Learning: Materials & Techniques: Historical
Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Harold Speed – Paperback, 280 pages Dover edition (February 1988) Dover Pubns

Reader review: This book is a treasure. I have checked it out of the library several times already and now have finally decided to buy it. I have yet to find a better guide to traditonal painting techniques. In a world of modern techniques based on 20th century aesthetics, this is the book for those of us who follow a different path. If you want to paint like Velasquez, Titian, or Nerdrum, this is the place to start.

The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting With Notes on Their Techniques of the Old Masters by Max Doerner, Eugen Neuhaus (Translator) – Paperback, 435 pages, Revised edition, Harcourt Brace, 1984

Reader review: Max Doerner lectured art students with the most accurate information ever compiled up to 1932. About 1900 there was a big change in the manufacturing of color, Max was the artist's protector. "Art has abandoned the sound principles of craftsmanship and is therefore lacking in a dependable foundation". (Max Doerner 1931) If you are a serious artist, I urge you to get this book. Compare it to the Mayer's Artists Handbook and see how just information pertaining to new colors is mentioned and the rest of Max's historical work was usurped.

Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters: Two Volumes Bound As One by Charles Lock Eastlake, Charles Lock, Sir Eastlanke – Paperback: 561 pages Publisher: Dover Publications; 2 Bks in 1 edition (March 1, 2001)

Greek and Roman art methods, medieval techniques, tempera painting, van Eyck’s revolutionary use of oil paints, Flemish methods of preparing colors, methods of 18th-century British artists, technical secrets of Italian schools, including such masters as Leonardo, Raphael, Correggio, Andrea del Sarto, and more.

A Manual of Oil Painting by John Collier Paperback: 124 pages Publisher: Lulu.com (August 21, 2006)

This republication of the third edition (1889) of John Collier's classic text offers a fascinating and informative glimpse into the academic oil painting tradition of the late nineteenth century. Includes instructions for painting from life using the "sight-size" method, advice on choosing the proper paints and mediums, as well as in-depth discussions of subject matter, color theory, and the comparative advantages of direct versus indirect painting. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the revival of traditional oil painting techniques.

Pre-Raphaelite Painting Techniques by Joyce Townsend – Paperback: 208 pages Publisher: Tate (December 1, 2004)

In this unusual book readers are given the opportunity to examine works of the Pre-Raphaelites as closely as a conservator would, and to uncover the artistic methods practiced by these painters. Combining modern scientific research-including X-ray and infrared technology, high-level magnification, and material analysis-with commentary from the letters and diaries of the artists themselves, this book explores the innovative techniques behind 20 of their extraordinary works in a way that no previously published study has attempted.

In addition to extensive full-color illustrations, many of them large-scale details, this fascinating volume features texts by leading conservators that provide a historical perspective on the works and techniques in question.

AUTHOR BIO: Joyce H. Townsend is a senior conservation scientist at Tate. Jacqueline Ridge is head of paintings and conservation at Tate. Stephen Hackney is head of conservation science at Tate.

Historical Painting Techniques, Materials, and Studio Practice: Preprints of a Symposium University of Leiden, the Netherlands 26-29 June 1995 by Arie Wallert, Erma Hermens, Marja Peek (Editor) – Paperback (June 1995) Getty Conservation Inst

From Book News, Inc., May 1, 1996 A volume of preprints prepared for a June 1995 symposium which brought together conservators, art historians, and conservation scientists. Twenty-seven contributions discuss a wide range of topics and approaches to the study of historical painting techniques, including scientific methods of examination as well as bibliographical and archival research. The advantages of combined approaches are clear; the field is truly interdisciplinary and is evolving rapidly. Abundantly illustrated. Lacks a subject index. —Annotation © by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Paint With the Watercolor Masters: A Step-By-Step Guide to Materials and Techniques for Today's Artists by Jonathan Stephenson – Paperback, 160 pages (May 1998) Watson-Guptill Pubns

Unique among watercolor instruction books, this volume documents, in carefully sequenced photographs, the working methods of great artists as diverse as Durer, Turner, Cezanne, and Sargent. Readers are shown step by step how to make the best use of the masters' insights. 325 color illustrations.

Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting: Original Texts With English Translations by Mary P. Merrifield (Editor) – Paperback, 918 pages (April 1999) Dover Pubns

Preeminent among rare reference books, this 1849 work reprints (with the original-language version and its English translation on facing pages) manuscript collections on painting and related arts from the 12th through 17th centuries. The treatises describe European oil painting practices, methods of mixing pigments, much more. Preliminary commentary on each treatise, plus excellent introduction discussing social history, artistic practices. Glossary. Index. 6 illus.

Master Strokes: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using the Techniques of the Masters for Pastels by Hazel Harrison – Hardcover, 96 pages (May 1999) Sterling Publications

This volume contains seven “lessons” that focus on a painting by a great artist, provide background information, and give a detailed evaluation of the techniques. In addition, “how-to” instructions are provided. Master Strokes: Pastel teaches atmospheric and urban landscapes, still lifes, and portraits through a study of works by Turner, Constable, de La Tour, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, and Courbet.

Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics (Vol 2 - Paper) by Ashok Roy (Editor) – Paperback Reprint edition Vol 002 (October 1997) Natl Gallery of Art

An encyclopedic reference developed in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, the Artists's Pigments series combines two aspects of the study of pigments--the history of individual pigments and dyes and scientific methods for identifying and characterizing artists' colorants--rarely brought together in one publication. Volume 2 contains extensive studies of nine pigments including azurite and blue verditer, ultramarine blue, lead white, lead-tin yellow, smalt, verdigris and copper resinate, vermilion and cinnabar, malachite and green verditer, and calcium carbonate whites. These essays, which originally appeared in Studies in Conservation, have been substantially revised and brought up to date. This groundbreaking series is of compelling interest to the practicing artist, art historian, conservation scientist and conservator, and connoisseur.

Techniques of the Impressionists by Anthea Callen – Hardcover Publisher: New Burlington Books (1987)

This authorative but clear analysis examines 30 key paintings in detail..

Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting by Daniel Thompson, B. Berenson (Designer) – Paperback (June 1957) Dover Pubns


The Art of Impressionism: Painting Technique and the Making of Modernity by Anthea Callen – Hardcover: 256 pages Publisher: Yale University Press (December 11, 2000)

This magnificent book is the first full-scale exploration of Impressionist technique. Focusing on the easel-painted work of Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, Cassatt, Morisot, Caillebotte, Sisley, and Degas in the period before 1900, it places their methods and materials in a historical perspective and evaluates their origins, novelty, and meanings within the visual formation of urban modernity.

Drawing on scientific studies of pigments and materials, artists’ treatises, colormens’ archives, and contemporary and modern accounts, Anthea Callen demonstrates how raw materials and paintings are profoundly interdependent. She analyzes the material constituents of oil painting and the complex processes of “making” entailed in all aspects of artistic production, discussing in particular oil painting methods for landscapists and the impact of plein air light on figure painting, studio practice, and display. Insisting that the meanings of paintings are constituted by and within the cultural matrices that produced them, Callen argues that the real “modernity” of the Impressionist enterprise lies in the painters’ material practices. Bold brushwork, unpolished, sketchy surfaces, and bright, “primitive” colors were combined with their subject matter—the effects of light, the individual sensation made visible—to establish the modern as visual.

Portrait Painting Atelier: Old Master Techniques and Contemporary Applications ~ Suzanne Brooker (Author), Domenic Cretara (Foreword) – Hardcover: 208 pages Watson-Guptill (March 9, 2010)

"Portrait Painting Atelier" provides serious artists with a course of instruction that demonstrates in step-by-step detail the old masters' technique of layering paint over a toned-ground surface, a process that builds from the transparent dark areas to the more densely painted lights. In this method, the tone of the ground serves to unify the overall painting as well as optically influencing the thinly applied layers of pigment, creating the effect of a beautiful glow that illuminates the skin tones and achieves a soft blending of colour tones.

Techniques of the Great Masters of Art by Waldemar Januszczak – Hardcover, 540 pages, Reissue edition, Hacker Art Books, 1996

Although vital, painting techniques have often been ignored in art history. This book offers the methods of 77 of the world's greatest painters illustrated with actual-size details and color reproductions of hundreds of paintings.

How to Paint Like the Old Masters by Joseph Sheppard – Paperback (September 1983) Watson-Guptill Pubns


The Painter's Secret Geometry: A Study of Composition in Art by Charles Bouleau – Hardcover: 268 pages Publisher: Hacker Art Books; New Ed edition (June 1980)

Reader review: If you got to this page then you are probably already one of the cult following of the legendary Painters Secret Geometry. I read this book in the form of an entire copy xeroxed form a library edition in the late 80s which I borrowed from another art fan. (Trust me I looked for it but it wasn't for sale anywhere) We both missed the reprint and aren't I kicking myself for it?

Basically Bouleau goes through many many master works of art and extracts the Golden mean from them. The placement of that figure, the way she is holding the vase in relation to her body—so many elements in the composition of these paintings coincide with mathematic placement its eerie. The concept of extracting Fibonacci numbers and finding geometrical patterns in art is nothing new, but here it is demonstrated over and over and much better than anecdotal evidence.

I have never understood why this book is so hard to get ahold of. It has been referenced over and over again since its original publication and was a big influence on art analysis.

Classical Painting Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice ~ by Juliette Aristides – Hardcover: 256 pages Watson-Guptill; 1st edition (April 1, 2008)

Students of art hailed Classical Drawing Atelier, Juliette Aristides’s first book, as a dynamic return to the atelier educational model. Ateliers, popular in the nineteenth century, teach emerging artists by pairing them with a master artist over a period of years. The educational process begins as students copy masterworks, then gradually progress to painting as their skills develop. The many artists at every level who learned from Classical Drawing Atelier have been clamoring for more of this sophisticated approach to teaching and learning. In Classical Painting Atelier, Aristides, a leader in the atelier movement, takes students step-by-step through the finest works of Old Masters and today’s most respected realist artists to reveal the principles of creating full-color realist still lifes, portraits, and figure paintings. Rich in tradition, yet practical for today’s artists, Classical Painting Atelier is ideal for serious art students seeking a timeless visual education.

