My Favorite Art Books

I have always preferred learning from a book to your typical art class.  The following books were critical to my growth as an artist, and are books I recommend to anyone that wants to pursue their own passion in art.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards

This book is by far THE BEST book for anyone who wants to learn to draw what they see, or to improve their drawing skills.  I am always told by people that they wish they could draw, that they wish they had talent, but that they can't even draw stick people...Well, I was no spectacular artist myself.  As an art teacher (to private students, including many children),  I haven't had many kids who couldn't draw better than me when I was eleven. Really, I was just your typical kid--I loved to draw, but I couldn't draw anything especially well.  Here are some examples of my drawings from age eleven:

Then I read this book, and everything changed.

I was first drawn to this book while looking through the art books at my local library.  I was twelve, and I was in love with creating things, but frustrated with my progress.  Nothing ever turned out like I wanted it to.  EVER.  The thing that drew me to Ms. Edwards' book was the section with pages and pages of before and after drawings, drawings by people before they took her workshops, and after. The change was like night and day.  People whose drawings looked at first like mine were able to draw fantastically better after just a three day workshop.

Within a year after reading her book, I painted this:

And this:

My life has never been the same since.

How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs by Lee Hammond

I can't help it--I LOVE drawing people.  I mean, we all have the same basic features, for the most part: two eyes, a nose, a mouth, a basically egg shaped head...yet, we all look so different!  Just a subtle, minute detail can make a portrait look just like someone or not--and it's incredible hard to notice and create those details.  It is that challenge that I find so addictive.  So often I fail, but it's such a rush when I get it right!! 

When I was getting more seriously into drawing people, I found Lee Hammond's book and it made such a difference in my drawing.  First of all, probably because I've only taken a couple of art classes since I was 12, I learned the correct tools to use for a graphite portrait drawing.  Sure, you can make a drawing with just your regular NO. 2 pencil, but if you get just a few other tools (tortillions, a drafting brush, smooth heavy weight paper, a 2B mechanical pencils, etc.), your drawings will show a marked improvement, I promise! Secondly, Ms. Hammond shows you how to correctly shade the various features of the face to create amazingly realistic facial features.  

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