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David Briggs (Sydney, Australia)

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Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (James Gurney Art)
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (James Gurney Art)
by James Gurney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out, all lazy art and design teachers!, 22 Dec. 2010
I'm very pleased that James Gurney's new book "doesn't contain recipes for mixing colours or step by step painting procedures" (Color and Light, p. 9). Much much better, it shows how an artist of his calibre THINKS about colour and light.

Any single book on this subject can only be an introduction, but what an introduction this is! The book is very generously illustrated with the author's own works, plus those of many of his favourite past masters. These images fully justify their place by showing us what can be achieved, especially from the imagination, by those who are willing to go beyond a simplistic approach to "colour theory".

Gurney admits that when he set out to write the book, he himself at first underestimated the complexity of the subject (p. 222), and found that he needed to research aspects of physics and visual perception more deeply than he had previously. I suspect it's no coincidence that some of his most perfectly realized imaginative paintings, including the sleeping dinosaur on the cover and Titanoboa on p. 165, date from 2009.

The modern books and websites recommended by Gurney for further reading (pp. 220-1) will probably be the most accessible resources for the next steps in your explorations, but it may be worth mentioning that many of the older texts he lists are available for free download or reading online from googlebooks, archive,org and HathiTrust.

I'm quite certain that Color and Light will mark the beginning of the end for the simplistic approach to color that still predominates in art teaching. If you are an art or design student, please get this book, study it, and then pester your teachers ceaselessly until THEY study it.


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