Traditional Oil Painting: Advanced Techniques and Concepts from the Renaissance to the Present by Virgil Elliott – Hardcover: 224 pages Publisher: Watson-Guptill (August 7, 2007)

As more and more artists today look to the past, there has been a tremendous resurgence of interest in painting realistically--in creating convincing illusions of three-dimensional depth on two dimensional surfaces. How did the Old Masters create their masterpieces? What kind of education allowed these great artists to create such beautiful work, and how can an artist learn these lessons today? Traditional Oil Painting answers those questions and many more. This comprehensive sourcebook explores the most advanced levels of oil painting, with full information on the latest scientific discoveries. Author and distinguished artist Virgil Elliott examines the many elements that let artists take the next step in their work: mental attitude, aesthetic considerations, the importance of drawing, principles of visual reality, materials, techniques, portraiture, photographic images versus visual reality, and color. Traditional Oil Painting helps artists master the secrets of realistic painting to create work that will rival that of the masters.

How to Paint Like the Impressionists: A Practical Guide to Re-Creating Your Own Impressionist Paintings by Susie Hodge – Paperback: 144 pages Publisher: Collins Design (August 17, 2004)

Impressionism has captured the imagination of people the world over since its first exhibition in Paris in 1874. People have long sought to understand how and why the Impressionists created their paintings and how their techniques might be replicated. Susie Hodge reveals the answers to these questions by assessing the techniques and styles of the great masters of Impressionism and showing how artists today can use their methods.

An informative introduction explains how the Impressionist movement came about, explores its historical context, and defines the style and inspiration of the artists involved. The heart of the book, however, focuses on eight major Impressionist painters—Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cassatt, Degas, Cezanne, Seurat and Van Gogh—revealing how they worked and analyzing their well-known paintings. Each case includes step-by-step demonstrations that show the reader exactly how to re-create Impressionist painting details in appropriate style.

Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of Their History & Characteristics (A National Gallery of Art U. S. a. Publication) by Elisabeth West Fitzhugh (Editor), Robert L. Feller (Editor), Ashok Roy (Editor) Hardcover: 368 pages Publisher: National Gallery of Art; 3rd edition (October 1997)

An encyclopaedic reference developed by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Artists' Pigments combines two aspects of the study of pigments—the history of individual pigments and dyes and scientific methods for identifying and characterizing artists' colourants—rarely brought together in one publication. Each pigment is examined individually with extensive illustration. In addition to the history of each pigment's use, manufacture, and nomenclature, matters of concern to the practicing artist are explored, such as colour, permanence, compatibility, and handling qualities. Composition is analysed, particularly chemical and physical variations that may arise due to differences in source, methods of preparation, adulterants, and impurities. Conservation scientists will find a compendium of analytic techniques that are used to characterize and identify the pigment. With four volumes projected, Artists' Pigments offers a unique combination of history and scientific analysis.

Mastery of Alla Prima Painting by Frederic Taubes – Hardcover: 128 pages Publisher: F&W Pubns (August 1980)

From dust jacket: Here is a complete account of the painting method that originated in Flanders in the 15th century. The detailed instructions allow the contemporary artist to express himself along the prerogatives of our times, while employing traditional technical means.

The historic term alla prima refers to painting on an imprimatura without preliminary underpainting, while aiming from the start at achieving the final effects. This implies the work has to be finished while the initially applied colors are still wet. The technique is easily adapted to simlifications and spontaneous rendition of nearly all subject matter.

Bosch, Brueghel and later Rubens were among the first who initiated the method, and they all worked on panels. The 17th and 18th century work in alla prima was usually done on canvas. Here, instead of the imprimatura a tone ground was used which, applied on top of the white priming, minimized the rough texture of the canvas, allowing the alla prima operation to proceed unimpeded.

The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat by Martin Kemp – Paperback: 383 pages Publisher: Yale University Press; Reprint edition (April 22, 1992)

This work, one of the most lucidly written art history books in recent memory, addresses a topic of inherent complexity and great recent interest. Kemp (Univ. of St. Andrews), who has written on Leonardo, discusses perspective and optic theories as they related to the central problem of European painting for half a millennium, the verisimilar depiction of nature. The first part of the book discusses perspective theory and practice and the use of devices that led toward photography. In the second part, Kemp explores optic theories derived from Aristotle and from Newton and their theoretical and practical impacts on painting. The only minor cavil is the unclear order of the select bibliography; otherwise, this is a superb and thoughtful book, with a level of writing to which few can aspire. Highly recommended for general as well as special collections.
Jack Perry Brown, Ryerson & Burnham Libs., Art Inst. of Chicago


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