Color Choices – Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory, by Stephen Quiller is a visually inspiring book for painters, especially landscape and still life painters.
Does it actually make “color sense out of color theory”? I’m not so sure, but I’m also not sure if that matters.
Stephen Quiller has created his own color wheel, and that helps to demonstrate the qualities of color. However, if you’re new to painting or color theory, just focus on the outer wheel, not the additions towards the center.
It will probably show you how the color wheel really works.
With Quiller’s color wheel, the variations — cool to warm, and one color to the next — can make more sense than the color wheel they tried to teach you in first grade art class.
For people working with dyes, this book could be pure gold.
However, this book was (mostly) written for fine art painters.
Almost unique among art book authors, Quiller lists specific colors (by brand name) so you can work with the exact same colors he does… and hopefully achieve similar results.
I’ll admit that, though I’ve owned my (now paint-stained) copy for over ten years, I’ve never read the whole thing. I’m a real “show me, don’t tell me” kind of person.
But that’s something Quiller does pretty well: He’s included a variety of truly lovely paintings — in a variety of painting media — that illustrate different limited palettes (using just a few, carefully-chosen colors) and their results.
The text…? Well, if you just love listening to lectures and you can’t get enough information about color theory, you may devour every word in this book.
I just wasn’t that interested. Maybe I will be, someday.
And frankly, for those of us who wear reading glasses, the text is fairly small to accommodate the spaces around the large, lavish and juicy examples throughout the book. So, you’d have to really want to read the text.
I guess I’m just not a color theory enthusiast. I want to see what colors look like, against each other. Fortunately, Quiller has lots of examples, from monochromatic paintings to pastels to rich, crayon-box colors made more vivid with acrylics.
In fact, most of Quiller’s illustrations feature watercolors or acrylics. If you’re working in either of those media, this book may be especially useful.
If you’re new to acrylic painting, I suggest Quiller’s Acrylic Painting Techniques, instead. It includes an overview of his approach to color and — for some artists — that may be enough.
On the other hand, if you’re an advanced artist working in other media — including collage — Quiller’s Color Choices book may be the resource you’ve needed to explore new color combinations and approaches.
- Lots of detailed color theory: history, examples, and illustrations.
- Lavish illustrations using a wide variety of palettes and approaches to color.
- Brand names and exact color names of products make it easy to replicate Quiller’s effects.
- Very useful for teachers from middle school through university level art. You’ll find some great inspirations for your lesson plans.
- Despite the vivid book cover, I’d categorize most of Quiller’s interior illustrations as “pretty” and “calming,” not deeply energizing.
- Text reads like a university textbook… which it might be.
- For me, much of Quiller’s work succeeds due to composition more than color, though color is often a key element.
Though my review may sound a little ho-hum, I really do keep this book within reach in my studio.
If you’ve wanted to delve deeply into color theory, this is an important book to own, if only for the unique Quiller Color Wheel that folds out.
In addition, if your goal is to paint pretty watercolors and landscapes with a sense of profound serenity and deep beauty, Quiller’s book is excellent.
Collage, Assemblage and Altered Art by Diane Maurer-Mathison is a good book for a school, the library of an art organization or club, or a public library.
It’s a thorough book about collage and assemblage, and it demonstrates altered art as well. Though readers may not be able to find the exact items used in this project book, I think the ideas can be adapted to other materials, if your brain works in that direction.
However, if you want a by-the-numbers approach to learning collage, assemblage or altered art, the projects may not always work for you.
In addition, I can’t rave about this book without reservations.
I like the book cover. (Well, mostly.)
I wanted to be really excited about this book. I even read it twice, months apart.
But… it’s not an exciting book. Not for me, anyway.
Sure, there’s something for everyone in its pages, but also something to bore everyone… if they’re at all familiar with this field of art.
For me, the clue was the vintage photo with the clown’s hat (or dunce’s cap) on the cover. That was a cliche about ten years ago. At this point, that imagery can be annoying to old-timers (like me), but it might still charm people who are discovering collage and assemblage for the first time.
I don’t want to sound as if I hate this book. I don’t. I actually like it, but not enough to own it.
It’s the kind of book that teachers will love because it’s a good, general reference. Almost any student can find something inspiring in its pages.
Like most of Maurer-Mathison’s books, this is a top-quality approach to a broad, art-related subject. She touches on every major point that someone will want to know about, if they’re exploring collage, assemblage and altered art.
