May 19, 2010

Michael Shapcott’s Ultimate Art Recommendations

artistsmanual_web2FOR REFERENCE: The Artist’s Manual which is kind of like an art bible. I use it as an all-around reference guide that especially comes in handy when I forget how to do something. It is loaded with content and includes hundreds of explanations about techniques, composition, color, artist’s materials, and tools and every page is filled with photos and illustrations.

spectrum_fantastic_art_13_web2FOR INSPIRATION: Spectrum which is a thick art annual full of awesome art from a wide array of genres and artistic styles. I get one every year and it’s always a blast to flip through. I don’t know if my work is “fantastic” enough but I’d love to be in one of these volumes. Other great art annuals to be inspired by or even submit your own art to are Communications Arts and American Illustration.

ALoomis_CI_Spectrum_web2FOR INSTRUCTION: I can’t think of anything better than the books by Andrew Loomis. Loomis was a highly regarded commercial illustrator who was prominent in the 40’s and 50’s. Anyone interested in drawing people can benefit from studying him. His rare, out-of-print books books have been an enormous influence on illustrators and artists for many years and I’m no exception. Published between 1939-61, the books are illustrated with Loomis’ own pencil drawings and teach basic drawing and composition, scale, anatomy, drawing the figure without a model, shading, perspective, use of color, form, line, etc. The women in many of the pictures wear high heels and the styling is very mid-20th century (it is an old book) but it won’t matter – the instructions are timeless.

ALoomis_FigureDrawing_th-webThe demand for these great books has been high ever since they were written and they have seen many editions. Unfortunately, they are out of print except for some expensive used editions or newer chopped up versions printed by Walter Foster as Drawing: The Head and Drawing: Figures in Action.

But… the incredibly awesome news is that some scanned archives of the original books in their entirety are available on the web! To my knowledge, all of these books are in the public domain and therefore free to distribute for educational use. I wasn’t sure how permanent they would be on other servers so I downloaded pdf versions of all six books and have since put them on my server for others to download and learn from.

Figure Drawing for All It's Worth
Successful Drawing
Creative Illustration
Drawing the Head & Hands
Eye of the Painter
Fun with a Pencil

Each pdf is linked to its corresponding book cover image above. Depending on your browser settings for pdf’s, you can either click on each image above to view / download or just right click on each image, “Save Link As,” and save to a folder on your computer.

seeingourselves_borzello_web2FOR HISTORY / HERSTORY: Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits which is an inspiring, factual, gorgeous book that delves deeply into how women artists from the 16th through 20th centuries chose to portray themselves. Despite the difficulties of being a female artist throughout the centuries, there is a rich history of self-portraiture by women who didn’t let the restrictions of ‘femininity’ stop them from making their own image. This book brings an awareness to great women painters and photographers and sheds light on an important part of history often and unfortunately missed in art history courses. There are an incredible number and variety of amazing self-portraits, each one trying to answer the difficult questions of self. This book is seriously a must-have.

DVD’s:   Some of my all-time favorites…

Simon Schama's Power of Art
The Private Life of a Masterpiece
Andy Goldsworthy Rivers & Tides
Salvador Dali (Artists of the 20th Century)
Frazetta: Painting with Fire
Sketches of Frank Gehry
Norman Rockwell Painting America
American Splendor

To get more info on each film, hover over each image with your mouse to view it’s DVD title or click on an image to view details/reviews/purchase on it’s amazon product page.


Juxtapoz Magazine with cover art by Mark Ryden
Hi-Fructose Magazine with cover art by Greg "Craola" Simkins
American Art Collector Magazine with cover art by Brad Kunkle

So those are my recommendations for art books, films, and magazines. I’m always on the look out for new (or at least new to me) and inspiring materials so if you have any suggestions, please comment and share!

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