Saturday, July 14, 2012

Classic Art Instruction: The Crowd-sourced List

A week or two ago, I shared a list of my favorite classic art instruction books from Dover Publishing.

In the comments, I invited you to suggest the classic art instruction books (more than 50 years old) that you thought were particularly helpful.

Here's the list you suggested below. The links take you to Amazon pages where you can read more about each title.

On the left is a poll. Please vote for your favorite books. You can vote for more than one.

An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists by W. Ellenberger et al. 

Animation by Preston Blair  

Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Peck 

Bridgman’s Life Drawing by George Bridgman 

Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson 

Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne

Constructive Anatomy by George Bridgman  

Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis  

Creative Perspective for Artists and Illustrators by Ernest Watson  

Drawn to Life by Walt Stanchfield

Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth 

Famous Artist’s Course by various authors

Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis 

Fun With a Pencil by Andrew Loomis

Hawthorne on Painting by Charles Hawthorne

Hensche on Painting by John Robichaux

How I Make a Picture by Norman Rockwell

Light and Shade by Mrs. Mary P. Merrifield

Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure by Edouard Lanteri  

Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Harold Speed  

On Drawing Trees and Nature: A Classic Victorian Manual (Dover Art Instruction)

On the Art of Drawing by Robert Fawcett

Pencil Drawing by Ernest Watson

Pencil Pictures by Theodore Kautzky

Perspective by Rex Vicat Cole

Perspective Made Easy by Ernest Norling

Pictorial Composition by Henry Poore

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Successful Drawing by Andrew Loomis  

The Art of Animal Drawing by Ken Hultgren

The Artistic Anatomy of Trees by Rex Vicat Cole

The Classic Point of View by Kenyon Cox

The Human Figure by John Vanderpoel

The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides

The Painter in Oil by Daniel Parkhurst

The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed

The Practice of Tempera Painting by Daniel Thompson

Twilight of Painting by R. Ives Gammell




John VanHouten said...

We should add Color & Light to that list!

Susan said...

I agree. with Jbyrd--I'm wearing out my copy of Color and Light referring to this page and that--it's helped me. A lot.
And it's not on the list, but I found Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain helpful, years ago.

AnkatsArt said...

Now I voted for "An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists by W. Ellenberger et al." but my MOST favourite and helpful book is "Die Gestalt des Menschen" by Gottfried Bammes.
To bad that there is not an english version of it (I think that it is possibly the reason that nearly nobody knows it).

They show the steps from big shapes to detailed pictures and add anatomical knowledge to it.

Carlos Ranna said...

We NEED Alla Prima: Everything i know about painting, by Master Richard Schmid.

IMHO, a must read.

James Gurney said...

These are great suggestions, thanks, but I had to leave out Schmid and Betty Edwards because their books aren't more than 50 years old. I know it's a bit arbitrary, but I wanted to focus on the older tomes. Bammes unfortunately didn't come up in the preliminary round of nominations.

Scott said...

Its not in print, and may be, oh,, a tad racist, but Andrew Loomis'/ "Fun With a Pencil" is probably the best beginner's book to instill confidence and get peopel to draw for theri on amusement and motivation, later slipping in sound fundamentals. First published in 1937.

Dash Courageous said...

No Jack Hamm?

Anonymous said...

How I paint a picture by Jon Witcomb. Advance painting course from Famous Artist School. This course was an extension to the Famous Artist Course but was not popular. So they stop producing the course. Norman Rockwell praised him for his beautiful work. Some guy had it on ebay but he wouldn't sell it to me as the reserve was not met. AGH! Regards Henry Fong

Oona Leganovic said...

I'm also missing the Bammes on the list. I do read German, so I've got it easy, but I've always found even just his (tons of) illustrations much more concise and illuminating than any other anatomy book I've looked into, including Loomis and Bridgeman.

Oona Leganovic said...

Also, Robert Henri, 'The Art Spirit'. I sometimes feel like Hawthorne, Nicolaides and Henri are in a very lively dialogue, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing, thus forcing you to think for yourself, but always interesting and enlightening.

Ken said...

I like how loomis organizes drawing into "the five C's and the five P's" in his book
Successful Drawing. So i voted for that.

I find bridgeman, vanderpool and Speed hard to get into compared to loomis. Bridgemans drawings are quite abstract so it's hard to make out what is going on, as for vanderpool and speed i think thier writing style is little old fashioned.

