Definitive texts on composition, color theory?

Join 500,000+ Artists

Its' free and it takes less than 10 seconds!

Join the #1 Art Workshop - LevelUpJoin Premium Art Workshop

Results 1 to 21 of 21

Thread: Definitive texts on composition, color theory?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Posts
    34
    Thanks
    7
    Thanked 22 Times in 8 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0

    Definitive texts on composition, color theory?

    Hi all! I read these forums an awful lot, especially following the CHOW and EOW competitions, but I don’t post too often. Anyway I’ve got a question that I think would be beneficial to a lot of people, but something I haven’t see discussed all that frequently.

    There seems to be a general consensus that the best books available on figurative anatomy are from Bridgman and Loomis, and I see Vlippu’s name mentioned quite a bit as well.

    I’m wondering… are there definitive texts out there for other facets of foundational studies? I’m most interested in finding something on composition, but I think solid refrences on color theory and perspective would be great to have as well.

    Any suggestions? Thanks guys & gals!

    Last edited by Jussslic; April 22nd, 2010 at 11:42 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  


  2. Hide this ad by registering as a member
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,711
    Thanks
    2,673
    Thanked 5,930 Times in 2,383 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0

    Books on Color and Composition

    You are going to get fifty million opinions so here are my top picks.

    'Composition' by Arthur Wesly Dow
    Covers color and composition

    'The Color of Design' Maitland Graves
    Covers color and composition

    'Creative Illustration' Andrew Loomis
    Covers color and composition

    'The composition of Outdoor Painting Edgar Payne
    This book is written for the landscap'e painter but the compositional theories apply to anything and are worth a look

    Jim Gurney has a new book coming out in October I believe 'Color and Light: a Guide for the Realist Painter'
    Which will be a great addition to the subject

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to dpaint For This Useful Post:


  5. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,208
    Thanks
    772
    Thanked 463 Times in 225 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I'v yet to hear of a definitive source that has the caliber of bridgmens or Loomis. Try http://www.huevaluechroma.com/index.php its pretty advanced but if you can muscle your way through it will pay off

    Last edited by Demo; April 23rd, 2010 at 12:11 AM.
    -Demo-
    -Sketch Book Updated Sporadically-
    My Blog
    Tumbler & Wookmark (finished pieces and Cool stuff I find)
    -Facebook(always on but never post)-

    If you see me on FB, or CA Talk to me, never to busy to talk and love to hear from you, chat me up about anything (Music, Games, art, ect)
    If anyone is interested in streams or hangouts let me know!
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  6. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,899 Times in 2,544 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I second dpaint's list.

    My favorite book on composition is "Drawing Scenery; Landscapes and Seascapes" by Jack Hamm - inexpensive - also oriented toward landscape but the principles apply to anything.

    Creative Illustration by Loomis is a must have - and it's free - just search around for a .pdf.

    For color theory I expect Gurney's book to be the new standard. I would stay away from huevaluechroma.com myself - makes the subject far more complicated than necessary and is formulaic in approach as opposed to observational.

    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to JeffX99 For This Useful Post:


  8. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    824
    Thanks
    187
    Thanked 1,379 Times in 326 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I would stay away from huevaluechroma.com myself - makes the subject far more complicated than necessary and is formulaic in approach as opposed to observational.

    He he, do you find anatomy and perspective formulaic as opposed to observational?

    Understanding doesn't preclude observation: it greatly assists it.

    Anyway, the big G sent me a draft of part of his book for comment, and I can say that it promises to be an exceptonally reliable introduction to the basics of colour for painters. Any beginner who reads it first will certainly find huevaluechroma.com perfectly approachable.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  9. The Following 11 Users Say Thank You to briggsy@ashtons For This Useful Post:

    + Show/Hide list of the thanked


  10. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1,680
    Thanks
    699
    Thanked 596 Times in 283 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Picture This: How Pictures Work. by Molly Bang is a great one for composition


    "The New Munsell Student Colour Set" is good for showing colour and setting up excercises for you to learn colour. Look for a used one on Amazon. Try and get one that has the colour chips still in the bags.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  11. The Following User Says Thank You to Craig D For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Vasa, Finland
    Posts
    2,590
    Thanks
    3,490
    Thanked 1,209 Times in 438 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I would just like to say that in addition to Bridgman and Loomis on anatomy, Stephen Roger Peck's Atlas of Human Anatomy is very clear and easy to understand, as a complement to Bridgman's sometimes... unclear drawings.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  13. The Following User Says Thank You to Serpian For This Useful Post:


  14. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Birth Place of the World, NYC
    Posts
    2,830
    Thanks
    2,627
    Thanked 1,044 Times in 681 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Serpian View Post
    I would just like to say that in addition to Bridgman and Loomis on anatomy, Stephen Roger Peck's Atlas of Human Anatomy is very clear and easy to understand, as a complement to Bridgman's sometimes... unclear drawings.
    Peck was my bible for a long minute!



