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I don't find this book as helpful as the description is saying. I was honestly expecting something else. I am new in the art of painting, but I can say there are so much more artistic techniques out there that are not covered by this book. I really think I wasted my money on this book unfortunately.
This book was a huge disappointment and certainly does not live up to its grandiose title. As a teaching book it covers the basics of drawing and colour mixing quite well and is a useful, if not very comprehensive, introduction to oils for the complete beginner. However, no section of the book goes into any great detail and it is limited in scope,with only a few guided lessons and topics, so its claim to be suitable for experienced artist is debatable. However, my biggest cricism is the quality of the paintings themselves which are flat, unimaginative and hackneyed - stuck somewhere in the 1950s. It would be hard to imagine them in a professional exhibition today. I would not commend this book to painters at any level - there are much better courses available.
I was disappointed. The photos of the works inside were just not my type and therefore were not inspiring to me. I guess everything is relative so this one just didn't work for me. It would be better to look inside and see before buying books of this nature. It did provide a lot of basic information though.
The book was much too basic for me. It wasn't that I didn't like it, it was that I knew most of the material in it. It will be a fine book for beginners, but not for me at this point. Sorry, my fault for choosing to buy it, I'll pass it on to someone who can really use it. Thanks.
I want to attempt a comparative review of six instructional books for the beginning painter, which I will eventually rank. Before I go into this, here are a few words about where I'm coming from. Needless to say, if your background and expectations are different from mine, you may well arrive at a completely different evaluation of these books.
I am relatively new to painting, but had some drawing skills already. I was looking for a book that starts at the very beginning (what supplies to buy etc.) and then introduces me to a range of techniques for painting in realistic style. More specifically, I would like to see the following in my ideal book:
(a) Reasonably specific step-by-step instructions that don't leave me guessing how the author got from A to B; at the same time, I would like to be treated as an adult and have clear explanations of why I'm doing what I'm doing throughout; (b) exposure to a variety of techniques such as painting in layers, alla prima; (c) demonstration artwork in realistic style that inspires me to learn what is needed to get there.
One more general remark: four of the books I'm reviewing here work with oils and two with acrylics, please keep this in mind if you have already decided on what your favorite paint is. I'll note this below. (I used both oils and acrylics at an early stage and would actually recommend this approach.)
(1) Still Life Painting Atelier: An Introduction to Oil Painting (oil): For me, this is head and shoulders above the rest. It succeeds in all three criteria (perhaps the author's artwork is not the most stunning I've ever seen). I'll give it a clear A.
(2) Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner (acrylics): Pretty good in my opinion, with many useful little tips in it, though sometimes it could be a bit more specific (rather than "work on the shapes, refine the colors") and it wasn't always clear to me why the author made the choices she made (why glaze here, use opaque color there?). I'll call it a B+.
(3) Painting in Acrylics: The Indispensable Guide (acrylics): This is actually an excellent book, just a bit different from what I described above. It works great as a reference book (and as a coffee table book, fantastic artwork in it). I won't grade this one.
(4) Lessons in Classical Painting: Essential Techniques from Inside the Atelier (oil): A pleasure to read and look at, and similar in approach to Friel's book actually in the instructional parts, but it has a rather different feel to it, much chattier and philosophical and light on the actual hands-on instruction. That's a B for me.
(5) Oil Painting Secrets From a Master (oil): Sorry, but advice such as (random example, the book is full of this) "it's not how to paint what you see, but how to see what you paint" doesn't do it for me. Also, much of Leffel's work (the "master" from the title of the book) is too loosely painted for my taste. I'll give it a C-.
(6) The Oil Painting Course You've Always Wanted: Guided Lessons for Beginners and Experienced Artists (this book, oil): This seems to be a popular book, but I honestly can't understand why. The instructions are unmotivated and too vague, and the author is an abstract painter whose attempts at realistic demonstration painting in the book are unconvincing (especially the portraits). Some useful information, for example on color mixing, but the book just didn't work for me at all as a course. I'll give it a D.
By the way, the drawmixpaint videos on youtube are another wonderful resource, in my opinion.