The Academy Library

Welcome to the ‘Academy Library’.

This ‘library’ consists of a collection of recommended books that you will without doubt find
useful in your art journey. Some books contain reference material on subjects such as
colour theory, drawing or the in’s and out’s of oil painting, some providing exercises that
you can follow to improve your understanding and skill. There are also books that explore
the spiritual aspects of the artist’s expression and another that challenges our modern day
views on the depiction of the human form. As you will discover this library covers many
subjects relevant to the artist in the twenty first century, not excluding how to remain
creative among the distractions and challenges presented in a modern lifestyle. You will
find Ben’s personal comments about each book italicised, following the books description.
We hope you find inspiration among these pages and return here often as we add to the
Academy Library.

The Natural Way to Draw
Nicolaides (1891- 1938) was among many things a successful art teacher, who became
‘second father’ to many of his students. Dying in 1938 he left behind a solid system for
teaching art and a large devoted following of students. A few of these students compiled
students notes and the nearly finished book; with respect to the plans of Nicolaides to
make this publication. Topics covered include gesture, contour drawing, drapery, light
and shade and much more. Exercises accompany explanation making this book a must
for any art student.
“The best book I’ve come across to teaching how to keep movement and life in
one’s drawing and painting”

Cours de dessin
Charles Bargue and Jean-Leon Gerome Drawing Course
Between 1866-1871 the Charles Bargue and Jean-Leon Gerome drawing course was
published with the aim of providing excellent drawings for art students to copy, improving
their ability to see as an artist, problem solve and above all draw well. The course
necessitates starting at the beginning and working through the plates as they reveal
greater challenges to the student. This book provides clean replicas of the lithographs
used in the original course for today’s student artist to copy. There are 70 drawings from
classical sculptures, 57 lithographic reproductions of old master drawings and 60 life
drawings of the male nude.
“An excellent resource book with clear Bargue plates a student can use for copying.
A must have on your bookshelf”

The Art Spirit
by Robert Henri
Robert Henri (1865-1929) led the Ashcan School movement in art (USA) and attracted a
large and devoted following of art students. Forbes Watson describes Henri as an inspired
teacher having an extraordinary gift for communication and an uncontaminated devotion to
art. This book is not does not read cover to cover as you might expect rather each opinion
is presented as Henri explains “as a rough sketch to stimulate independent thought”. Let
this book live on your bedside table and read it often.
“One of my all time favourites. Full of vital and inspirational writings and thoughts
on art and painting. I keep it next to my bed to dip into often. A little goes a long
way and it has enriched my life no end”

The Nude
Kenneth Clark
For many years whilst working in the arts, Clark had contemplated writing a big book about
one of the great subjects of art throughout the centuries, that is how artist responded to
and depicted the nude. In the 1950’s he retreated to a hotel in the hills of Florence to write
‘The Nude’. Clark was considered by many the premier art historian of his generation, a
title well deserved and evident in his writing. He makes reference to how artists
throughout the centuries have treated the nude, and could be criticised for his own biases
remaining unhidden.
“Always having a fascination with the nude and how it’s perceived through art
history – my interest has been recently renewed by being recently introduced to this
excellent book by Kenneth Clark. I haven’t finished it – however I think it’s a must
read for any modern figure painter”

Deep Work
by Cal Newport
Ever felt so distracted you can’t stick with the job at hand? Newport suggests tools for
living in this modern world, full of distractions and interruptions. Learn how to get in the
the mind set that enables you to start doing productive, deep work and learn to identify
shallow work, and how get to the elusive important stuff.
“I got a lot out of this book. It made me realise the destructive nature of social
media if its not handled with awareness and care – having a not so good impact on
the deep work that is needed for good drawing and painting. Useful tools and
suggestions to navigate your way through this minefield and get deeply creative”

Exploring Colour Workshop
by Nita Leland
Leland describes “Colour is a journey not a destination” . Colour theory is explored in a
very practical way in this book as the theory is entwined with exercises, demonstrations
and explanations. Topic covered include the language of colour, complementary colours,
hue, the colour wheel, temperature, glazes, light and weather effects, shadows and much
more. Concepts go way beyond the basics.
“Another favourite of mine. Nita give a well-rounded explanation of colour and how
it works – with plenty of exercises to do yourself to deepen your practical

Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting
John F Carlson
Written by a famous American painter and teacher, whose landscapes are found in many
of the world’s most noted museums, this book is known as one of the art students’ most
helpful guides. It provides a wealth of advice on the choice of subject; it tells what to look
for and aim for, and explains the mysteries of colour, atmospheric conditions, and other
phenomena to be found in nature. Through his profound understanding of the physical
nature of landscapes and his highly developed artistic sense, John Carlson is able to
explain both the whys and the how’s of the various aspects of landscape painting. Among
the subjects covered are angles and consequent values (an insightful concept necessary
for strong overall unity of design), aerial and linear perspective, the painting of trees, the
emotional properties of line and mass in composition, light, unity of tone, choice of subject,
and memory work. In the beginning chapters, the author tells how to make the best of
canvas, palette, colours, brushes, and other materials and gives valuable advice about
texture, glazing, varnishing, bleaching, retouching, and framing. This is a book to keep, to
read at leisure, and to look into for the solution of problems as they arise, when the need
for an experienced hand is felt. (from
“An excellent and must have book on all things landscape painting. Easy to read
and follow and full of great painting information”

Andrew Wyeth
The Helga Pictures
“My aim is not to Exhibit craft, but rather to submerge it, and make it rightfully the
handmaiden of beauty, power and emotional content”
Andrew Wyeth
“Andrew Wyeth is one of my top ten favourite artists, and the collection of ‘The
Helga pictures’ is a constant source of enjoyment, inspiration and learning for me in
my own painting journey. He is an artist of integrity, who’s external work – his
drawings and paintings – reflect his inner world of ideas, beliefs, spirituality and the

The Holy Bible
“A vast and varied book filled with essential stories and epic narratives that have,
and continue to inspire much of Western Art. A necessary read to understand many
of the world’s famous paintings. The narratives and stories inspiring and being
drawn from by the likes of Rueben’s, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Da Vici, Turner, Van
Dyck, Van Eyck, Dali, Durer, Caravaggio, Tissot, Blake, Titian, Van Gogh, Vermeer, El
Greco, Dore, Gauguin, Giotto, Franz Hals, Jheronimous Bosch, Botticelli, Fra
Angelico, Gentileschi, Holbein, Klimt, Manet, Raphael, Repin and Velasquez
amongst others”

The Elements of Colour by Johannes Itten
Itten (1888 – 1967) was a Swiss expressionist painter, designer, writer and theorist. He
has been known as much as a resourceful teacher as an imaginary artist. His main focus
remained the search for the laws of colour and form, harmony and contrasts.
This book contains numerous colour plates illustrating the colour systems explored by
Itten. The text is a rich feast of colour theory that expands the bounds of colour.
“A must have for those who want to understand good colour theory”

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