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The definitive guide to painting and drawing
First published in the United States
in 2014 by Chronicle Books LLC
Text and compilation copyright © 2005, 2013
Photographs and illustrations copyright © 1995, 1999, 2005
All artworks and paintings copyright © 1995, 1999, 2005
by the individual artists.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in a
ny form without written permission from the publisher.
ISBN 978-1-4521-3722-3 (epub, mobi)
The Library of Congress has previously cataloged this title under
ISBN: 978-1-4521-2716-3 (pb)
Page 10 constitutes a continuation of the copyright page.
Chronicle Books LLC
680 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Using your medium
All kinds of techniques
can be applied to drawing
or painting any subject,
but it is often helpful to let
your medium suggest an
approach. Using a pencil may
lead you naturally to smallscale drawings that depend
on a precise outline of the
figure and sensitive detailing
of smaller shapes (left).
1/ SUPPORTS 12
2/ DRAWING MEDIA 36
3/ PAINTING MEDIA 62
4/ WHERE SHALL I START? 122
5/ DRAWING & SKETCHING 136
6/ PAINTING TECHNIQUES 160
7/ COLOR & COMPOSITION 210
8/ WHAT SHALL I PAINT? 234
9/ THE STUDIO 342
10/ GALLERY OF ART 356
Renoir once observed that “painting isn’t just daydreaming, it is primarily a manual
skill, and one has to be a good workman.” Too often it is forgotten that painting is a
craft as well as an art – and a difficult craft to master, at that.
At first sight, dipping a brush into paint and applying it to a surface seems easy
enough. But there are traps for the unskilled: an inadequately prepared support may
warp or buckle; the wrong support can adversely affect the way the paint handles; illchosen colors turn muddy when mixed together; poor-quality or fugitive colors will
fade in time. By understanding the materials and techniques at his or her disposal, the
artist can avoid such pitfalls and increase the pleasures of making art.
In recent decades, art schools have tended to dismiss basic skills and techniques as
“irrelevant,” and they have been neglected in favor of “freedom of expression.” In so
doing, tutors have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, for without a thorough
technical grasp of materials and methods, students of art have no real freedom to
express their ideas – it is like asking someone with no knowledge or concept of
grammar or syntax to write a novel.
This is not to imply that a good craftsperson is necessarily a good artist. Manual
dexterity and technical know-how are meaningless if an artist’s work is deficient in
thought and feeling. Along with a learning hand, one must develop a seeing eye – and
for many people, this is the most difficult part. In the desire to produce a “finished”
picture, the impatient student often overlooks the two things that are fundamental to
all art: drawing and observation. It is vital to train your eyes by really looking at the
world around you, and to keep sketching and drawing all the time. When you draw
what you see, you develop your powers of observation and analysis. Your mind absorbs
many details – for instance, the way light and shadow create form, how tone and color
alter with distance – enabling you to draw a surprising amount from memory and from
The purpose of this manual, then, is twofold. First, by providing an in-depth
examination of the skills and techniques involved, not only in painting and drawing
but also in preparing a support and in choosing and mixing colors, it endeavors to
encourage a pride in the craftsmanship needed to produce a work of art. Second, by
using a wide range of work by respected professional artists as a source of inspiration, it
aims to help you develop your personal vision of the world and to find your own voice
in interpreting that vision.
10 / ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Dr Sally Bulgin
Editor and owner of The
Artist and Leisure Painter
magazines. Author of
several art instruction
Author of several art
This book is the work of many hands, and is the result of
several years’ planning and preparation. The designers,
editors and producers are indebted to all who have contributed
and have given freely of their time and expertise. Our thanks
go to the following:
Art and Technical
David Curtis, ROI,
John Denahy, NEAC
With special thanks to:
Ken Howard, RA, ROI,
Winsor & Newton
Grateful thanks also
go to the following
artists, who generously
loaned samples of
materials, artworks and
transparencies, and who
provided much time,
advice and assistance:
Joan Elliott Bates
N.A.Manual - 036-061.OK 16/2/05 10:48 Page 54
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS / 11
TITLE:WC1234-NEW ARTISTS MANUAL
Elsie Dinsmore Popkin
Dennis Mathew Rooney
Art Space Gallery,
Chris Beetles Gallery,
Browse and Darby,
The Fine Art Society,
Fischer Fine Art, London
Kentmere House Gallery,
Lizardi / Harp Gallery,
Museum of Modern Art,
National Gallery, London
New Academy Gallery,
New Grafton Gallery,
On Line Gallery,
Redfern Gallery, London
Brian Sinfield Gallery,
Tate Gallery, London
The Artist magazine
Bird & Davis
Ken Bromley’s Perfect
R. K. Burt & Co.
L. Cornelisson & Son
Falkiner Fine Papers
A. Levermore & Co.
David Lloyd Picture
Martin/F. Weber Co.
