Monday, 7 November 2011

10 of my favourite books

Today I thought I'd share some details of my favourite painting/print making books in the hope that you will share with me some of yours. Now the colder, darker and wetter months are well on their way there's nothing better than to curl up with a good art book to read up on skills, methods, techniques and to stay inspired. The following ten are some of my favourites, (although there are many more.... I'm a bookaholic) the ones that I keep returning to. I've included the ISBN numbers of the editions that I have. Should you want to look them up at your bookstore of choice keep in mind that there may be newer editions of some of them. I believe only a couple are out of print. In no particular order....

Raw Colour with Pastels by Mark Leach ISBN 9780713489996 (hardback)
Sadly this artist is no longer with us but he has left us with stunning artwork and this marvelous book about his art, thoughts and techniques. The book has a friendly and accessible feel to it much as I imagine his character was. I love his use of colour and his ability to distill the landscape to it's essence.  Click here to stop by his website where there are further links, one of which is a picasa album of his work which is well worth a visit.

Sketchbooks 2003-2004 Kurt Jackson ISBN 9781850221906 (paperback)
There's nothing I like more than a rootle through other peoples sketchbooks, it's always interesting to see where they get their ideas and inspiration from. Kurt Jackson is a favourite artist of mine, his work can be seen here . This book is a selection of sketchbook pages from 25 sketchbooks through a year from one spring to the next. ( I know - how prolific is that!) It is filled with gestural pencil studies as well as mixed media and watercolours. I really like the notes that he makes in his sketches that become an integral piece of his more finished work.

Realistic Abstracts by Kees van Aalst ISBN 9781844485604 (paperback)
This is a book I have returned to a few times over the last year as I explore some of the concepts discussed in it. A full review that I wrote on it in January can be found here .

Plants and Places by Angie Lewin ISBN 9781858945361 (hardback)
This book is a real feast for the eyes if like me you love print making. Completed works, design development drawings, sketches - it has it all. A link to her website is here . One of the things that I like most about Lewin's work is her palette, the sometimes unusual combinations that she uses. At the back of the book is a list of some of her favourite books which I was interested to find, especially as we share some common ground in books and artists that we admire, for example Eric Ravilious and Robert Gillmor.

Cutting Away by Robert Gillmor ISBN 1904078141 (hardback)
A beautifully presented overview of this popular lino cutters work. I first became aware of his prints when I spotted some greetings cards produced by Art Angels a few years or so ago. I didn't know anything more about his work and then I saw this book in a catalogue and ordered it on a whim. To me it was more than worth the gamble as it really is a beautiful book filled with reproductions of his beautiful natural history, mostly birds, lino prints. Whilst writing this post and looking unsuccessfully for a website I have come across a retrospective exhibition that continues until 29th April 2012 here in Reading. A few of  the gorgeous images are on this page.

The Watercolours of John Singer Sargent by Carl Little ISBN 0520219708
Sargent is one of my favourite artists for his watercolours alone. His lightness of touch, expressiveness and the way he captured the colour of light I find uplifting. There seems to me a real sense of the joy of painting in his watercolours, they speak to me of the immense fun he had painting them. I was lucky enough to see the exhibition Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy last year, an exhibition that I enjoyed immensely. At the end of the show was a couple of his Venice watercolours that I spent nearly as much time studying as all of the rest of the exhibition. If I could get just a smidgen of his skill in watercolour I would be immensely happy.

Vibrant Watercolours by Shirley Trevena ISBN 0007225237 (hardback)
A full review of this book that I wrote some time ago is here this is a fantastic book for when the creative block hits. It's a well trusted remedy that I keep on hand to be boosted on, propelled by Shirley's energising enthusiasm.

Composition Understanding Line Notan and color by Arthur Wesley Dow ISBN 9780486460079 (paperback)
A classic and a firm favourite of mine. On days lacking in inspiration I often return to this book to pick where I've left off on exercises to improve composition. I think this is one of the many areas I will spend a lifetime trying to improve. I confess to begin with I stumbled a little on the older style of language but once past that this book really is one of the best.

