Book Review: Portait Painting Atelier

Before the holiday break I had read The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. The book had likened  developing creative skills to hands on a clock. After you've "mastered" a skill you should push yourself to work on the next technique. At some point, you'll move back around the "clock" to the original skill you mastered and will have to refresh yourself on it. Well, that's how I felt about painting. I hadn't worked in color for a really long time and decided the holiday break would be a good time to revisit that part of the skill "clock".

The book, The Portrait Atelier proved to be the perfect book to help me think like a painter again.

The book is pretty amazing, it covers everything you need to consider when getting into portrait painting. It starts with oil painting supplies including studio set up, canvas, mediums, paint colors, and brushes. The author even goes into great detail about safety in the studio. I have to admit the book until this point made me very happy to be working digitally. It's a huge relief to not worry about the ongoing expense of supplies, the clean up, storage, and precautions that need to be taken when oil painting. However, I'd probably struggle more with working digitally if I hadn't experienced working in traditional media. So, I guess like everything it's a balance.

Next, the author covers paint mixing for skin tones. For me, this was a super helpful refresher course in color.

Another book I had read over the holiday break was Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis. The two books both covered anatomy but had different approaches. One suggested building the face from the head shape inward while the other encouraged starting from the eyes and moving outward. Both books agreed that to create a likeness to a subject the artist should focus on the parts of the face that vary the most between individuals. This includes the hairline, and features made of cartilage (nose and ears). 

Finally, the book walked through the development of numerous painted portraits. Every step was covered [study, underpainting, shadows, details etc....]. The process was described both in great detail and in an approachable voice.

If you're completely new to oil painting and portraiture you'll learn everything you need to know from this book. If you're an experienced painter you'll love it as a refresher.