Painter’s Progress Art Book – BOOK TRIAL #1

Over the next week or so I’m going to be looking through a few art books to see which one I would like to use to improve my artwork.  Today I read through the first 30-40 pages of the book, ‘Painter’s Progress’ to see what that one’s like.


The initial reading at the front of the book was excellent.  I learned loads.

(1) I learned some of the names artists use for things, and how technically they are used properly – things like shape, form, colour, dimension, tone and especially hue, tint and shade.  Previously reading art books I’ve been stuck because I didn’t know the nomenclature for this kind of thing, so this was really very helpful.  It’s interesting too because knowing how the words about something are organised seems to provide some stuctures in my mind for when I’m thinking about art so that the things I know just from looking can be better understood, categorised and remembered.  I’ve read before about the power of words, but being a ‘pictures person’ (I see and think and feel in pictures) I’ve previously dismissed this.  I get it now.  🙂

(2) Having read some of these special words in the ‘Painter’s Progress’ book I thought I would look them up on the internet to learn more.  I found that there is something called:  ‘The seven Elements of Art’  which are like the basic axes of the space which is called art (a seven dimensional space in fact).

The seven elements are:   line, shape, form, space, texture, value, color

Now line is kind of obvious,

Shape is a defined 2D area,

Form is the a defined 3D volume,

Space is the volume between objects in a piece of art,

Texture is a topographical description of the surface of an object,

Value is how dark or light somthing is (like tone)

Colour is what ‘hue’ something is (a hue is just a specific wavelength of light which has a colour) and how intense that hue is (from almost transparent to where only that colour can be seen).


I like these definitions. (Well I like them all except ‘Space’ which seems a bit wishy washy to me.)

To help me remember the colour / value thing I made a small chart:


(3) I also learned about primary secondary and tertiary colours (which are different from those in light:


(4) And I learned that some colours are warm and others are cold – e.g. red (warm) and blue (cold) and they have different effects in a painting because of this.  I expect that this warm / cold definition comes from things in our human environment which we associate with various temperatures. e.g. a wood fire is yellow orange and red and when things are lit by firelight they take on these hues so this is how we get warm colours.  Compare this to blue ice and white snow and the effect these things have on those around them colour-wise.  I think this is where the idea of cold colours comes from.

They also say that cold colours ‘receed’ and decorators use that to make small rooms feel bigger.  They also use the opposite effect to make big rooms feel more intimate with warm colours.  Although these ideas are pretty simple to remember it’s important to know them because in my painting I can use this info to communicate things in my pictures using colour.  Amazing!

There were  few other basic exercises I did as part of this introductory section in the book e.g the difference between line and tone to suggest an object:

Line work suggests the image of my phone on the desk.
Line work suggests the image of my phone on the desk.


Tone as well as lines suggest the image of my phone on the desk even more.
Tone as well as lines suggest the image of my phone on the desk even more.

However, after all the really good basic information about how to talk about art, the first few lessons in the book seemed to be all about drawing regular household objects.  I even gave a couple of the lessons a go to see what they were like to do but I really struggled with them.  The exercises themselves were reletively easy technically but finding the enthusiasm to spend time painting something which seems really dull to me was very hard.

Several times a day I feel inspired to draw or to paint by something amazing that I’ve seen. When that happens I just can’t wait to pick up a paint brush.  It’s very hard to describe, but it has to do with wonder and with joy and with the touch of heaven on earth.  Painting or drawing without that, for me, is like having a bike without wheels – I could own one but it would be pointless.  Which leaves me with a bit of a conundrum over working through this particular book since the whole of ‘Painter’s Progress’ seems to be about drawing ‘household objects’.  Hmmmm, so, if I do go ahead with this book I will have to be a bit creative in how I use it and maybe pick and choose the lessons a bit too.

I will look at some other books over the next few days.



8 thoughts on “Painter’s Progress Art Book – BOOK TRIAL #1

  1. Thanks for the advice – that’s really really helpful! I suspect it’s partly to do with the autism, but I don’t find it easy to deviate from what a book tells me to do even when I think it migh be rthe best thing. Having someone formally say I can draw / paint somthing that interests me instead of what they suggest in the book helps enormously. It kind of sets me free from some of that rigidity. A friend recently told me that I often act like a robot – just doing exactly what I’m told regardless of whether it’s approriate or not – and I can see what she means.
    Anyway, really helpful comment – thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review and I like your phone drawings. If you skim through the book then it follows a pattern of small to large. Objects -> furniture -> interior scenes -> inside looking out -> land/sea/water scapes -> people and portraits. I think this is because it is trying to instill lessons on composition and you can arrange objects however you like but it takes more skill to create a good landscape composition because you have to work with what’s in front of you. I don’t think you have to use ‘household’ objects – they just figure that everyone has them. Just work to the scale (moveable objects vs panorama landscapes) of the chapter you’re in but draw anything that interests you. Also feel free to skip around, i don’t think it necessarily needs to be done in order!


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