Rowland Hilder Painter of the English Landscape by John Lewis ISBN 1851490507 (hardback)
A gem that I picked up in a charity shop over the summer for a couple of pounds. There is so much about this artists work that I like, most especially the way he captured light. There are lots of illustrations, quite a few that are black and white, which is an asset in the case of this book as it shows off the strong tonal patterns used in Hilder's work. Really meaty darks in contrast to the brightest of bright lights - very exciting, whilst still portraying the calm tranquility and timelessness of the landscape.

Inspired by Light by Ken Howard ISBN 0715308416 (hardback)
This book is packed with illustrations of his sketches, watercolours and oils. The artist shares his thoughts and ideas and how he sees painting as, 'revelation, communication and celebration..' a wonderful place to come to painting from. If someone mentions the term 'contre jour' Ken Howard is the artist who immediately springs to mind, for me he is the master of it.

I know I said this was going to be 10 of my favourite books but I just couldn't leave this one out so lets make it 11...

Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson ISBN 9780486229270 (paperback)
Another very popular classic that I heard about on Loriann's blog some time back. Where had I been not to have heard of this one before? (-maybe it's better known in the US?) In the last twelve months that I've had a copy of this I have read it in full maybe three or four times and have dipped into it countless times. My copy is rarely on the bookshelf, I prefer it to be either on the bedside table or in the studio. There is a lot of information to absorb, it covers a lot of ground and I only wish I'd heard of it sooner. Chapters can be read here on google books, after reading them here myself first I then had to order my own copy as I wanted to read the missing ones.

The crux of this post is that I have a couple of book vouchers to spend and whilst I have a never ending list of books that I 'need' to get (when does want become need anyway? :o) ) I was just wondering what your favourites are and what you would recommend?


Unknown said...

Hi Lisa. Ken Howards 'Inspired by light' is in my collection too. His contre jour work is amazing isn't it? I love Roland Hilder's work but only have a general watercolour book he contributed to.
Ones I would recommend
'The essence of watercolour' by Hazel Soan,
'Trevor Chamberlain - England and beyond' by Steve Hall and Barry Miles
'Complete guide to watercolor painting' by Edgar Whitney.

Bruce Sherman said...

Hi there Lisa!... A wonderful post and idea for sharing! I will make your topic a post on my site as well in the very near future.

Strange... how even book tastes overlap... Carlson... Howard... Hilder... Chamberland... Sargent... to name a few. But maybe not... these names are universally known as icons in their painting processes and mediums... for the motivated learner... who prefers to learn alone!

Thanks... from
another "bookaholic"... for sharing this post... a great idea!

Good Painting... and reading!
Warmest regards,

Caroline Simmill said...

Hello Lisa, I have Carlson's landscape book, Rowland Hilder three of those and I was looking at them yesterday. Also Kurt Jackson I know through viewing the Lemon tree gallery website over the years. He asks very high prices for his work and I believe his London gallery closed last year. I find his work very inspirational, the fact he works out on location and captures the everyday simplicity of the shoreline and the sea. I didn't know he had a book out I will look into that for the future. Sargent has some lovely work too. I am not familar with the others so will look into those now you have mentioned them. Great post, thanks you!

vivien said...

an interesting list - I also have the Kurt Jackson and the Shirley Trevena amongst my favourites and I think I've got that Roland Hilder on the shelf.

There are a couple there like the Singer Sargent that may go on my wish list :>)

When I have time I'll find my top books too

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Michael thank you. I will look out for these books. I've got a Trevor Chamberlain one although I can't remember the title... I've heard of Whitney but I don't know his work so I shall google him and find out.

I love Ken Howard's work especially the Venetian and Cornwall paintings.

Morning Bruce, I can't wait to see your list of favourite books, it will I'm sure be an interesting post. I had such a hard time narrowing the list down and I'm sure had I written the post next week it would've been entirely different. There are sooo many great books around.

Hi Caroline, There are a few Kurt Jackson books now and all the lovely catalogues from the Lemon Street Gallery. I always by them when I'm at the Cornish Gallery, somehow we seemed to manage to holiday there when they had his exhibitions on. I'd love to wake up to one of his pieces every day but his prices are so high it's a day dream for me. Great new photo by the way.

Hi Vivien, I really would reccommend the Sargent. Such beautiful strokes and markmaking and the colours are so clean and refreshing. I'll look forward to reading your list.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what you purchase, Lisa!!

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Maggie, I'm having real problems deciding... there are just too many fantastic books... decisions