Painting Books

I'm pretty picky about recommending books, but especially with painting books! I'd rather a student look at a book of merely good paintings than a book with less than great instruction.

These few titles would be an excellent start for any painter. For a student, I'd round it off with some of the books from the artists section; in particular the Rembrandt book, maybe a book on Sargent, or another late 19th century painter, and some of the books about the California Impressionists. (These are NOT mediocre painters by the way...)

As always though, but especially with painting, the best way to learn is just to get out there and DO it. We ALL feel like we're messing it up. A good painter is simply someone with more experience messing it up!


Alla Prima

Richard Schmid

An instant classic. Schmid is a technically excellent painter, and he does a splendid job of putting on paper the REAL information a painter needs to understand. This book is worth more than most BFA programs! ONLY AVAILABLE DIRECT FROM




Oil Painting Techniques & Materials

Harold Speed

Slightly quaint, but really solid basic instruction. A great book for beginning painters to start with.




Hawthorne on Painting


At first glance, it looks like a pretty boring book. It also READS like a random collection of student notes. (which it actually is) The guy must have been quite a teacher though, because it's STILL good!



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$$ = $15 to $30

$$$ = $30 to $60

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Non-Art Books I Really Enjoyed