
This is a favorite of mine when it comes to the subject of color. Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:
“The painter must show people more – more than they already see, and he must show them with so much human sympathy and understanding that they will recognize it as if they themselves had seen the beauty and the glory. Here is where the artist comes in.”
“The only way to learn to paint is by painting.”
“Every successful canvas has been painted from the point of view of a student, for a great painter is always a student.”
The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed. Originally published in 1917 by Seeley, Service and Co. It can be ordered through Dover Publications.
This book changed the way that I think about drawing and is the best one that I have read on the subject.
“Every beautiful work of art is a new creation, the result of particular circumstances in the life of the artist and the time of its production, that have never existed before and will never recur again.” – Harold Speed
Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Harold Speed. Originally published in 1924 by Chapman and Hall Ltd. and has since been reprinted by Dover Publications as well.
“Every obstacle must at first be put in the path of the aspiring artist. For it is only those whom you cannot discourage who are worth encouraging.” – Harold Speed
These sentences have stuck with me since my days as an art student in college.
The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. Originally published in 1923 by Lippincott and is available through Basic Books publishing.
“An artist must educate himself, he cannot be educated, he must test things out as they apply to himself: his life is one long investigation of things and his own reaction to them.” – Robert Henri
All of these books have been reprinted by Dover Publications and Basic Books publishing. I would highly recommend them to any art student who wants to further their artistic education. Not only have I learned a great deal about art by reading these, but I have also been inspired and encouraged as well. If you get a chance, take a look for yourself.
Take care and I wish you all the best in your studies!