Osborne & Butler
Philip & Tracey
Raphael & Berge
C. Robertson & Co.
St Cuthbert’s Paper Mills
Tate Gallery Publications
Tollit & Harvey
Winsor & Newton
by Paul Chave and Ben
Other photography by:
Acco-Rexel Ltd; John
Ltd; Ikea Ltd; Simon
Jennings; Raphael &
Berge SA; and Shona
Before starting a painting or drawing, it is worth spending
some time choosing and preparing the surface, or support,
as this will have a great bearing on which medium you
use, and the effects that you are able to achieve with it.
Although the range of canvases, panels and papers may
seem somewhat bewildering at first glance, finding the
right support for your purpose is not very difficult when
you understand the properties of each one. A properly
prepared support will greatly increase the longevity of a
work and, in addition, you can derive a lot of pleasure and
satisfaction from this aspect of the artist’s work.
14 / SUPPORTS
In painting, canvas is still the most widely used of all supports. Stretched-andprimed canvas is taut but flexible, and has a unique receptiveness to the stroke of
the brush. The two most common fibers for making canvas are linen and cotton,
although burlap and synthetic fibers are also used. Each of these fibers differs in
terms of durability, evenness of grain, ease of stretching and cost.
Linen is considered the best canvas because it has a
fine, even grain that is free of knots and is a pleasure
to paint on. Although expensive, it is very durable and,
once stretched on a frame, retains its tautness. Goodquality linen has a tight weave of even threads which
will persist through several layers of primer and paint;
avoid cheap linen, which is loosely woven.
The weight of canvas is
measured in grams per
square metre (gsm) or
ounces per square yard
(oz). The higher the
number, the greater density
of threads. Better-grade
cotton canvas, known as
cotton duck, comes in
410gsm (12oz) and 510gsm
(15oz) grades. Lighterweight canvases of between
268gsm (8oz) and 410gsm
(12oz) are recommended
for practice only.
allow it to dry.
Preparing linen canvas
The weaving process makes raw linen canvas prone to
shrinking and warping when it is stretched, and it has
a tendency to resist the application of size. However,
both these problems can be solved by temporarily
stretching the canvas, wetting it and allowing it to dry.
Then remove the canvas from the stretcher bars and
re-stretch it; this second stretching creates a more even
tension across the cloth.
A good-quality 410–510gsm (12–15oz) cotton duck
is the best alternative to linen, and is much cheaper.
Cotton weaves of below 410gsm (12oz) are fine for
experimenting with, but they stretch much more
than linen and, once stretched, they are susceptible
to fluctuations in tension in either humid or dry
conditions. The weave of cheap cotton quickly becomes
obscured by layers of primer and paint, leaving the
surface rather flat and characterless.
Popular artist’s canvases
1 Ready-primed cotton-rayon mix
2 Ready-primed cotton duck
3 Ready-primed artist’s linen
4 Superfine artist’s linen
5 Cotton duck
6 Flax canvas
7 Cotton and jute twill
You can buy ready-primed and
stretched supports which consist
of a piece of canvas mounted on
a stretcher. These supports are
convenient, but are expensive when
compared to the cost of stretching,
sizing and priming your own canvas.
SUPPORTS / 15
Burlap is inexpensive, but has a very
coarse weave and requires a lot of
priming. It is liable to become brittle and
lifeless in time.
Synthetic fabrics, such as rayon
and polyester, are now used in the
manufacture of artists’ canvas. These
canvases come ready-prepared with
acrylic primer and are worth trying out,
as they are exceptionally strong and
durable, flexible but stable, and resistant
to chemical reaction.
