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Most Highly Recommended

Some of these books are currently out of print, but don't give up! There is still a possibility of finding them through


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"The Practice and Science of Drawing": Harold Speed: Reprint, Dover, 1980

As good as it's companion volume (see below).


"Oil Painting Techniques and Materials": Harold Speed: Reprint, Dover, 1988

I was amazed to find this book in print. I have one of the original copies and assumed it was gone for good! Absolutely great stuff for anyone serious about 'old style' oil painting. Complete run-throughs of a portrait and a still life painting. First published 1924


"The Artist's Handbook of Methods and Materials": Ralph Meyer: Viking Press 1991

The oft quoted technical 'Bible' for the artist. Personally I find it a little dry and sometimes uninspiring, though always reliable from a 'use and properties of materials' viewpoint. (If you're not careful he'll get you too paranoid about technical propriety to do any work at all.) But many, many artists swear by it. Or at it.

art techniques - Mayer

"The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting, with Notes on the Techniques of the Old Masters": Max Doerner: Harcourt Brace: rev edn. 1984.

A great classic: rich, absorbing, thorough, full of techniques and suggestions, never pedantic. Couldn't live without it.

doerner book : art techniques

"Still Life": by Norbert Schneider: Taschen,Cologne, 1994

Covers the period from the late middle ages to the 17th Century. Scholarly, and well illustrated.


'Chardin' : by Marianne Roland Michel

Expensive, but far & away the best book on Chardin.

chardin book

Chardin : An Intimate Art (Discoveries (Abrams))
by Helene Prigent, Pierre Rosenberg , Pierre Rosenberg

chardin book

by Pierre Rosenberg


"Fantin-Latour": by Michelle Verrier: Academy Editions, London, 1977

One of the few easy (ish) to find books on its subject, although currently out of print.

(If you can't find a copy, try )


"Fantin-Latour": Edward Lucie-Smith: Phaidon, Oxford, 1977

Out of print. A gem if you can find it.

(If you can't find a copy, try )


"The Elements of Drawing": John Ruskin: Watson-Guptill

A Victorian Classic, and valuable today, although few will now appreciate some of the Old Madman's sterner strictures! (Ruskin was the foremost art critic of his day, perhaps best known nowadays for sueing James Whistler for 'throwing a pot of paint in the public's face') You can learn more about Ruskin here


A distillation from Ruskin's many volumes of criticism. Enormously inspiring, enormously infuriating, quite brilliant.

Ruskin - Art Book

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