Hello. My name is Julie and I am a bibliophile. I’ve used books to teach me how to use a camera, how to cook, how to sew, knit, diapar my babies, and buy a home. When I wanted to learn how to paint but lacked the funds to join an atelier, I turned to the books that master artists had written to teach me what I needed to know. I’d be writing for ages if I were to list them all, but here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order).

  • The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing, by Anthony Ryder - Ok, I know I said these were in no particular order, but if I had to give away the majority of the books on my shelves and were only allowed to keep a select few, this one would be first in the “keepsies” pile. Ryder’s book focuses mainly on figure drawing, but I’ve used his lessons to draw anything I can see. I owe him a huge amount of thanks. If one day I ever meet him, I’ll probably fall on the floor and forget to how speak. And when they revive me, I’ll really regret missing the opportunity to tell him how much his book meant to me.
  • Classical Painting Atelier by Juliette Aristides - This book is the one that convinced me that if I wanted to actually start liking what I was painting, I needed to put down the paint brushes and learn how to draw. The photos are first class; many step by step images to give you an idea of how a well trained artist is taught in an atelier
  • Portrait Painting Atelier by Suzanne Brooker and Domenic Cretara
  • Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis - It’s easy to see why a lot of artists have Loomis’ books on their must-read lists.
  • Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis
  • Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis
  • The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks by Michael Frank and Louise Sacco – I actually have both volumes of books that the museum has released so far. The descriptive text of each painting are nearly as amusing as the paintings themselves.
  • The Annotated Mona Lisa by Carol Strickland
  • One Thousand Years of Painting by Stefano Zuffi
  • Problem Solving For Oil Painters by Gregg Kreutz - Every time I go through this book I find something else that inspires me. This one is all about composition critique. One thing that a person might miss when they are learning on their own is a second, more critical eye for their work- Kreutz here was very successful at teaching his reader how to look at their own work with a more discerning eye. Another book for my keepsies pile.
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan - Technically this is a children’s book and has nothing whatsoever to do with art instruction. BUT. The illustrations inside are outstanding
  • Anatomy for the Artist by Jeno Barcsay –  I actually got this book in highschool and didn’t really open it much for a long time. (except to point and giggle at the drawings of naked people without skin. Simultaneously fascinating and icky at the same time! Win-win) I wish I had seriously considered this one sooner because, along with my figure drawing studies, this book has been a tremendous resource. There’s just something about knowing what you’re looking at that makes your mind conscious of those specific bumps and curves. I’ve seen other anatomy books in stores and libraries, and to be honest, I like this one the best.
  • Drawings of the Masters: French Drawings and also the Italien Drawings volume by Winslow Ames – I got both of these from an antique book store, and I wish I could find the other 10 books in the series. Wonderful images inside, I’ve used these two to study great art works and also to attempt my own copies.
  • Imaginative Realism by James Gurney
  • Color and Light by James Gurney - Highly recommended! This one stays on my nightstand because it’s pointless to keep on my bookshelf. I’ll just take it off again in a few days anyway. And while we’re talking about James Gurney- his blog is also a daily must-read.
  • Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures by John Wilmerding
  • Master Drawings from the Hermitage and Pushkin Museums
  • Landscape Painting by Mitchell Albala
  • Rembrandt’s Eyes by Simon Schama
  • Dynamic Figure Drawing by Burne Hogarth
  • Dynamic Drapery by Burne Hogarth
  • Oil Painting Secrets From a Master by Linda Cateura (author) and David Leffel (Contributer) - Cateura is a student of Leffel’s and, with his permission, she shares here her notes on his observations and critiques of paintings by his students. I wish the photos of the paintings in the book were of better quality, because the text is fantastic. On the other hand, the photos are enough to get the point across, which is really all that matters. Excellent resource, regardless.
  • Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting by Richard Schmid  

And here I’ll confess to what a huge goober I am for Norman Rockwell. I’ve got a growing collection of his books, some written by him, mostly about him. (see right) My favorite Rockwell book is his autobiography, My Adventures as an IllustratorRockwell on Rockwell by Norman Rockwell is also great (I have to imagine he got a big kick out of titling that one), as is Behind the Camera by Ron Schick. But to be honest, any Rockwell book is fabulous to me. I collect them like an 8 year old collects pokemon cards.

Do 8 year olds still collect pokemon cards? Someone ask an 8 year old and let me know.