What do bridgeman, vanderpool and Speed ofer that Loomis doesn't? I'd like to be convinced to give them another try!

Ken said...

By the way loomis seems to be winning the poll! 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

Iliya said...

Mr Gurney, would you know of any good (older or newer) books on the technique of watercolor painting? In particular, how to handle the medium?

Rich said...

Hard to join in here for me: too many of the suggested books (more than 50 years old) unknown to me.

But from a historical point of view I'm just wondering:
When was the first art instruction book ever published and printed?

James Gurney said...

Rich--There were several treatises on perspective and paint chemistry in the Renaissance, and there's Leonardo. In the early 1800s, romantic tourism encouraged a spate of books for artists, including those by Ruskin, Durand, and Harding.

Iliya, if you like controlled realism, I'd recommend Arthur Guptill's "Color in Sketching and Rendering."

Ken, I like Bridgman for solid, muscular form, and Vanderpoel for tonal thinking and grace. Though Loomis deserves his first place position.

Oona, thanks for mentioning Henri. His book is a fire-up.

Dash, I only left out Hamm because no one nominated him, but I recommend his books on figure and animal drawing--lots of practical tips.

Anon, I've got most of those FAC master courses in photocopy form, and I agree, they're wonderful because they allow each instructor to unfold his own approach.

Chris said...

For those mentioning Gottfried Bammes - is this the book now in English??? The reviewers suggest it maybe.

Dash Courageous said...

Ah, excellent. His book on landscape composition is a treasure.

Anonymous said...

How about re printing your book on sketching, I think it would be very popular today

Anonymous said...

Tone and Colour in Landscape Painting by F. Merlin Haines- out of print, but a treasure trove of information.

Unknown said...

you're missing: Figure Drawing Design and Invention by Michael Hampton and the greatest book ever: Die Gestalt des Menschen by Gottfried Bammes, which is the greatest life drawing book that has ever been printed.

JonInFrance said...

"you're missing: Figure Drawing Design and Invention by Michael Hampton"

I second that - for the second time!

James Gurney said...

Jon and Blake, thanks for mentioning those books, which are great. Please remember this list can't be totally comprehensive. Hampton's book isn't included because it's too recent (I'm looking for classic books older than 50 years), and I don't believe Bammes was nominated by the commentators on the first round. We can do other lists in the future.

Steph said...

Walt Stanchfield is the man when it comes to essence and storytelling in figure drawing!!

JonInFrance said...

Yeah, I know it can't be in the list, Jim, I just wanted to say Hampton is great - I mean, I've ordered the Bammes seeing as people above say it's worth it.

I've looked up some in the list on Amazon - the Fawcett looks good - the problem is the list is long and I have the feeling many of the books are somewhat unfamiliar - we're all voting for Loomis because not only is it good, but his books are the ones we all know!

Rachel M. Brenner-Manis said...

Could we make a contemporary list...I own none of these, except the ebook versions of Loomis and Bridgeman.
I'm deprived of more art books.

Tim Schneider said...

In many of the books I have read on classical technique, I have come across conflicting instructions.

1) the idea of making a detailed cartoon which is transferred onto the canvas and sealed beneath a layer of varnish or glaze

2) the idea that painting should be begun with the biggest brushes possible, blocking in large areas first, and avoiding detail & small brushes until the very end

I have had a hard time in reconciling these two ideas, because if you have a detailed sketch, but then block in the big shapes over it, you lose all of the drawing you had done in preparation.

Of course, we can always take a photo of the cartoon before we paint over it (as I have often done), but it still means that we have to re-do everything besides those major forms.

...or is that the whole point? to do your "homework" and lay things out in the sketch, and then allow the paint to find its own way as you layer it on?

Your opinion will be most welsome

James Gurney said...

Tim, good questions. A couple thoughts:
1. You can do the rough block-in just transparently enough to be able to see the drawing underneath. That's one of the reasons guys like Cornwell reinforced the drawing in India ink.
2. It's OK to obliterate parts of the drawing, especially if you can keep a separate copy. You can find them again.
3. The "cartoon" doesn't have to be too laborious. It's a map, not a rendering. It's the placement and major shapes that matter. You can find the small details in the paint.
4. Plenty of painters do all their construction in the paint and never do a detailed prelim drawing. It can work that way, too. That's how I do all my plein air landscape painting.