If you use bold, heavy brushstrokes,
canvas with a coarsely woven texture
is the most suitable. A smooth,
finely woven texture is more suited
to fine, detailed brushwork. Another
consideration is the scale of your painting.
A fine-grained canvas is best for small
works, as the texture of coarse-grained
canvas may be too insistent and detract
from the painting.
Ready-primed canvas comes prepared
with either an oil- or an acrylic-based
primer. It is better to use an oil-primed
canvas for oil painting and leave acrylicprimed ones for acrylic paintings, but you
can use an acrylic-primed canvas for oils
if you paint thinly and on a small scale.
Canvas may be single- or doubleprimed. The latter is more expensive; it
has a denser surface, but it is less flexible
than single-primed canvas.
Before buying lengths of canvas,
work out how you will divide up the
fabric to make as many pictures
as possible with the minimum of
wastage (canvas rolls come in
several widths). When doing your
calculations, don’t forget to allow a
50mm (2in) overlap all round each
picture for attaching the canvas to
Acrylic and oil don’t mix
Most of the ready-prepared
canvases and boards available in art
shops are primed for use with oil or
acrylic paint. If you paint in acrylics,
take care not to buy supports which
are prepared specifically for oils.
The linseed oil in the primer repels
acrylics, and the paint eventually
comes away from the support.
Remember to add a minimum of
50mm (2in) of canvas all round, for
when you attach it to the stretcher.
The formal elegance of this abstract painting is enhanced by the subtle texture
of the linen canvas, which appears through the thin layers of oil paint.
Oil on canvas
25 x 30cm (10 x 12in)
S TRETCHING CANVAS 16
SIZING FOR OILS 22
OIL PAINTS 64
ACRYLIC PAINTS 110
16 / SUPPORTS
Stretching your own canvas not only offers
a saving in cost, but also means that you can
prepare a canvas to your own specifications.
Wooden stretcher bars are sold in most art-supply
stores and come in different lengths. They have premitered corners with slot-and-tenon joints. The face
side of each stretcher bar is bevelled to prevent the
inner edge of the stretcher creating “ridge” lines on
the canvas. Stretcher bars come in varying widths and
thicknesses, depending on the size of support you wish
to make. For a work under 60 × 60cm (24 × 24in), use
45 × 16mm (1¾ × 5⁄8in) stretcher bars. For larger works,
use 57 × 18mm (2¼ × ¾in) bars.
A support that is larger than
80 x 100cm (32 x 40in) will require
an extra crossbar between the two
longest sides, to support them
when the canvas contracts during
preparation, exerting a great deal
Cutting the canvas
Use pinking shears to cut
canvas; they avoid the need to
fold the edges over at the back
of the frame to prevent the
Using a hammer and non-rusting can
tacks to fix the canvas to the frame
is more economical than stapling,
but means more work.
You will also need eight wedges or “keys” for each
stretcher. These fit into slots on the inside of each
corner of the assembled stretcher; if the canvas sags at
a later date, the wedges can be driven in further with a
hammer to expand the corners and make the canvas
Canvas-straining pliers are especially useful for
stretching ready-primed canvases. They grip the fabric
firmly without any risk of tearing, and the lower jaw
is bevelled to give good leverage when pulling fabric
over a stretcher bar; the correct tension is achieved by
lowering the wrist as the canvas passes over the back of
Use a heavy-duty staple gun and non-rusting staples
with a depth of at least 10mm (3⁄8in) to fix the canvas
to the frame. You will also need a rule or tape, a pencil
and a pair of scissors to measure and cut out the canvas;
a wooden mallet to tap the stretcher bars together; and
a T-square to check that the frame is square (or you
can use a length of string to ensure that the diagonal
measurements between the corners are the same).
SIZING FOR OILS 22
Canvas-straining pliers stretch
ready-primed canvases firmly and
Slot the stretcher bars together,
checking that all the bevelled edges
are at the front. Tap the corners
gently with a wooden mallet or a
piece of wood for a close fit.
Checking for square
Use a T-square to check that all
the corners of the assembled frame
make right angles. Double-check
by measuring the diagonals with
an expanding tape measure or a
length of string; they should be of
equal length. If the frame is out
of true, correct it by gently tapping
the corners with the mallet.
