I’ve added quite a few art instruction and coffee table artist books to my library since 2017 (the year I wrote about my favorite art books). Collecting books seems to be in an artist’s blood – I’m imagining we bleed paint and ink.
Next time you’re at an art event or meet an artist for the first time try this out:
You – “Oh, you’re an artist, I bet you collect books.”
The artist – “Why yes I do, how did you know?”
You – “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of a psychic…”
Since I’ve already let on that I have an obsession, why don’t I share with you some more exceptional artist books you might enjoy as well.
Just like the previous ‘Book’ blog, I’ll organize it into two categories: Art Instruction Books and Eye Candy (coffee table artist books)!
Art Instruction Books:
Drawing Dynamic Hands by Burne Hogarth – This is ‘hands down’ one of the best books you’ll find that teaches how to draw hands! Even if you’re not a figure painter, Hogarth’s book will help you learn how to see and draw any subject dramatically.
Finding this book was bittersweet. During Gallery Night at the Plein Air Convention in Santa Fe, Manitou Galleries was selling art books from Harley Brown’s estate. So, while I love the book, it was a sad reminder of the loss of one of the artists I greatly admired.
Update: One of our reader’s comments caused me to do some more digging and I found this from Harley: “Am I eccentric? Well, I’ve said this before but it does bear repeating. I owned 3,000 books that I recently let go of. How many of them did I read? Two. And the two that I read did not include any of the four books I authored. Yes, I wrote them, sent in the manuscripts and images, and never read the books after they were published. There we are, Harley.”
So the selling of his books was by him and not due to a typical estate sale.
I’m sure he’s greatly relieved to discover he has not passed away – so am I!
Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light and Color – by Kevin Macpherson. Kevin is one of the most generous teachers and accomplished painters in the country. I loved his workshop at the Plein Air Convention and this book helps refresh my memory about some of the excellent concepts he discussed.
Something to keep in mind is that he is not a realist. His painting style is loose and expressive. His insights, however, are spot on – great information for any style of painting.
Fine Art Tips by Lori McNee – Painting Techniques & Professional Advice? I’m a fan of books like this because we often get from each artist what they consider to be essential. Even one idea we haven’t considered before can help us leap forward in our painting journey. Lori managed to get many of the top artists in the business to share their knowledge.
60 Minutes to Better Painting by Craig Nelson – Improve Your Skills in Oils and Acrylic. Craig Nelson has helped a lot of painters over the years. This book is not really about how to make beautiful gallery-ready paintings though.
The strength of this book is its emphasis on doing quick studies from life often and consistently throughout our careers. Craig shares some excellent insights into the growth that comes from doing lots and lots of smaller studies. They prepare us for the larger more refined pieces.
Make More Money Selling Your Art – Proven Techniques for Turning Your Passion into Profit by Eric Rhoads. Okay, so Eric’s book won’t teach you how to be a better artist. But he does do a fantastic job of laying out how to think about the road to making a living as an artist.
For the most part, I left the selling of my art up to the incredible galleries I’ve been a part of for the last 30 years. I was pretty shy and reluctant to ‘toot my own horn’ and promote my art. I wish a book like Eric’s had been available when I was starting out.
Art is such a personal and soul-searching kind of pursuit that thinking about selling seems too much like an intrusion. What we need to realize is that people want to buy our artwork. They want beautiful things to brighten their homes and hearts.
Eric has done a wonderful service for all of us by reminding us that selling art is a worthy and necessary part of painting for a living. Like he says “we don’t have to be used car salesmen” to successfully market our artwork.
The artists we know and admire today are at the top of our minds because they are not only amazing artists, they are/were typically amazing promoters and marketers. Some of those include Richard Schmid, Clark Hulings, Howard Terpning, Edgar Payne, John Singer Sargent, Daniel Gerhartz, James Reynolds, Oleg Stravowsky, Bob Kuhn, Daniel Sprick, Jeremy Lipking, and many others.
Eye Candy Art Books – Beautiful Images to Drool Over
Edgar Payne The Scenic Journey – what a treasure this one is! If you are in any way a fan of Edgar Payne’s art you don’t want to miss this book because it is filled with inspiring images.
William Cather Hook A Retrospective by Susan Hallston McGarry. Susan brought all her years of being an editor for Southwest Art Magazine into play. This book is a work of art itself.
William Hook is a master at color and composition. I’m consistently in awe at how he turns the most unusual views into inspiring paintings. This is one of my favorite books.
Hook paints in acrylics, not oils – for those who might wonder.
Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth – A Conversation with Andrew Wyeth by Thomas Hoving. I’m a fan of all three of the Wyeths’ artwork. N.C., Jamie and Andrew were and are a legacy of talent.
I have several books on Andrew Wyeth. This book is the best because Andrew opens up so much about his process and thoughts. If you can find a copy get it – you won’t be disappointed.
Alan Bean – Painting Apollo – First Artist on Another World. I’m a bit jealous. Alan Bean somehow mastered two completely separate careers: first as one of the few astronauts to walk on the moon and then as an incredible oil painter.
His paintings are astounding – full of texture and subtle color. It’s simply crazy how good he became as an artist. I was sad to learn that he passed away in May of 2018 – we lost one of the great ones.
Wild Harvest – the Animal Art of Bob Kuhn. I’ve not made any secret of my admiration for Bob Kuhn’s paintings. He was one of the best examples of the unlimited potential of acrylic paints. He made his acrylic paintings look absolutely rich in color and filled them with fascinating textural qualities.
This book is chock-full of Bob Kuhn’s beautiful wildlife paintings.
Not Far from Home – the Paintings of Daniel F Gerhartz. Dan’s book is stunning from the front cover to the final page. He really went all out to fill his book with sensational images.
Dan Gerhartz is simply a fantastic artist who has mastered painting from life! Get his book – it is an inspiration to keep reaching higher.
Traildust – Cowboys, Cattle and Country – the Art of James Reynolds by Don Hedgpeth. I realized recently that a big part of what appeals to me in Reynold’s oil paintings is seeing the influence of Carl Rungius.
James Reynolds created masterful western paintings. But, more than the subject matter, he focused on the color and drama that make oil paintings so appealing.
Reynolds really knew how to use warm and cool color harmonies and he was also a master at deliberate brushwork. This book shows that mastery beautifully!
Help! The internet has opened up so many opportunities to purchase art books that used to be impossible to find. It’s also made it way too easy for book junkies like me to overdo it – I keep needing more and more bookshelves.
I’m grateful so many successful artists have shared their knowledge and art through books. Those books are a constant source of inspiration and creative jump-starting when I need a boost.
Let me know what books you repeatedly turn to for guidance or motivation.
Love art? Get started with Master Oil Painting for free.
Enter your email address below to access our absolutely free video library.