The best books on art influences

The Books I Picked & Why

Walter Langley: Pioneer of the Newlyn Art Colony

By Roger Langley

Book cover of Walter Langley: Pioneer of the Newlyn Art Colony

Why this book?

Walter Langley was a 19th C English artist who specialized in watercolor paintings. His journey began in the Industrial city of Birmingham UK where he developed great skill and mastery of watercolor. His career took off when he moved to the Cornwall fishing village of Newlyn. There he found the subjects and characters that would feature in his work and with which he would make his name. He was elected to the prestigious RI in London. 

This book is a biographical in-depth study of his life and work featuring numerous full-color plates. The incredible skill sets in the paintings he made show that watercolor as a medium, used with passion and care, deserves total respect. In the hands of a true master any subject can be rendered in a convincing and moving manner.


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An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art: N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, James Wyeth

By James H. Duff, Andrew Wyeth, Thomas Hoving, Lincoln Kirstein

Book cover of An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art: N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, James Wyeth

Why this book?

When I was a boy, like many others, I was infatuated with tales of adventure. Treasure Island, Last of the Mohicans to name but two. At that time the illustrations in these books just leapt off the paper and fired my imagination. It was later when I became a serious student of art that I discovered that many of these illustrations were made by N.C.Wyeth. An American artist (19th-20thc) whose later son, Andrew Wyeth, became world-famous. 

In Treasure Island, there is a painting of Blind Pugh, a ferocious pirate. I lost track of the times I tried as a boy to copy this work, an incredible figure painting full of movement and atmosphere.


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Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates

By Howard Pyle

Book cover of Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates

Why this book?

On a day trip to Cambridge UK I was in an old book store. I could not believe my good fortune when I spotted an old-worn book entitled Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates. I realised immediately that Pyle was the art teacher of N.C.Wyeth, the styles of the 2 are interchangeable. This book contains numerous Pirate stories, which Pyle wrote himself. Obviously the text is now very antiquated, but there are numerous illustrations illustrating Pirate battles and adventure. Pyle wrote and taught art in the late 19th Century. Any student of the Wyeth’s should check him out.


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Rowland Hilder Country: An Artist's Memoir

By Rowland Hilder, Denis Thomas

Book cover of Rowland Hilder Country: An Artist's Memoir

Why this book?

Rowland Hilder was born in the USA but migrated to the UK as a young boy. He made his name as a brilliant watercolor artist. What set Hilder apart from other practitioners was his love of the English Landscape in winter. This treatment endeared him to the thousands of Hilder followers. This was a new genre at the time (mid 20th century). The book is semi-autobiographical in addition to the numerous full-colour palates. It tells of his early childhood and moving to the rural countryside of Kent in England. As a student, he went to Goldsmith’s College London, and later became an R.I. Wonderful book for Hilder fans.


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Walker Evans First and Last

By Walker Evans

Book cover of Walker Evans First and Last

Why this book?

Walker Evans was a documentary photographer. He was one of the first to discover that the photos he took of the mundane or overlooked could contain as much or more merit and compassion than the grandest scene. His work has a social consciousness which was not always appreciated at the time (1930s) in an age of great depression in the USA. He was dispatched by the Farm Agency Commission to document rural oppression in the plains and deep south of America, and his photographs hold nothing back. They tell it like it was.


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