It has only been in the last year or so that I’ve seriously got stuck into art again, but I have found a few books that have been very helpful. I think most of them would have something to offer whether you’re a beginning artist or a professional. I’ll add to this page as I find more useful art books.
Paint a Landscape in Minutes: Watercolour Course by Keith Fenwick
For anyone wanting to learn to paint landscapes in watercolours, this book would be a good place to start. It includes sections on all the important topics like skies, mountains, water, forests and atmosphere and light, as well as section about buildings and other structures. Each section includes a selection of colours best suited to that subject and useful techniques to achieve different effects.
Coloured Pencil Painting Bible by Alyona Nickelsen
This book focuses on using coloured pencils to create photo-realistic drawings. The demonstrations are mostly (if not all) of still life subjects like fruits and plants, and the artist traces many of them from photos instead of drawing them freehand. That said, there are large sections on composition, lighting and shading, colour values and rendering difficult objects such as ice, fire, grass and reflective metal. Required materials are covered in great detail, as are a number of colouring, layering and blending techniques to help you get the best effects from your coloured pencils.
Wildlife Landscapes You Can Paint by Wilson Bickford
For the beginning acrylic artist, this book is ideal. It contains ten simple yet pleasing landscape scenes, each presented as a demonstration that shows every stage of the painting so that the artist can follow along. Each scene shows what colours should be used and how to mix them (all ten paintings can be completed using just five colours), as well as more detailed demonstrations of some aspects within the scene (such as different types of trees or painting water). They are fairly basic, but they’re a good starting point for someone new to acrylics (or to painting in general).
Drawing Made Easy: Dogs and Puppies by Nolon Stacey
Though it focuses on canines, this book is a useful reference for animal drawings in general. As well as showing how to draw different types of fur, it shows how to draw paws, noses and eyes in detail, with several step by step demonstrations of a dog illustration in progress. It also discusses important topics such as composition, expression, perspective and background in relation to the drawing at hand. The artist in this book uses only graphite pencils, but many of the principles explored here could be applied using any medium.
Feel free to suggest any other useful art books in the comments.