Lots of people love art books, and if you’re reading this you probably do too. I have a very nice collection, although far from complete. Below are ten favorites in my collection that I refer to time and time again for inspiration, education & motivation. While this is certainly not Oprah’s book club or a complete list of art books, these are all worthy of a read…
10 Great Art Books in no Particular Order
- A Gallery of Paintings by Clark Hulings – First published in 1986, 155 color plates and many black and white images as well. Each painting has either a personal story or painting tip to go with it. As art books go, I would consider this one more inspirational and motivational than instructional. It’s inspirational because of the exceptional paintings, with tips thrown in here and there within the overall text. There is a revised 20th Anniversary edition of this book available on the official Clark Hulings website. I like this book so much I bought a second one just in case something happened to the first. For a more complete article on Clark Hulings go here.
- ALLA PRIMA (Everything I Know About Painting) by Richard Schmid – 204 pages with 118 color plate, first published in 1998. This book is a trifecta, with more than enough education, motivation and inspiration for any painter. I purchased this book without even knowing what “Alla Prima” meant. I bought it because Richard Schmid is a great painter and I have a hunger for knowledge and art books. Ten chapters plus the intro packed with so much painting information that I honestly felt smarter just by holding the book, and completely inadequate upon first reading.
- Harley Brown’s eternal truths for every artist by Harley Brown & Lewis Barrett Lehrman – A fantastic, easy to read treasure of a book. As art books go, this one is not a heavy how to book, but more of a day-to-day reference playbook in the studio before and during each painting. Great everyday tips on what and what not to do explained in an honest, smart and easy to read manner. 144 pages, lots of color plates and hard to find for its original cover price – $29.99.
- The Art Spirit – Robert Henri (Compiled by Margery A. Ryerson) – The one and only. I have had my copy for over 30 years (strange, I’m only 29). Without a single painting or photo this has to be one of the greatest art books ever. “The Art Spirit” is a really a collection of notes, speeches, articles and letters by Henri on Art, painting and life. A must. Go here to learn more on Robert Henri and the Art Spirit. You can pick up your own copy here.
- The Artist’s Complete guide to Drawing The Head by William L. Maughan – This book is exactly what the title states. From methods and materials straight on through principles of chiaroscuro and then color. Form, lighting, background, perspective, gesture, and anatomy. Very complete. If you want to get better at drawing the head, this book could really help you out. Plenty of illustration integrated within 160 pages.
Art Books are Soul Food
A very smart and successful man told me a long time ago that “the person you will be five years from now depends upon two things. The books you read and the people you associate with.” I believed it then and I believe it now. If you can’t associate with great artists in person, then the art books become indispensable. While some artists are better teachers than others, in most cases their art books can give you a little or a lot of in site into their methods, and attitudes that you would not get otherwise.
Thanks for reading! Please drop me a line if you would like to recommend a great book. My collection is far from complete.
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