    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  15. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,899 Times in 2,544 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    He he, do you find anatomy and perspective formulaic as opposed to observational?
    Anatomy and perspective are significantly different from color theory. The main difference is they are objective rather than subjective. Plus they are relatively "fixed", ie: an individual's proportions do not change according to the lighting, atmosphere, weather, etc. But yes, to answer your question, anatomy formula only takes one so far - an extremely foreshortened figure is not a certain number of heads high - you must rely on observation, not formula to accurately capture the pose.

    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    Understanding doesn't preclude observation: it greatly assists it.
    Absolutely. Some theory and knowledge is essential. I'm just saying in my experience understanding has come more from observation than from theory and formula.


    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    Anyway, the big G sent me a draft of part of his book for comment, and I can say that it promises to be an exceptonally reliable introduction to the basics of colour for painters. Any beginner who reads it first will certainly find huevaluechroma.com perfectly approachable.
    Yes, I think his book will become the new standard "must read", mainly because Jim's understanding comes from observation.
    Certainly meant no offense Briggsy - I respect how much you've put into your work. Just my opinion...and I think people are better off keeping things as simple as possible...especially when beginning their journey.

    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  16. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JeffX99 For This Useful Post:


  17. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,972
    Thanks
    1,331
    Thanked 1,923 Times in 757 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    There has not been, as yet, a book written that promotes understanding of what is unique about and peculiar to the vocabulary and grammar of painting. The formulas and 'tips' contained in these volumes are generally providing codes for replicating ways of building images.
    Its a situation rather like someone learning the guitar by memorising chord shapes in sequence to play their favourite songs without having any idea about the the grammar of harmony. It sounds like they know their instrument, but only if they are asked to play their party pieces.

    So, for example, in a book about landscape composition, all we are getting is a couple of generalised pointers about how to make one's efforts 'balance' by superimposing a vague template crudely sifted from some successful pictures in the past.
    'Knowledge' used in this fashion is in fact a prison.
    Understanding the engine behind these codes is what enables you to speak as an artist.
    Unfortunately, I know of no book that addresses this comprehensively. You have to find it by asking yourself some tough questions about what on earth it is you are doing, what it is for and why you are not trying to do it in any other, more expedient, way.

    I think this has something to do with what JeffX99 was meaning about learning most from observation. But by extension, I'm referring to the intense scrutiny of the fundamental means you employ as a plastic artist and thereby the understanding of what belongs only to this means and is not common to anything else.
    When you discover this, all else follows in the beat of a heart.

    Last edited by Chris Bennett; April 24th, 2010 at 08:12 AM.
    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  18. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Chris Bennett For This Useful Post:


  19. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,972
    Thanks
    1,331
    Thanked 1,923 Times in 757 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I've just thought of a book that, whilst it won't answer the OP's stated requirements is one of the profoundest books on colour I have ever come across. I read it many years ago as an art student and it opened doors that may have remained closed to me forever had I not been told about it.
    It is Adrian Stokes' "Colour and Form".

    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  20. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Chris Bennett For This Useful Post:


  21. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Posts
    34
    Thanks
    7
    Thanked 22 Times in 8 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0

    Wink

    Hey everybody, thanks so much for your responses! Lot to look into.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    I've just thought of a book that, whilst it won't answer the OP's stated requirements is one of the profoundest books on colour I have ever come across. I read it many years ago as an art student and it opened doors that may have remained closed to me forever had I not been told about it.
    It is Adrian Stokes' "Colour and Form".
    Thanks for your in depth responses Chris...that's a pretty glowing review of Stokes's Color and Form... I'll definitely have to look into it. Actually, the way you talk about it really reminds me of how some people mention how Harold Speed's Practice and Science of Drawing really opened their eyes to things they never saw before.

    I agree with a lot of what you said on composition, and the fact that most books are a list of guidelines superimposed onto successful images.... It never helps to know a rule if you don't understand why the rule works, which I think is the reason Bridgman's instruction on really understanding how to construct the figure is so revered.

    Even so I've never really had any instruction on composition, so i think perhaps even a mediocre text on the subject could help me.

