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Top 10 Art Books (2014) Every Artist Should Own

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

Know Stuff. Paint Better.

Knowledge precedes execution: the more you study prior to painting, the better your actual painting will be. So with the arrival of a new year, I have a renewed vision to reread all the best art books in my collection. Here is my list of the top ten art books every artist should own.


Express yourself and be inspired with the help of these wonderful books, tips, & tutorials. From the beginning artist looking for a comprehensive introduction to the more experienced painter looking for a challenge, everyone can find a valuable lesson designed to help you create a brand new piece or add new depth to your technique. Here’s to your creativity!


1. Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson All time best landscape book. Written for oils but relevant for artists working in any medium. $19.99


2. Alla Prima II Everything I Know About Painting - and More by Richard Schmid Quintessential art book. Seeing is believing. Revised with new paintings to drool over. It’s a few dollars but the information is top drawer! $129


3. Hawthorne on Painting by Charles W. Hawthorne The only book I’ve ever seen that teaches you about every aspect of painting without a single picture and it works so well. $12.99


4. The Painter's Process by William F. Reese Great insights into thinking and painting like a true professional. This book is out-of-print but we have a few copies left. $69


5. How to Sell Art by Jason Horejs Book one of the two book series on how to be professional and sell your art. This is the book a world renowned gallery owner uses to teach his staff how to sell art. $24.95


6. Starving to Successful by Jason Horejs Book two of how to think, act and work like a professional artist. Get the attitude and get the dream. $24.95


7. Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne Funny thing is that this book doesn’t contain as much about composition as it implies but it’s loaded with knowledge gems. This book is expensive but worth every quarter.


8. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon New to the list - this is a great book of insights on how to really create your own world. Austin Kleon hits the nail on the head with this masterpiece. (I stole this book from Erica Neumann. Thanks!)


9. Landscape Painting - Inside & Out by Kevin Macpherson Macpherson’s second book (The first book - Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Colour made it on the list three years running). This book also has something for everyone, not just the landscape painter.


10. The Art Spirit by Robert Henri Sexy book on how to see and understand the art you are creating. One word… Outstanding!


Bonus: Sergei Bongart by Mary N. Balcomb The most stunning visual feast in a book ever. Out-of-print but if you are lucky enough to find one, buy it along with some Krazy Glue to paste your eyes back into your head after they will pop out when you see these paintings.

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