Saturday, 18 August 2012

My favourite painting books

I've just finished Ken Howard's autobiography "Light and Dark" and found it very inspiring (and actually very well written). A great insight into the life of a talented and successful painter with some meaningful thoughts about the Art of painting, the world of Art and about life generally. 

Ken Howard - Autobiography Light and Dark

This gave me the idea to write a post about all my favourite art books, the ones I have in turn on my bedside table; the ones that have the page corners folded for future reference and that are often stained with some paint here and there because they live in the studio and are an eternal source of inspiration. Here is below a (small) selection from my collection: 

First a few painting guides books, great for problem solving:

Alla Prima by Al Gury

Capturing the moment in oils by David Curtis

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

Oil painting Pure and Simple by Ron Ranson and Trevor Chamberlain

Oil Painting Secrets from a Master by Linda Cateura

And here are my favourite artists books and catalogues: 

Edward Seago - The Landscape Art by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and James W. Reid 

Edward Seago - The Vintage Years by Ron Ranson

Edward Seago by Ron Ranson

Isaak Levitan - Lyrical Landscape by Averil King

Ken Howard - A personal view Inspired by light

Nicolae Grigorescu - Itinéraire d'un peintre romain

Peter Brown - Bath Between the Snows

Peter Brown - Brown's Oil Sketches

Sickert in Venice by Robert Upstone

The Art of Edward Wesson by Ron Ranson

Tom Coates' Exhibition catalogue  - Messum's 2011

The Glasgow Boys by Roger Billcliffe

By looking at this, I realise how "english" my selection is! I might be belgian but I've definitely  embraced the Art of my adoptive country! 

If you have any other books you would recommend feel free to let me know...


  1. This sort of post is guaranteed to empty my pockets. I have some of these and now feel the urge to acquire the rest. I agree with you about the first it's a very good read.

  2. Most of the I know a few of them I have but many thanks for this posting! I miss how ever Alla prima by Richard schmid, can't believe you didn't mentioned that one

  3. I only have four of these! My goodness, will have to take a look at some of the others! I also love the work of Tom Coates. What a good idea for a blog post, I'd like to do that one day!

  4. Ditto Rene's comment about Alla Prima, I waited, it seemed forever, for the book on Isaak Levitan to come into reprint, it is one of my favourites. Have you seen Rex Vicat Cole's "The Artistic Anatomy of Trees?" Great stuff for getting your "seeing" of trees working.

  5. Hi Valerie.
    Thank you for showing your favourite Art books. I have half of your choices. Now I`m going to tell you my all time favourit-CRAWSHORE PAINTS CONSTABLE COUNTRY. By Alwyn Crawshore. He has
    always been my favourite Artist for explaining everything. I am halfway through Ken Howards LIGHT AND DARK. Fantastic. All the best Valerie.

  6. I thought I'd been burgled when I looked at this post Valerie! Actually I've only got 10 of these, but around 100 others! David Curtis and Pete Brown are my two top gurus in our era - I spend hours and hours looking at their one-man's....

  7. Thanks all for the comments. I certainly will add those suggestions to my shopping list! Peter - funny we share the same collection. I have many more catalogues from Peter Brown but didn't want to list them all as it would look a bit too obsessive;) Not many from Curtis though. I don't have 100 books like you! Please do share the rest of your list with me! I'm curious!

    1. I have 7 Curtis catalogues, 5 of his books, 4 Pete Brown's catalogues and 1 book. My books are all under a tarpaulin at the moment with a load of building work going on around me - I'm living, working and eating in the studio at the moment. When I get a chance I'll email you my comprehensive list - might take a while! If you're a fan of David Curtis's, and who isn't if you're a painter(?), he's got his big one-man on at Richard Hagen's in Broadway on Sat Nov 3rd, the same day as my own at John Noott's, 200 yards away - you should go and have a look, then have a look at mine too and say hello! How could you not come - two painting giants....well, one....and me!

    2. Thanks Peter! Yes please do email me your favourite books list one day. It's always great to discover new gems. Thanks for the show tip about the "two paintings masters" shows. I'll remember it if I'm around! :-)

  8. Good list Valerie! Anything by Bernard Dunstan is well worth reading. They are all out of print but can still be found on Amazon and eBay. I have collected all of his books and learned a lot from them. I can't list all my favourites here but I do have a list of favourite fine art books on my blog pages - clicking on my name above will take you straight there ;-)

  9. Wow that book from Seago is expensive!

    Edward Seago: The Landscape Art.

    Is it still worth it Valérie, why are you so fond of this book?

    1. I know René! It is a good book but not better than the Ron Ranson's ones so it is only if you want "more Seago" after the Ron Ranson's books. It has some great paintings I never seen before but I must admit I haven't read the text yet...

  10. A few suggestions,
    Hidden Treasures: Russian and Soviet Impressionism lots of excellent work by people you never heard of
    In Another Light Danish Painting in the Nineteenth Century
    Beyond Immpressionism The Nautralist Impulse
    as far as instruction,
    Composing Your Paintings and Starting to Paint Still Life
    by Bernard Dunstan are fantastic, informative and easy to read
    How I Paint, Secrets of a Sunday Painter is great!!
    Oil Painting for the Serious Beginner very good
    lots more of course, the art section of my library is up to 260 volumes but these are gems seldom referred to and I think you would like, oogh and for drawing Jack Hamm's Drawing Scenery and Drawing the Head and Figure are wonderful, easy enough for the earliest beginner/child but not dumbed down at all good enough for any artist shelf

  11. Thanks Roy and Steve for sharing your precious collection! I can't wait to get my hands on those!!

  12. What a classic post- I have 10 of the above, the one I first discovered on the list was Trevor's. Wickid books- still need to get Kens book.

    1. you should know that Trevor/Ranson did another one as well, ... Oils!

    2. Man do they make those word verification hard!!

    3. So many books... so little time! :-)

    4. René - I agree with you those word verification are getting harder and harder, it's ridiculous. I might try to remove them from my settings and see whether I do get lots of spams or not...

    5. You should Valérie, it does atract some spammers but then putting it on again will scare them away for some time.

      So many book, ... so little time?
      If that's the only problem I am gladly willing to read them for you and give you a short review.

  13. I really like the content of your post. . thanks a lot for showing to me.. . it was a terrific experience. . .congratz...
    wellhead compression

  14. Great selection Valerie. Did not know about Bath Between Snows. Levitan one of my favs from the Russian 'Wanderers'. I also like The Painterly Approach by Bob Rohm. Tim