Andrew Loomis wrote his first two books on drawing as opposed to painting. This was no accident as he understood good drawing the necessary foundation for good realist painting. Fun with a Pencil was written for anyone interested in drawing and its light approach to the subject matter doesn’t detract from the great foundational principals laid out in its pages. Figure Drawing For All its Worth focuses on the figure as no other book has since it came out in 1943. It is the bible for comic book artists, animators and illustrators. Anyone interested in painting the figure should own this book its information is as relevant today as it was when first written. The following are excerpts on drawing and tone.
The way you draw characterizes your work. It is one of the chief means of identification, and has positive value for you and for no one else. For this reason, if for no other, it is foolish to allow another artists style of drawing to influence you too much. Drawing continually from photographs can be equally bad. If you draw from life the chances are that your work will contain much more individuality than it ever will if you use readymade drawings or paintings from which proportions can be traced or copied.
When sketching from life the most practical way is to hold the pencil at arm’s length and by sighting locate the middle point of your subject, both up and down and across. Approximate a rectangle the subject will fit into.
When artists begin to compile and set down their combined experience, give freely and humbly what little they can add, as do other sciences, then art may have some chance to re-establish itself in the hearts of everyday people- even against the mechanical perfection of the camera; even in a period of social adjustment and financial depression.
I can think of no field of endeavor so sadly lacking in simple organization of its working principles. Nothing quite so haphazard, hit-or-miss, as the whole field of artistic endeavor.
Good drawing begins with a search for basic forms
No one can successfully draw or paint a head until they can render the surface of a sphere in light.
With the basic forms established, we can then build on the surface forms.
Since only light can define form, we must study carefully what the light does as it travels across the surfaces, noting the areas of light halftone and shadow.
As the form turns away from the light it produces halftone and shadow. The lightness or darkness of the halftone is the result of the angle of the plane in relation to the direction of the light.
Shadows occur only when the light cannot reach the plane.
Value relationships between objects produce design.
It is design and arrangement that make pictures, regardless of subject.
There are four essential properties of tone: Intensity of light in relation to shadow, Relationship of value to all adjacent tones, Identification of the nature and quality of light, Incorporation of the influence of reflected light.
The five ‘P’s of good drawing: proportion, placement, perspective, planes, and pattern
Tone and harmony come first.
The study of still life is one of the best ways of learning to draw.
Do not interpret me as advising you not to draw from life or nature. Nature is a great storehouse of material. By all means draw from that great source. Do not just copy. “Build” with what you observe for yourself to be true. Try to get the individual quality of each thing you draw. It is that quality that makes the artist interesting.
by Armand Cabrera
Andrew Loomis was a successful illustrator and a teacher at the Chicago Art Institute. He studied at the Art Students League of New York under George Bridgman and Frank Vincent DuMond. He wrote some of the most successful art instruction books ever printed. His six books are a wealth of information for the aspiring artist or illustrator. In print for almost fifty years they were Fun with a Pencil, Figure Drawing for all its worth, Creative Illustration, Successful Drawing, Drawing the Head and Hands and Eye of the Painter. Of the six books he wrote only Creative Illustration and Eye of the Painter deal directly with painting and color. The following quotes are from those two books.
If color is also subject to the natural laws of tone, light and shadow then the only pictorial approach to color which can be of any real value must incorporate these principles.
A color cannot be right until its value is right
No color can be made brighter than its full strength
A color is relative first to the amount of light shining upon it which gives its lightness or darkness
Color is relative to all surrounding color influence
The larger the area the softer the color
All color becomes a source of reflected color when in light and will reflect themselves into lesser light
All color in shadow become recipients of reflected color and will change accordingly
Any two colors will be harmonious when one or both contain some of the other
The local color should never completely lose its identity in the shadow
No color in the shadow can have brighter color intensity than the same color would have in the light.
All colors in their greatest intensity or tints of the pure color should be relegated to the lights and halftones. When reaching the shadows these colors are reduced or grayed, or the color is changed by influence of other color reflecting into the shadow.
The halftones may contain the most brilliant and pure color
Keep your color most intense on the edges of the lighted areas, where it merges into shadow.
We cannot paint nature from a tube or a pot.
The greatest mistake in color, and one that causes lack of unity and harmony, is having too many colors on the palette.
Viking Pres 1947
Eye of the Painter
Viking Press 1961
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.
The book is also available from all the usual book retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Borders