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.

Andrew Loomis Quotes on Drawing and Tone

Armand Cabrera

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.

Andrew Loomis Quotes on Color

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.


Creative Illustration
Andrew Loomis
Viking Pres 1947

Eye of the Painter
Andrew Loomis
Viking Press 1961

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

Pay to Print Vanity Press

By Armand Cabrera

Traditional publishers have been facing lackluster sales of books for quite some time. The competition from cheap e-books and the free content of blogs has put a downward pressure on revenues. This is especially true for art book publishers.  To combat this they have come up with a way to guarantee their returns for publishing. It is based on multi-level marketing techniques that have been around for years. It is not actually a pyramid scheme because the participant gets something for their money. What is this something?

 Publishers are now making group art books where they get lower level artists to pay up to 3 or 4 thousand dollars for a spot in the book. They seed the book with bigger name artists who pay reduced fees or in some case no fee. The paying artists are hoping they get status from being in a book with a better artist as if that somehow translates to their career just by association. 
They give a copy or copies to each participant to prevent it from being a pyramid scheme. This is just another variation on the Vanity Press books of old at a much higher price. I started out as an illustrator,  what a lot of these current  gallery artists so desperate for press  don’t know or understand is that illustrators actually get paid to produce art for books not the other way around.

Is it a good way to advertise? Not really, most art books are published at around 20,000 copies, an art magazine can have a circulation of 100,000 targeted opt in customers. It is true books stay on the shelves a little longer than a magazine but not much. There is no guarantee that because a book is on the shelves it will be looked at by someone interested in art enough to buy paintings from artists. The low print count makes them harder to find and of course more expensive to buy and most art books end up remaindered or recycled.

It is said most artists aren’t good at business and the continuation of these books is proof of that old adage.