Archive for category Subject: Materials

Jackson’s Materials Guide

I’ve seen art materials catalogues and, of course, the “what you need” sections without which no art instruction book would be complete. What I haven’t seen, however, is anything quite like this. Yes, there was the Ralph Meyer guide, but he was an analytical chemist and The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques is substantial, exhaustive and, frankly, a bit exhausting.

From an art materials supplier, you’d expect something a bit like an augmented catalogue, but this avoids that route (and pitfall). The information isn’t routinely brand-specific and is very thorough, including properties, uses and hazards (the table relating to solvents is a potential life-saver). Paints, brushes, papers, canvases, printing materials and frames all get a look-in and there are also some useful reviews and feature articles. You’ll be pointed at Jackson’s website, of course, but the branding is quite subtle and certainly not intrusive. The whole thing has a defiantly independent feel to it, which is one of the reasons it’s here.

The best bit? It’s free. You can view it online or order a printed copy here and you should. Even if it was priced, I’d say “buy it”.


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Drawing and Painting – materials & techniques for contemporary artists || Kate Wilson

This is a really rather interesting idea, because it takes the standard tools and mediums section that prefaces almost every instructional book and expands it to a thoroughly logical conclusion.

On one level, it’s a guide, albeit a very thorough one, to the tools of the artist’s trade, while at the same time relating them to the creative process. As Kate pertinently says in her introduction, “Mastery of the craft will not make you into a great artist, but having a feel for materials does seem to be a part of the creative process.” Actually, I think she’s underselling herself there because every half-decent artist I’ve ever known just loves getting their hands both literally and figuratively dirty. And you can never get them out of an art shop!

So, if rooting around in the paintbox is your idea of heaven, then this is going to be like a recipe book for a cook. You won’t be able to put it down. There’s more, though, because, apart from the artist profiles that pop up throughout, there’s also a substantial section at the end on “The Bigger Picture” that looks at things like composition, perspective, abstraction and even the Fibonacci series and the golden section (I know, me neither). This is the bit where it all stops being technical and gets creative, but I like the way it doesn’t also get vague and relates the two so that you really do understand how the medium can, if not become the message, at least formulate it.

The other thing is the simply huge variety of contributors and illustrations, mostly well outside the usual run-of-the-mill cast. This provides a sense of true discovery throughout the book.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

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