Acrylic Painting Techniques: How to Master the Medium of Our Age, by Stephen Quiller, is a juicy and inspiring book for acrylic painting enthusiasts.
Many people know Stephen Quiller for his color wheel and color theory. (If you don’t, this book may be an especially happy discovery.)
In this book, Mr. Quiller applies his brilliant use of color and contrast to acrylic painting. It’s a much-needed addition to any acrylic painter’s library.
The illustrations alone are worth the cover price. Quiller really gets color.
Many artists have difficulty working with acrylic paints because the colors can be so vivid. Toning them down so they look like oil paints… well, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
A better approach is to make use of those unique, acrylic colors and turn them into the asset that they can be.
In Chapter 1, Mr. Quiller talks about acrylic painting supplies. This isn’t the same old list of supplies; he takes you into the realms of supplies and features you may not have known existed.
Then, he turns the usual book design on its side and answers the most popular questions in a Q&A format.
With that out of the way, the author summarizes his color wheel and the best color combinations — using a limited palette — to achieve various effect.
After that, he talks about creating textures with acrylics. That’s another area in which acrylic paints excel, and oil paints have no chance of competing.
In other words, this book isn’t about making your acrylic paintings look like they might be oil paintings — though you could use Quiller’s approach towards that goal — it’s about making the most of acrylic paints’ unique benefits.
Though I generally paint with oils, I keep this book for the color ideas. Since the book focuses heavily on the “show, don’t tell” approach, I can just flip through the pages and find answers and inspiration… regardless of my painting media.
And, when I do take out my acrylic paints — usually for mixed media work but sometimes for plein air paintings as I travel — this book is invaluable.
In my opinion, this book belongs in the basic library of any serious acrylic landscape painter.
The Art of Abstract Painting by Rolina van Vliet is an excellent guide for any painter who’s interested in moving in abstract directions.
It’s especially helpful if you’re stuck in realism and want to break out with more juicy, vivid or personal statements.
For me, this book’s interior illustrations are interesting but not inspiring. In fact, I like the cover illustration far better than what’s inside.
However, I rate this book highly because of the information and inspiring text inside.
For example: On Page 36, van Vliet explains how to move from reality to abstraction with your work. Her six suggestions take the artist from gentle, “Leave out details” to extreme, reducing the entire work to a few outlines and shapes, or even composing the work on your own.
Frankly, that’s brilliant. No matter how stuck I am in realism (or Tonalism or Impressionism), this list includes something that will move me out of my painting rut.
Generally, I don’t buy a book like this unless the interior photos are juicy and inspiring. This book is an exception. The illustrations show a wide range of approaches to abstract paintings. While few will be inspired by all of them, you’re likely to find at least one or two (or more) that you’ll look at and say, “Yes! That’s the kind of art I want to create!”
For anyone trying to wrap their brain around what makes abstract paintings abstract — and what makes them work — this book may be all you need to take your art from realism to abstract, almost effortlessly.
The Art of Abstract Painting offers over 160 pages of information, tips and inspiration.
I recommend it if you’ve been working with abstracts and haven’t a clue why they’re working for you (I’ve gone through phases like that) or if you’d like to expand your work into the field of abstracts.