My problem is, I wanted more extravagance from Collage, Assemblage and Altered Art. I wanted the author — and the art in this book — to go out on a limb, try daring and exciting things, and generally inspire me. I’m not sure if the publisher was being conservative, or what, but — for me — the exuberance was missing.
Compare this book with Altered Curiosities by Jane Ann Wynn; for me, Wynn’s book will win, nine times out of ten.
That said, I don’t think Maurer-Mathison intended it as anything intense or controversial. It’s not quite a textbook, but… it’s a lot like one.
If you’re buying books for a public library or a school, get this book. That’s an easy choice, because your patrons will enjoy this book tremendously. It’ll be taken out of the library often, and recommended to others.
However, if it’s for your own bookshelf, I can’t give it the same endorsement.
Of course, you should take a look at it, but I recommend browsing through it at a local bookstore, instead of buying it sight-unseen at Amazon.
Collage, Assemblage and Altered Art by Diane Maurer-Mathison
Herman the Jester and the ABC’s of Art, by Rafael Filion, is a tremendously useful book for teaching art theory to very young children.
It’s ideal as the basis of a daily or weekly art lesson. It’s also a great preparation for taking young children to art museums. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve seen, for that purpose.
Each letter of the alphabet is matched to an art-related word. The word — like the book — is in English, but it’s also provided in Spanish, German, and French. Each letter is also represented with Sign language. This expands the use of the book in any classroom setting.
The illustrations in the book are delightful. They aren’t too intimidating for young children, and will definitely appeal to them. They’re colorful and fun.
The brief definition of each art-related word will give teachers enough to work with, to teach effectively. They’re even more useful if the teacher spends a little time online or with art books, learning more about the subject to explain it in more depth.
I especially like that the book includes several complex art concepts, and it doesn’t “talk down” to children.
This kind of book is ideal for a homeschool group, teaching children at multiple grade levels.
For teaching a class, or reading to more than a very small group of children, larger illustrations will be helpful. The examples in the book are too small to be seen beyond the second row in a classroom setting.
However, many school and public libraries have excellent books to supplement what’s in “…The ABC’s of Art.” (Every book has its limits, and this one addresses that issue well.)
The price of the book reflects the full-color pages, but it may be a little price-y for a teacher or homeschooler who is taking this out of his or her personal budget.
However, this is a very useful book for a department, school library, or public library to purchase. It will be greatly appreciated by teachers.
As a starting point for a daily or weekly art theory lesson, this is a book that teachers have needed for a long time.
- Every page is in color, and has a lot of visual appeal.
- The terminology doesn’t “talk down” to children.
- Helpful tips make it easy for teachers to share this information without an art background.
- The price of this large paperback book isn’t competitive with some art books from larger publishers.
- Images of the art being described are small for students to see from a distance.
(Aside from the price, I had to look hard to make a second negative comment.)
If you are buying books for a public or school library, I think this is a must-buy. If you frequent your public or school library, recommend this book as a useful resource for teachers and parents.
With Glorious Glues! Art with Adhesives, art Teacher Paula Guhin has put together a wonderful little book that showcases the many uses of glue in art making.
The lessons are well written and easy to follow. Tips to evaluate the artwork are included at the end of each lesson. Both 2-D and 3-D projects are included.
A chapter with simple recipes for assorted pastes, paint and clay is included as well as a glossary of terms. Black and white photo are included throughout the book.
There are some great ideas presented here to encourage creativity and experimentation. She also inspires students to incorporate the elements of art into their work.
- The projects are low cost. Anyone can afford them.
- Most projects can be used for all ages. Older students can incorporate some of the techniques into more advanced art projects.
- The projects are fun and creative.
- Many of the projects, as written, are too easy for high school students.
- All of the illustrations are black and white.
Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters, by Mary Ann Kohl and Kim Solga (Website: BrightRing.com)
Starting with Giotto and continuing on through current artists, Ms. Kohl and Ms. Solga have created multiple art lessons based on individual artist.
Each lesson includes a very brief biography, a list of materials and an easy to follow process.
All the illustrations are black and white. They include student work, work of the featured artist and some are illustrations by the authors.
All the lessons have a key that designates their art technique, the artist style, amount of planning and prep and the experience level of the student.
Most lessons are designed for elementary students, but with some adjustments, many could be used at the middle school level.
Lessons include both 2-D and 3-D projects.
The last chapter has additional games and activities. An extensive resource guide and glossary is also included in the book.
- Lessons are art history based
- Lessons are well organized by date and style
- Book is geared for elementary aged students only
- Color illustrations would be helpful in appreciating the artists’ work