    As long as you don't let supposed "rules" become either a crutch or a prison, it can certainly be beneficial to know them. With that said, has anyone read Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts, or Pictorial Composition by Henry Rankin Poore? Both have very strong reviews on Amazon, and I'm wondering if they'd be worth a look.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  22. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Posts
    34
    Thanks
    7
    Thanked 22 Times in 8 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    @briggsy: wow, I just saw your ebook thread. what an incredible resource, AND I see it includes the full original version of the Henry Poore book I mentioned. guess that'll be as good a place for me to start as any

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  23. #14
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    824
    Thanks
    187
    Thanked 1,379 Times in 326 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    You're welcome Jussslic. Dow's beautiful book Composition recommended by dpaint is also there a bit further down the page.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Just my opinion...and I think people are better off keeping things as simple as possible...especially when beginning their journey.
    I know you won't believe this but I also believe in keeping it simple, I just think that there's a lot more to "it" than you seem to realise at the moment. (Jim G also believes in keeping it simple, but even his glossary of colour terms alone has about 150 entries and runs to 22 manuscript pages.) Once you take on board the objective aspects of light and colour you can understand those differences in appearance caused by lighting and atmosphere in just the same way as perspective and anatomy help you to understand observed differences in appearance caused by action and viewpoint. And I repeat, understanding assists observation.

    I'm extremely pleased that Jim G is doing his book because I know that a lot of people will read it who would never engage properly with huevaluechroma.com, and so I'm certain it will do a lot more than I can to demolish conventional simplistic approaches to teaching colour. I'm hoping that after reading it you'll discover that your attitude towards my website will have shifted.

    David

    Last edited by briggsy@ashtons; April 24th, 2010 at 09:33 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  24. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to briggsy@ashtons For This Useful Post:


  25. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Birth Place of the World, NYC
    Posts
    2,830
    Thanks
    2,627
    Thanked 1,044 Times in 681 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I like your website.

    I understood it and thought it not very complicated.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  26. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Belgium
    Posts
    653
    Thanks
    124
    Thanked 230 Times in 117 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I would stay away from huevaluechroma.com myself - makes the subject far more complicated than necessary and is formulaic in approach as opposed to observational.
    Complicated at first maybe, but once you understand, color becomes suddenly much easier.
    Seeying and understanding go hand in hand in my oppinion.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  27. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,899 Times in 2,544 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    I know you won't believe this but I also believe in keeping it simple, I just think that there's a lot more to "it" than you seem to realise at the moment.

    Once you take on board the objective aspects of light and colour you can understand those differences in appearance caused by lighting and atmosphere in just the same way as perspective and anatomy help you to understand observed differences in appearance caused by action and viewpoint. And I repeat, understanding assists observation.

    I'm hoping that after reading it you'll discover that your attitude towards my website will have shifted.

    David
    Maybe so - I'll certainly revisit HVC after reading Jim's book. Personally I've just never found color that complex or challenging - I guess it comes down to that not being my main interest or focus in my painting.

    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  28. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    1,008
    Thanks
    175
    Thanked 696 Times in 292 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    The problem with a lot of the "simpler" color theory is that in practice it actually makes things more complicated for the user by misrepresenting the facts.

    When it gets down to it, color is about the physics of how light interacts with surfaces and how the human eye and brain respond to such interactions. I don't think anyone would say that physics or the human eye/brain are simple- why would color be simple?

    And that's not even getting into substance uncertainty when mixing physical paint.

    The good news is that after you know the facts things really do get a lot simpler in practice, and it becomes far easier to learn by observation.

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  29. #19
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    824
    Thanks
    187
    Thanked 1,379 Times in 326 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    Good to hear, JeffX99, and thanks guys, good points and always very pleasing to know that people get what I'm on about!

    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  30. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    866
    Thanks
    450
    Thanked 337 Times in 227 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I've always liked how Fletcher presents the material. Follow my link for more. Its posted in its entirety here on the forums.

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    "Talent is a word found in the mouth of the lazy to dismiss the hard work of those who have achieved."
    Anatomy Thread
    Sketchbook
    Interested in learning more about color? Read this!
    Fletcher:Color Control
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

  31. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    305
    Thanks
    419
    Thanked 207 Times in 119 Posts
    Follows
    0
    Following
    0
    I bought Kimberly Elam´s book :Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition
    http://www.amazon.com/reader/1568982...pt#reader-link

    I found it pretty helpful for me , since she used a lot of different examples from nature to the Barcelona chair to explain the different terms from proportion , golden triangles to Design and Composition. It´s a good overview ,especially when you also start to analyze pictures from you favorite artist for example .. Imo

    wow the site huevaluechroma.com , is really good , didn´t saw it before thanks!

    Last edited by Cerasela; April 26th, 2010 at 06:29 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote  

Members who have read this thread: 3

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •