The Figurative Artist’s Handbook: A Contemporary Guide to Figure Drawing, Painting, and Composition
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An Authoritative, Comprehensive Guide for Contemporary Figurative Artists
At a time when renewed interest in figurative art is surging throughout the art world, author Robert Zeller presents The Figurative Artist’s Handbook—the first comprehensive guide to figure drawing and painting to appear in decades.
Illustrated with Zeller’s own exquisite drawings and paintings as well as works by nearly 100 historical and contemporary figurative art masters, the handbook is also a treasure trove of the finest figurative art of the past and the present day. Included are Michelangelo, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Gustav Klimt, Edward Hopper, Andrew Loomis, Andrew Wyeth, Lucian Freud, Odd Nerdrum, Eric Fischl, Bo Bartlett, Steven Assael, John Currin, and many others.
Original and thoroughly modern in his approach, Zeller brings together three figure-drawing methods long thought to be at odds, synthesizing these seemingly incompatible techniques to achieve a cohesive and complete understanding of the human figure. Although all three methods underlie contemporary fine-arts practice and education, no artist’s handbook has ever combined them before:
The Study of Gesture (Disegno): Rooted in the Italian Mannerist style of the 16th and 17th centuries, the gestural method emphasizes life, rhythm, and movement in the human body.
The Structural Approach: A mainstay of 20th- and 21st-century art instruction, this method applies an architectural perspective to the body, using a block conception for anatomically sound, solid figures.
The Atelier Method: Based on the training provided by 18th- and 19th-century art academies, the atelier approach creates sensual, smooth renderings based on meticulous study of the figure’s surface morphology in light and shadow.
Covering all the basics as well as many advanced techniques, The Figurative Artist’s Handbook is aimed at both students and experienced artists. A practical, how-to guide, it provides in-depth step-by-step instruction and—rare among figure-drawing books—features sections on composition, portraiture, and painting. Chapters on creativity and on using a sketchbook help readers hone their artistic vision and evolve ideas from the initial inspiration to the fully developed work. Also included is an extensive section highlighting the great movements in figurative art throughout history—from ancient Egypt and Greece to the present.
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