Finding Art Books

Armand Cabrera
(Illustrations for this article by Andrew Loomis)

I have been asked about how to go about finding art books that are out of print or hard to find. I don’t really think there is a trick to it. You just need perseverance. Besides haunting used bookstores and library sales, I regularly use sites like,, and and allow you to create want lists. These lists are good for a year and will notify you when a book you want shows up on the site at the price you want.

Hamilton is great for remaindered books. They have a great art section and I don’t think I’ve paid full price for any how-to art book for years now, the exception being small press publishers that don’t remainder their stock.

Another site I use all the time is Bookfinder is a Meta site, so if you look for a book there, it will list all the places that have it available with the price. It is great when you want to get a feel for what a book is worth.

I will usually watch a book for 6 months before I buy it, sometimes even longer. Books have cycles and sometimes the buzz on a book will drive its price up beyond its value. When this happens I just wait it out and buy when the price falls into line with its actual worth.

Used book stores seem to be an unfortunate casualty of the digital age. Most of the used books stores have disappeared and towns that had five or six stores twenty years ago might have one today. Digital media is all well and good but nothing replaces a good book, especially an art book.

As a side note James Gurney has a new book out called Imaginative Realism, 224 pages and 400 full color illustrations for a great price of 24.99.
Not only is James an award winning illustrator and creator of the Dinotopia book series, he is also a successful gallery artist. You can order directly from James at the Dinotopia website Store
(Cover by James Gurney)

Art Book Buying Update

Armand Cabrera

This year has some great titles for artists. Here are a few of my favorites. These books are available from Amazon for order or pre-order.

Jim Gurney
I was lucky enough to be asked by Jim to read an advance copy. Whether you are an illustrator or gallery artist this book is a must have if you want to understand modern color and light theory. This is not a how to book but there are plenty of helpful observations and tips for artists.

Syd Mead
This is the latest offering from the grand master of concept art. His last book Sentury, was ten years ago.
Walt Reed
The first monograph on Dunn in 40 years with lots of color plates and included will be a reprint of his ‘An Evening in the Classroom’
Richard Ormond
These are the best books out on Sargent and well worth the expense. For some reason volume six was released last year after volume four.
Donald Hedgpeth
A new monograph on Lougheed who was, in my opinion, one of the best wildlife and plein air painters there was.

Book Review: Color and Light by James Gurney

Review by Armand Cabrera

James Gurney hits it out of the park again with his new art instruction book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter. Following the success of his other art instruction book Imaginative Realism, which was released last year, Gurney’s new book Color and Light is filled with everything you will want to know about these two important subjects, written in a clear and concise style. This is not a step by step how to book per se but there are plenty of explanations describing the effects of color and light and how to use them in your paintings. The images accompanying the text are made up of James Gurneys own plein air paintings, figure studies and illustrations for his professional assignments. Over 300 color Illustrations and diagrams.



Beautifully printed and designed, Color and Light is sure to be considered the text on the subject for years to come. Gurney writes about this subject as a successful, professional artist. This is not someone who doesn’t make their living as a painter or some scientist who only observes but offers no practical application for his information. The paintings by Gurney are a feast for the eyes, his talent is showcased well here and you see the depth and breadth of his formidable abilities as an artist. He has included images of city scenes, portraits, landscapes, illustrations for National Geographic, magazine articles, science fiction and fantasy book covers and his own series of Dinotopia books. The sheer amount of work is amazing and you begin to understand that here is someone who loves the process of making art.


Many people know Gurney as one of the premier illustrators in the world and the author of the Dinotopia books, but for those who don’t follow his excellent blog gurneyjourney, they may be surprised to find he has always been an avid plein air painter as well. His landscapes are just as accomplished as any of his illustrations. Many of these small outdoor landscapes are showcased in this book and make up a third of the color illustrations. This is important because it is his work painted outdoors from life that infuse his real and imagined scenes with a sense of light.




Some books are considered classics in the field of art instruction; Harold Speed’s The Practice and Science of Drawing, John F Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting, Andrew Loomis’ Figure Drawing for all its Worth and Creative Illustration, Edgar Payne’s The Composition of Outdoor Painting, and Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima. Jim Gurney’s Color and Light is one of these books. There is no excuse for you not to buy this book, it is very reasonably priced and the wealth of information in it will help anyone interested in representational art. Whether you are a seasoned professional or Sunday hobbyist, this is the book for you.


