Seeing with a Painter’s Eye by Rex Brandt is an excellent book. I intentionally begin the article with that statement because if you’re not familiar with Rex Brandt, you may not even want to read further. But I highly recommend that you do so. And I also recommend you to take a look at his work and his books. I only know of Rex Brandt from his work available online, his books and through the stories and experiences of others. I have it on good authority that he was an excellent teacher. And I have to say that Seeing with a Painter’s Eye confirms this to be true. Interestingly enough, his books seem to be forgotten and hardly ever recommended. Yet, Seeing with a Painter’s Eye is definitely in my top 5, if not top 3 books.
The book is no longer in print but a used copy can still be purchased relatively inexpensively. It was published in 1984, and so it may be difficult to get your hands on a good one. The book though really is worth the effort.
I really like the book because it discusses a very practical painting issues and questions to which I had a hard time finding satisfactory answers elsewhere. As excellent as Edgar Whitney’s and Frank Webb’s books are, I have to say that, subjectively, they don’t seem to me as complex as Rex Brandt’s book does. There are certainly overlaps, as should be expected, but the language, demos and overall approach is very different. And very good. Concise and to the point.
There are 5 main parts dividing the contents of the book:
- Line Drawing
- Color and Texture
The structure itself is very different from the books I discussed before. And I really love this approach. Each chapter further breaks down to a set of issues, which are very well explained and demonstrated.
As I said in the introduction, I think Seeing with a Painter’s Eye by Rex Brandt is an excellent book. But it is for those serious about their work. I seem to be saying that in all of these articles lately, but it’s simply because I try to recommend only the very best books I can. The book provides an excellent array of material to be studied and worked with. The book prompts you to work. The benefits are immense when you’re willing to do so. If you’re wondering if this book is for you, the answer depends on your intentions and aspirations.
I think that one of the reasons why the book is so strong is because the principles explained are not necessarily limited to any one style of painting. They are very universal. If you’re interested in more representational approach or you like working on a more abstract side, you’ll certainly benefit from the book in either case. You don’t have to paint like the author in order to improve and apply what you’ve learned.
Another reason is that the book doesn’t seem to hold anything back. It is a true textbook, a manual. It seems to me that its only goal is to help and educate new painters. Not promote the author, not even showcase his portfolio – just teach. Every and each illustration and painting in the book is there to demonstrate and explain certain topic. This is not a book that leaves you with more questions than answers. What’s more, when I read the book for the first time, I encountered many answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask.
Anyway, I cannot explain any further why you should get the book. I can just say that it’s given me much more understanding than I expected. If you’re interested in expanding your understanding, you should definitely get this book.