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I’m always buying art technique books, always on the look out for some new gem of information hidden within their pages. Even if I get one really solid new tip from each book I consider them a success.
I’ve build up quite a collection by now, but there are just a few that I found the most useful, showing me things in a whole new way, teaching me something I never knew before. I highly recommend these books for any traditional painters, and some for any artists.
Watercolor Made Simple with Claudia Nice
This is a great starting place for any new artist who wants to work in watercolours or any traditional painting medium, but even as a more experienced artist I found this book very useful. It covers all the bases, all the standard tips and tricks (salting, dry brushing, wet in wet etc) plus a few new ones. I found her section on colour theory to be excellent, very practical and understandable.
How to make Watercolor Paint Itself by Nita Engle
This is a brilliant book, which shows an entirely different approach to painting with watercolors. I regularly use techniques from this book, and if it teaches you nothing else, it will help you be more comfortable and experimental with the paint, allowing its natural flow and behaviour work for you rather than against you.
The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert
This is an art book that applies to pretty much all schools and mediums of art, because it’s just about composition. As it says “How to Immediately Improve Your Work with the One Rule of Composition”. Here, I’m going to spoil the surprise- the rule is variation, to “Never have two intervals the same”. Of course, that’s the simplified version, and this book delves into how to use spacing, detail and texture, value, hue, and all other elements of a painting to improve your compositions by following this rule. A very interesting and helpful read on an area of art that a lot of artists overlook, or follow instinctively without ever really understanding.
Anatomy for Fantasy Artists by Glen Fabry
A fairly basic but well explained book on anatomy and figure drawing, but all within the fantasy genre- what more could you ask? Since basic anatomy and figure drawing books don’t deal with action poses and more heroic figure proportions as much, this is great for anyone in the fantasy art genre.
Paint Radiant Realism in Watercolour, Ink and Colored Pencil by Sueellen Ross
While I wasn’t particularly keen on the exact methods and style shown in this book, it did lead me to experiment more with other mixed media myself (using watercolour and acrylics together more) and improved my artwork in that way.
Art: A World History
I don’t actually have this book, but it’s the closest I could find on Amazon to the MUCH older book of a similar style I have. I think it’s important as an artist of any kind to have at least a surface knowledge of the eras, fads, and styles of art that have come before, and the artists who’ve made the biggest impacts on art and culture throughout history.
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