Books I have read
I have to admit, I find it difficult to get into non fiction books – give me a good psychological thriller and I’ll read it all day, however, I have applied a concerted effort and am starting to win the battle. I will add to this meagre list with more enthusiasm from now on.
101 Things to Learn in Art School by Kit White (MIT Press 2011)
I picked this up in the Royal Academy shop, I think after the David Hockney, The Bigger Picture Exhibition. This is a brilliant little book, one I can dip in and out of easily, in fact, it’s next to my bed so I can do just that. This book encouraged me to join the OCA as it made me realise how little I knew and how much I had (and still have) to learn. A few little gems that have stuck in my brain “65 – A painting should be satisfying at a distance of both twelve inches and twelve feet”, “30 – For every hour of making, spend an hour of looking and thinking”, and “46 – Embrace the “happy accident””. In fact, I am going to re-read it cover to cover as more and more of it is becoming relevant to now!
Drawing Now: Eight Propositions by Laura Hoptman (The Museum of Modern Art 2002)
This is on the essential reading list of Drawing 1, and this added to my block of reading it I think. However, over the last couple of weeks, I have really got stuck into it. I have to say the first three chapters were a little dry to me with a few sparks, having said that, once I got to the Drawing Happiness chapter I felt more in tune. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed it and got really involved from then on. I found the Mental Map and Metaphysics section peaked my interest regarding the personal voice aspect that we are to try to develop in ourselves. Looking at self portraiture in a more abstract and personality influenced way helped me see how I could put myself into my work more.
John Singer Sargent – Painting Friends with an Essay by Barbara Dayer Gallati (National Portrait Gallery Publications Copyright 2015)
Admittedly, I bought this book as a cheaper substitute for the catalogue accompanying the John Singer Sargent – Portraits of Artists and Friends exhibition held at the National Portrait Gallery 2015. It is however, still very informative and does have a large number of the paintings displayed in the exhibition reproduced throughout. The essay written by Barbara Dayer Gallati at the beginning of the book is informative and readable, succinctly describing Sargent’s life, influences, friends and supporters. I get the impression that, although always categorised as American, Sargent was truly multi-national, intelligent, a formidable linguist, well-educated and an opinionated man, not to mention extremely charming when he deemed necessary. I enjoyed the snippets of background that accompanied each reproduction of his paintings and the personalised accounts of his relationship with each portrait subject. One thing though, that really became clear with this book, is that to truly appreciate the skill, life and soul of Sargent’s paintings, they must be viewed in real life.