Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Review: Painting with Your Artist's Brain

As part of the composition project I've been reading Painting With Your Artist's Brain by Carl Purcell. Today I'll do a general overview of the book, the rest of the week I'll be discussing specific points from the book.

I saw this book at the used book store and decided to get it because it looked like it addressed some areas that I was looking into. When I came home I read the amazon reviews and one said that it was a poor knock-off of Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Now, it is true that Purcell makes the same distinction between artist brain and intellectual brain that Edwards' does with right and left sides of the brain. It is also true that he sort of beats the reader over the head with the idea in the first chapter or two. But, I actually think that he takes the concept a step further than Edwards. She makes the distinction to increase accuracy in drawing, whereas Purcell uses it to make a better painting (not just accuracy, but in classic terms of value, shape, and pattern.) In the end, the concept is the same, he is just taking it more in a painterly direction than a rendering direction as Edwards does.

Beyond that opening section, and a section on using watercolor, he spends the remaining chapters discussing different elements of composition and how to make them work for you. Value and shape are not revolutionary, but he spends time discussing them in specific instances and helping you see how he evaluates them. I really appreciated the examples where he showed a reference photo and then went through a discussion of why he deviated from it for the painting.

There were also a fair number of watercolor tips and tricks included. He had a section that gave exercises to do to improve your watercolor technique. Frankly, watercolor scares me, but I may just have to break them out and have a go at some of his ideas.

As per the usual rating system, I would give this book four out of five pencils. In fact, I think so highly of it, I'll be posting some discussion on it all week long, come back and join in!

The image above is part of my month long study of the head - taken from Paul Leveille's Drawing Expressive Portraits.


Jo Castillo said...

Rose, thanks for the review. I will be interested to see how this progresses.

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Thanks Rose, as usual this is so interesting to read your doing such a good job. Your inspiring me to do more research and do some study myself on various things i need working on. :)

Just wanted to let you know i am reading :)

Rose Welty said...

Thanks ladies! Nice to know people are reading. I love to read this kind of stuff and when I blog about it, I remember it better! ;-)