Monday, May 23, 2016

The Acrylic Painter by James Van Patten

book cover
The Acrylic Painter
by James Van Patten

ISBN-13: 9780385346115
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: June 2, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Noted artist and School of Visual Arts instructor James Van Patten offers guidance on materials, processes, balance, and composition, and focuses on effectively using color in painting. He shows how acrylics can provide all painters with a vast range of possibilities for producing highly expressive art.

Readers will learn how to use acrylics to create a wide variety of effects--from watercolor-like transparency and the flatness of tempera and gouache, to the buttery quality of oil and collage adhesive and varnish--in everything from non-representational works to painterly realism to photorealism. Includes detailed step-by-step technical demonstrations and inspiring works by the author, his students, and other artists.

My Review:
The Acrylic Painter is a practical guidebook for those interested in painting with acrylics. You'll get the most benefit from his advice if you read this book before buying your supplies. I would have saved money and frustration if I'd had this advice. When I saw this book, I figured if the author could create huge, hyper-realistic landscape paintings using acrylic, he must know what I need to know! Indeed, he does, and he understands the types of things that a beginner with acrylics actually needs to know to enjoy the experience.

He discussed the pros and cons of different brands and types of acrylic paints. He also talked about what colors you need--he suggests starting with just five colors--and described the other supplies you'll need or may want in the future. He explained basic painting information like color theory, looking at the world in a way that helps you to paint what's actually there, and possible styles (abstract to hyper-realistic) and subjects (still life, portraits, landscapes). He also covered painting techniques like underpainting, using photographs and grids, tricks for painting hard edges, blending, glazing, and impasto painting. He ended by describing how to finish the painting's surface with protective layers and briefly described matting and framing your work.

There were some suggested exercises and demonstrations. They're practical things like how to blend large areas or create an underpainting. He used his and other people's paintings as illustrations to demonstrate various points from the text. While I'm getting fairly confident at painting in oil and watercolor, this book has definitely helped me understand how to successfully use acrylics.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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