Books for the Desk Set: Sketching & Painting

For this month’s Books for the Desk Set, I decided to focus on books about drawing, sketching and painting. All the books included are books I own this time so they are “Desk-approved” recommendations, if you’re looking for inspiration to draw, sketch or paint.

beautifulfacesDrawing and Painting Beautiful Faces: A Mixed-Media Portrait Workshop
by Jane Davenport ($15.29 paperback)

Drawing Beautiful Faces is one of the best step-by-step books I’ve purchased for learning the techniques for drawing both whimsical and anatomically accurate female faces. I’ve bought  this book for several months ago and found the assignments and examples to be very helpful in creating realistic albeit stylized faces. Davenport started her career as a fashion illustrator and reveals tips and techniques for giving faces a fashion aesthetic versus a more realistic look and provides lots of examples so you can decide which style you prefer.

urbanwatercolorUrban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color
by Felix Scheinberger ($13.99 for Kindle, $18.69 for paperback)

What I find most intriguing about Urban Watercolor Sketching is that it brings a loose, expressive quality to adding color and paint to sketchbook, outdoor and travel sketching. However, you don’t have to be an “urban” painter to appreciate this book. All the information would be just as useful if you just want to paint outside or have a good portable watercolor set-up.

The style of the artwork definitely reminds me of Danny Gregory and his Everyday Matters, Creative License and An Illustrated Life books. I have loved Danny Gregory’s books and they have definitely been inspirational to me to just draw my lunch, or a rock or a leaf and move past that blank page. Urban Watercolor Sketching is a great resource for getting a lot of basic watercolor theory and technique in one book. There is also a bunch of great factoids about the history of pigments you can use to impress your friends at the next trivia night.

I read this book quickly and appreciated that it focused on color theory and painting techniques first then at the back of the book included recommendations for what paints, paper and others the author recommends. I find books that put all the “buy all this stuff” up at the front of the book can be a little intimidating.

If you are hoping to turn your Midori Traveler’s Notebook, Hobonichi or other notebook into a visual chronicle this book may provide some creative inspiration to help you on your journey.

SharpieArtSharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World
by Timothy Goodman ($11.99 Kindle, $15.63 paperback)

How could I not notice a book about Sharpie pens? While not necessarily the go-to pen for day-to-day writing, I know there’s not one of you out there that doesn’t have at least one Sharpie marker in a drawer for writing on just about anything. And it is a favorite tool for artists to use for big bold sketches, graffiti, and drawing on a lot of surfaces that won’t often take other materials. They are bold and messy and the tips dull but they are certainly ubiquitous and make a statement and there looks to be a lot of bold, fun artwork included in this book. The author is a designer, artist and instructor at the School of Visual Arts so included within the book are some simple activities to try using Sharpies as drawing tools as well as inspiring art and artist profiles.

PlayingWithSketchesPlaying With Sketches: 50 creative Exercises for Designer and Artists
by Whitney Sherman ($24.27 paperback)

The bulk of this book is creative exercise spreads with a concept for drawing or sketching and then examples and descriptions of the technique. If you are looking to start a regular drawing practice (like a 30-day project or a more ambitious 365 project) but are worried you are going to run out of ideas, this book would be a great tool to be able to refer to when you’re feeling stuck. From simple mark-making techniques like blind contour drawings and making patterns to more complex projects like sketchbook collaborations and used book sketchbooks. The artwork examples included are interesting and range stylistically. I really like some of the project ideas and think they would make great week long (or longer) drawing projects, particularly the sticky note quilt idea.

I hope you find these books as inspiring as I do. Let me know if you pick any of them up or what your favorite drawing, sketching or painting books are.

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1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks for this ‘books for the desk set’ post!

    I’m a fan of Jane Davenport’s faces, and have her Whimsical Faces workshop. Felix Scheinberger’s book is on my Amazon wish list, though I find that his technique may be a bit too loose for me (based on a video for Danny Gregory’s Sketchbook Skool). Staples had a sale in January on the new Sharpie Ultra Fine Points which I couldn’t resist, so the Sharpie book would be handy! And I’m interested in the last book, as I would like to start a regular drawing practice, though I’m not sure how the book would help keep me disciplined..

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