You can order Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter from the Dinotopia website where James will sign copies if requested

The book is also available from all the usual book retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Borders

For more information on James Gurney visit his websites

Review: The Dead Rider Crown of Souls written and illustrated by Kev Ferrara

By Armand Cabrera

As an artist, I’m interested in process, for me it is where the art is in any creative endeavor. In my experience great artists fall in love with the process of creation and do all of the hard work it takes to make something worthwhile.

My interests in art are not just in traditional painting, I love the various forms of expression people use to tell stories including comics.

Kev Ferrara has created a 112 page graphic novel called The Dead Rider Crown of Souls.   At first glance the story will remind you of the old EC Comics or the Warren Publications of Eerie and Creepy. It is well written and beautifully illustrated by Kev.  It’s obvious from a look at his work Kev cares about process and he has put his heart and soul into this project and for that reason it is one of the most satisfying graphic novels I’ve read in a long time. 

The design and execution of the book is of the highest quality. Everything is thought out and made to enhance the storytelling to keep the reader immersed in the tale.  Like I’ve said it shares a lot in common with early comic greats like Al Williamson, Bernie Wrightson, Angelo Torres, Wally Wood but also their influences from Pyle and Brandywine traditions to Edwin Austin Abbey and Joseph Clement Coll. Kev is not copying those artists though, he is matching the quality of their creations with his own artistic style.

I wrote to Kev and asked if he could send images of some of his process so I could share it here and he was gracious enough to provide an example that show his approach and explain what he does to complete a page.

He says he likes to start with a sketch usually in ballpoint pen or a tech pen but sometimes in pencil. The point of these small sketches is to capture the action/feeling/emotion and get near the drawing stage. 

These sketches are almost always smaller than they will be in the finished drawing. When he is satisfied with this he blows them up in the computer creates an arrangement of the sketches so they read well and explain the action of the scene. 

Then he prints the full page of sketches at a really high contrast and traces it off onto illustration paper at 10 x 15, sketching the basics in pencil then really refines the drawing and then inks it.

 Once these stages are finished he scans the pages back into the computer colors them in Photoshop and letters them in Adobe Illustrator. 

The Dead Rider is in stores now or it can be ordered online, 112 pages filled with beautiful art and an interesting story and well worth the price.

James Gurney’s Fantasy in the Wild

Armand Cabrera

Fantasy in the Wild: Painting Concept Art on Location

71 Minutes $14.95
Available for purchase as a HD video Download fromGumroad or as a DVD at Kunaki

Fantasy in the Wild: Painting Concept Art on Location is the third video from James Gurney’s “In the Wild” instructional series for onsite sketching. This time he shows us how to add fictional elements using props and imagination into two of his outdoor paintings. The results are a marvelous blend of the fantastic and everyday life. His previous videos in the series are “Gouache in the Wild” and “Watercolor in the Wild”. Both are still available from Gumroad or Sellfy or from James’ Site.

I went for the download version and the checkout was simple and easy. The video and sound qualities are great and James is very personable while he explains his method, tools and materials.

The video contains his process for two different concept paintings in casein. It’s not just procedure though it’s also about concept and how to tease out ideas from places and things in the real world to make the fantasy aspects more believable. He talks about the benefits and challenges for an artist working in the wild, on location. There is a lot of information here. All of the material is presented conversationally in a straightforward way. 

James talks the viewer through every stage of development. You hear him talk about the backstory he invents as he visualizes each scene. We get to watch and listen while he creates pencil roughs, color studies, sketches from life of different elements and each of the final paintings on location.  As he paints he describes his story motivations, his reasons behind his choices for color, shapes, values and brush calligraphy. When he changes his mind about something we see how he corrects it to improve the statement of the particular painting

We also see his attitude about creating a painting. His excitement for his craft is contagious. His work ethic allows him to create whatever it takes to get the job finished to his satisfaction. James does this without worrying about how much work has already been done. This to me is very important. It is this professionalism combined with his high level of skill and drive that makes him the best at what he does and that information alone is worth the price of the video.