SUPPORTS / 17
Stretching the canvas
Working on a large table or the floor, lay
the frame bevel-side down on a piece of
canvas. Cut the canvas to fit the frame,
allowing a margin of about 5Omm (2in)
all round for stapling (1).
Ensure that the warp and weft threads of
the canvas run parallel with the sides
of the frame. Fold the canvas round to
the back, and secure with a staple at the
center of one long stretcher bar (2).
(1) Cutting out the canvas
(2) Securing with the first staple
Reverse the frame, pull the canvas firmly
and evenly, and secure a staple opposite
the first one so that consistent straining
is obtained. You can use canvasstraining pliers, if necessary, to grip the
cloth and pull it taut over the frame (3).
If glue size is to be applied, the canvas
should be taut, but not as tight as a
drum, to allow for possible shrinkage.
Repeat the process on the two short
sides, so that one staple holds the
canvas to the center of each stretcher
bar (4). Check the parallel alignment of
the canvas weave.
(3) Tensioning the canvas
(4) Continuing to staple
Securing the canvas
Now add two more staples to each of
the four stretcher bars – one on either
side of the center staples – following
the sequence shown in the diagram (5).
The staples should be evenly spaced at
50mm (2in) intervals. Continue adding
pairs of staples to each side, gradually
working towards the corners. Insert
the final staples about 50mm (2in)
from each corner. Note that working
systematically out to the corners keeps
each side in step with the others.
Fastening the canvas completely on one
side before doing the next stretches the
The corners should always be finished
off neatly; if they are too bulky you will
have difficulty in framing the picture.
Pull the canvas tightly across one
corner of the stretcher, and fix with a
staple (6). Then tuck in the flaps on
either side smoothly and neatly (7) and
fix with staples. Take care not to staple
across the miter join, as this will make
it impossible to tighten the canvas later
on. Then fix the diagonally opposite
corner, followed by the remaining two.
If necessary, hammer the folds flat
to produce a neat corner (8). Finally,
insert two wedges in the slots provided
in each of the inner corners of the
frame; for correct fit, the longest side
of each wedge should lie alongside the
frame (9). Tap the wedges home very
lightly. The canvas is now ready for
sizing and priming.
(5) Stretching and stapling
(6) Fixing the first corner
(7) Folding the flaps
(8) The finished corner
(9) Inserting the wedges
BOARDS AND PANELS
18 / SUPPORTS
Man-made boards are cheaper to buy and prepare than
stretched canvas; they are also easier to store and transport,
and they will provide a more durable support than canvas.
Wood, for centuries the traditional support for oil and tempera painting,
can no longer be relied upon to be well seasoned, so it tends to split
and warp. It is also heavy to transport, and is now largely superseded by
economical composition boards.
Hardboard is inexpensive, strong and lightweight. It is available
in two forms: tempered and untempered. The tempered variety is
suitable for oil paints and primers, and it does not require sizing. For
acrylic painting, however, use untempered board, which has no greasy
residue. Sundeala board, grade “A,” is particularly recommended, as
it is lightweight and its surface is slightly more porous than standard
hardboard, giving a good key for size and primer.
Hardboard has one smooth and one rough side; the smooth side is
the one most often used. The rough side has a texture which resembles
coarse canvas, but it is only suitable for heavy impasto work, as the
texture is very mechanical and over-regular.
Hardboard is prone to warping, particularly in humid climates, but
this risk is reduced by priming the front, back and edges of the board.
Paintings larger than 45cm (18in) square should additionally be braced
with a framework of wood battening across the back (see right).
Before painting on the smooth side of hardboard,
lightly sand the surface to provide a key for the
application of primer.
Preparing a panel
To save time, an artist will periodically prepare a batch
of panels at once, all cut from one sheet of board. For
example, from a sheet of hardboard measuring
120 x 240cm (4 x 8ft) you can cut thirty-two
30.5 x 30.5cm (12 x 12in) panels, or thirty-eight
25.5 x 30.5cm (10 x 12in) panels. Most lumber yards
cut board for a small fee, or you can cut it yourself.
Mark out the sheet with a rule and pencil, making
sure all the corners are square, and saw along these
lines. Now “dress” the edges of each panel with a
sanding block to remove any burrs from the saw
cuts. To provide a key for the size or priming coat,
lightly sand the surface of each panel. Always use
a light touch; too much downward pressure may
create depressions in the board.
Plywood comes in various thicknesses and has smooth surfaces. It does
not crack, but it can warp. To keep the sheet stable, size and prime it on
the front, back and edges. Large sheets should be battened or “cradled”
by gluing wooden battens to the back of the board (see right).
Chipboard is made from wood particles compressed into a rigid panel
with resin glue. Thick panels of chipboard are a sound support as they
do not crack or warp and don’t require cradling, but they are heavy
to transport. Another disadvantage is that the corners and edges may
crumble, and, being absorbent, they need to be well primed.
Medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
MDF is made from pressed wood fiber and is available in a wide range
of thicknesses and in standard board sizes. It is a dense, heavy, but very
stable material and has fine, smooth surfaces. MDF is easily cut by hand
or with machine tools. Large, thin panels may need to be cradled to
help keep them flat (see right).
Cut two battens 50mm (2in) shorter than the width
of the board. Chamfer the ends and then secure the
battens to the back of the board, using wood glue for
man-made boards, or woodscrews for solid wood or
SUPPORTS / 19
Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec painted on
unprimed cardboard on occasions; they
used its warm brown color as a middle
tone, and produced a matt, pastellike effect on the absorbent surface.
However, a finished painting must
be framed under glass if it is to last.
Cardboard must be sized on both sides
and on the edges to prevent warping and
to stop impurities in the cardboard from
leaching into the paint.
Heavy mount board, or pasteboard, is
available in a range of colors and has a
smooth surface suitable for painting in
acrylics and gouache, particularly when
thin washes and glazes are applied. It
is also used for pen-and-ink drawing.
Henri de ToulouseLautrec (1864–1901)
Woman in Profile (detail)
Oil on cardboard
Always choose conservation board for
work that is intended to last, as this is
Watercolor board consists of a solid
core faced with good-quality watercolor
paper. The board provides extra strength
and stability, and dispenses with the
need for stretching paper prior to
painting. Check that the core of the
board, as well as the paper, is acid-free.
Watercolor boards also perform well
with pastel and charcoal.
Pastel paper mounted on board is
available in a range of sizes, colors and
finishes, from soft velour to a hightooth, abrasive surface.
Gesso panels are the traditional
support for egg-tempera painting.
They can also be used for oil, acrylic
and watercolor painting, but are
quite difficult and time-consuming
to prepare. Ready-prepared
gesso panels can be bought from
specialist art stores, though they
are expensive. Gesso panels have an
exceptionally smooth, brilliant white
finish which particularly enhances
the translucence of tempera colors.
Alfred Daniels Painting
Oil on panel
25 x 20cm (10 x 8in)
Cardboard and hardboard
Cardboard’s warm color brings a mellow harmony to Toulouse-Lautrec’s oil sketch (above left). Note how the brush drags on the
absorbent surface. For his bravura painting (above right), Tom Coates used the reverse side of some unprimed hardboard.
There is a lively interplay between thick impastos and thin, drybrushed marks, with the paint catching on the tooth of the board.
Author Simon Jennings Isbn 978-1452127163 File size 363.1 MB Year 2014 Pages 400 Language English File format PDF Category Drawing Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare The practical, accessible painting and drawing guidance that made The Artist’s Manual and The New Artist’s Manual beloved classics now returns in a refreshed design and compact new package. With the same breadth of content as the originals, this updated version is packed with easy to follow instructions, including comprehensive information about all varieties of materials and tools, along with hundreds of critical techniques for mastering composition, color, line, tone, and more. Copiously illustrated in 1,300 color photos and examples from working artists, this new edition is the definitive guide for artists of every skill level looking to begin, develop, and perfect their skills. The Complete Artist’s Manual is today’s essential studio companion. Download (363.1 MB) Manga: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Digital Painting Techniques No Excuses Watercolor: Painting Techniques For Sketching And Journaling An Introduction to Oil Painting Paint Lab: 52 Exercises inspired by Artists, Materials, Time, Place, and Method The Realism Challenge: Drawing And Painting Secrets From A Modern Master Of Hyperrealism Load more posts