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This book is often listed in the best books on art that appear online. Anyone who is worried about the age of this book-that was written in 1928 -or the fact that Carlson painted landscape in oils limiting its value to them if they work in other media can stop worrying. The language in it is of its time and a bit high-flown but quite readable and his enthusiasm for his subject carries you along. There is only one chapter on materials and equipment for plein-air painting in oils and this is peppered with good advice for painters in any medium. (However any painter in oils should beware of following Carlson's advice about or ways with solvents and toxic pigments . These now would be seen as both detrimental to their health and damaging to the environment .) Primarily this book addresses how to properly see landscape, why it looks as it does and how to make a painting of it. It is packed with observations and information that explains why some things work and others don't explained in a simple but memorable way. In it I discovered explanations for why some of my watercolours had worked and others did not and a lot of very cheering reinforcement for the way I tackle things. If you want help in getting clouds and skies to look right, getting your trees to look convincing or are struggling to convey depth in your landscapes you will probably find useful information and solutions in this brilliant book. (I was especially cheered by seeing where I had accidentally hit on one of his recommendations and now understanding why it made a good painting, so I can consistently repeat it in future.) I am unsure how much benefit a complete beginner would get from this book, although it was originally developed as a text book for Carlson's art students. I think anyone who wishes to progress in their approach to landscape would get a lot from it though. The fact it is illustrated in black and white was not a problem for me as this is not a step by step book, however I found the copious explanatory diagrams to be very informative and useful. There are some parts of the book I think can safely be ignored, the early 20th century idea of Art was very different to how it is now and the author was a painter of his time espousing contemporary philosophies. However there is so much in this book that is useful that I really do wish I had discovered it years ago and recommend it to any painter of landscape as essential reading.
I first read this book while staying with a friend in San Diego - and it kept me up half the night! I was allowed to read it on the strict understanding that it didn't go home with me!
My reason for reading it was because I'd read about 'Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting' for years in internet art forums - it's regarded as the absolute standard for traditional instruction on landscape painting. When I came to read for myself I quickly began to understand why people raved about it - and lamented when I had to leave because I'd never seen it for sale in an art bookshop in England.
Which is where the wonders of the Internet and Amazon comes in - I was able to order a copy for myself and it's now prominent in my collection of books about landscape painting.
One thing - you need to understand this book was written a long time ago. I think it was first published in 1929 - and in those days the language used for art instruction was rather different. This is also not a big picture book - it only includes monochrome illustrations and there's not a lot of those. Which means that this book will come as quite a big shock to the system for those who are only used to modern art instruction books.
That doesn't make any of its content any less valid - you just have to adjust to a different approach to instruction and a different way of saying things.
Plus keep reminding yourself of two facts: 1) Having fewer illustrations means that there are MORE words covering MORE topics. This is emphatically not a dumbed down book! It's excellent in its coverage of topics relevant to landscape painting 2) This is a book which has stayed popular for the last 85 years because it's a very good instruction book which people keep buying!
Let’s get this out of the way - this book is in BLACK & WHITE. It was printed in the 20’s. Any reviews that give this book a low rating because of that is a reflection of the reviewer being unable to read the details of the product.
With that out of the way, this is indispensable to anyone who seeks to paint nature. Ruskin praises the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood for “putting nothing in, leaving nothing out”. Carson fundamentally disagrees - he asks us to look at our view, discern the essential motif and then arrange the structure of the painting around that motif. He states that nature is rarely beautiful of itself - it must be arranged to make it so. Such profound thinking is then added to by layers of essential detail, from a life of observation and narrow eyed study.
One can disagree with much of what he writes - for example, his recommendation of Rose Madder is totally out of date given that other, less fugitive, versions are available, but take the golden pieces of advice and leave the things aside that don’t fit with you. But buy the book and make the most of it. It will improve your sight, your vision and your painting.
This book arrived before time well wrapped and in perfect condition, and is just what I was looking for. Having painted for about 20 years, I found I was becoming a bit stale and decided to go back to basics. The monochromatic pictures in this book takes me back to when I first took a brush and started painting and learning about tonal values and composition, without the added distraction of colour, for now. Thankyou to the supplier for the swift distribution, appreciated.
I don't think just landscape artists or aspiring landscape artists would benefit from this. Anyone who is planning to paint with oils will find it useful. It's got so much good information about set-up, composition, so on. It's written in a lovely style - very readable. This is one of the best painting guides I've looked at, but for those that prefer step-by-step, it's not one of those.
Must have for landscape painting theory - good examples and explanation. Majority is text and I found hilarious some parts, book is actually talking with You like a very experienced and skilled friend.
Although all the illustrations are in black and white and the book is written in the quaint style of the time in which it first appeared it is full of excellent advice and insights which are very difficult to come by in more modern publications. Not really for beginners but excellent for consolidating knowledge if you are at an intermediate or advanced level of oil painting. Inspirational and motivational are the two words which seem to adequately describe the overall effect of this timeless book!
Love this book! Came across it as suggested by Amazon and it was a real find. This classic book doesn't just tell you the nuts and bolts of how to do it, it also talks about how to think about art and what your intention or purpose is. Recommended for all levels.
Carlson offers a nice blend of the practical and conceptual. A book that can be dipped into which offers multiple layers of insight. Definitely a recommended read, which will aid your creative journey - especially suitable for direct observation aka plein air enthusiasts. Given time and practice, the content can be fully grasped and put into art work. Colour plates (as well as the provided black and white versions, for comparison) would have been nice. However, I understand that these are not necessary given that seeing from nature always offers infinite colour variations across light conditions. Carlson's passion and dedication are evident in the text, which lends a characterful edge to his words of wisdom.