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Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter
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Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  5,826 ratings  ·  97 reviews
From New York Times best-selling author of the Dinotopia series, James Gurney, comes a carefully crafted and researched study on color and light in paintings. This art instruction book will accompany the acclaimed Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist.

James Gurney, New York Times best-selling author and artist of the Dinotopia series, follows Imaginative Rea
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 30th 2010 by Andrews McMeel Publishing (first published November 9th 2010)
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,826 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: art students, people wanting to improve their painting
Summary review: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Let me be very clear on this point. This book comes very highly recommended by me. James Gurney's coverage of the topic of colour and light is comprehensive. Plus it is accessible art instruction of a very high order. I've not come across any other book about colour by a practising artist and illustrator which covers this topic in such breadth and depth and makes it accessible as well.
* I've got ones which are more technical - but they're much less accessible
Dec 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing

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Color and Light is the latest book from James Gurney and it's fantastic. It is a very accessible guide that's filled with interesting and useful information on color and light. It's fortunate we have so many colors today at our disposable, and now with this book, something to help make sense of them.

The book talks about color in a very practical sense, as you would see them in life. The lessons are observations of light and colors from James Gurney's years of pa
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: art
Good introduction to colour and light.

Interesting perspectives into the thought processes on how to look at a scene and deconstruct it, explain it and then paint it.

James Gurney also has a nice youtube channel:
Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, non-fiction
I’m usually not a fan of instructional art books. All to often, they devolve into breaking things down into a series of steps, or simply showing a the different stages of one image. While this breakdown might be helpful in creating that one painting or drawing, it rarely helps you develop the skills needed to apply to original work.

Thankfully, Color and Light is not that sort of book. Instead it is a wonderfully useful guide to how color and light works and how to incorporate them into your artw
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is another book every art person should own. However, it is a little "hand-wavy" as most art books unfortunately are. James Gurney at least stays away from weird mythical art mumbo-jumbo, as he actually has a formal scientific background (archeologist). He has a very active, informative blog on which you can see his rather rigorous methods. This book is more like a discovery channel documentary than a serious textbook. Nonetheless, Gurney's attention to detail shines through and he at least ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Дуже детальний аналіз варіативності світла й кольору. В книзі пояснюються всі можливі й неможливі варіанти джерел світла, принципи взаємодії матеріалів із світлом, формування різних типів тіней, зміни кольору залежно від освітлення чи довколишніх умов та багато іншого. Все підкріплене великою кількістю ілюстративного матеріалу.
Void lon iXaarii
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall I found the book quite interesting, his works and illustrations are also often impressive and there are a lot of interesting fun facts in it... however these latter two points are also the places where I think the book could have been better. I was expecting based on the promotion for the book to be more of an educational book, with more teaching, instead a good portion of it seemed to be oriented towards showcasing the author's works and trivia. I would have appreciated it even more if ...more
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, art-instruction
A companion volume to Gurney's excellent "Imaginative Realism," "Color and Light" provides intelligent, practical advice on what the author describes as "the painter's two most fundamental tools." Gurney discusses elements of color, color mixing, surfaces and effects, light and form, atmospheric perspective, and much more in clear, understandable terms. The book is lavishly illustrated with examples and includes a brief but comprehensive history of the title subjects from the Renaissance to the ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference-books
This is definitely a good book, specially for people who use watercolor. It explains how light and color work on several different scenarios in a very thorough and detailed fashion, always with several examples. It also contains a ton of references and indications of other books on the subject. The book is heavy on technical content, but it is still a pleasant and informative reading. Definitely recommend it!
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For years I didn't read this book thinking it was about dinosaurs etc. This guy knows his stuff. This is serious information packaged in an imaginative cover, probably one of the most serious art instruction books out there & probably not for a beginner either, unless you are serious about learning.
Nate B
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
James Gurney is the best. This book is a practical and unadorned guide to color and light, and from my limited experience the first book I'd recommend someone interested in the subject. The book is filled with useful information and contains no unnecessary fluff. Each section is paired with useful examples that clearly shows the principle he is discussing. I'll be returning to it for years.
Gina Lento
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read through this book twice and I will read it again, dragging it along on painting excursions to apply the examples in the book.
The book, physically, is extremely well made of quality paper and is quite heavy. The reproductions are excellent.
This is one of several books that I would recommend as required reading for any artist. This one should be a required text in Senior yr art and also in college painting classes. (Also, Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting). The earlier the better. How
Kevin de Ataíde
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Right. I'm looking again at this lovely, lovely book. It will certainly make a handy reference guide later on, but its real power is its scientific approach to painting. It doesn't go far enough, but that would make it less approachable. It is good to hear from a professional that realism is not the slavish copying of nature to the point of imitating photography. Such an approach is visible around the internet and is discouraging for those who don't have the patience for it. One of my criticisms ...more
Juanita Violini
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-instruction
This is the books I have been looking for. Even though it says 'for the Realist Painter' this is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand how light and colour work for their artwork; good for the folk artist, mixed media artist and others.

Each section is two facing pages, so even if you only have a couple of minutes, you can still read an entire section. I loved this. The book is very well formatted. Because it is so tightly written, each sentence imparts valuable information. Thing
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't paint. With this book, which is rich with color and light and disarmingly fun to look at, I can now look at a painting with so much more color and light. I can "see it" with a broader range of light and color composition now, that is, with much deeper appreciation and enjoyment that I couldn't have fathomed before. The beginning of this book also traces some modern techniques through of their historical developments--how color and light techniques came to be at the state they are at toda ...more
Facundo Ezekiel
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Color and Light by James Gurney is an absolutely necessary compendium for artists and people that want to understand how the illusion of reality is conveyed in a painting. Every now and then you might need to go back and refresh the memory on the basics and this is the perfect book for that on this particular subject.

It's a nice reference book that you'd like to keep at hand at any time if you're an artist or a dilettante.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I am more of a sketcher, so perhaps not the most practical art book to me but it is a great insight on how a professional fantasy, science fiction, and palaeological illustrator goes to work.
Delving deeper into colour theory and the theoretical side of painting, it is perhaps a duller read than James Gurney's Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist, which I would advise to buy first. Unless of course, you are specifically looking for colour theory.
Vincent Sargenti
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You simply can't give this book enough stars, even if it were showered by every light in the heavens. This is the top book in it's field for artists in every media. This is the gold standard. There simply is no more authoritative voice than Gurney's. He is related to Dan Gurney the great race car driver and that makes him one of the greatest living artist of our time. Racing and painting: it doesn't get any better than that at any end of the gene pool.
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The concepts of color and light--and how light affects color (think of the blue/gold dress controversy) is technical and complicated. But Gurney is a good writer and explains all the concepts really well. This is a great guide for any painter of representational work. Can't wait to make up my own exercises to better understand the concepts.
Lars Krystad
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing and thorough. This book really shows the importance of knowledge in painting and explains the topics well. I don't think I could recommend this more for someone who wants to better understand their subject matter and how they're seeing it. It makes translating light to canvas that much easier.
Marco Klein
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Packed with so much information. I am amazed at how the author has at least one of his works available to illustrate each and every effect and technique that is mentioned. He also gives great insight into the physical and pratical reasons behind why things look as they do. Great for studying light and color for any painter.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book! This book is so full of helpful information that I am glad I purchased a copy rather than borrowing it from the library. I am sure I will return to this book constantly to review the valuable information and admire the beautiful artwork.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Leicht verständlich, viele konkrete, praktische Tipps und diese Bilder! Ich komme einfach nicht darüber hinweg wie genial diese Gemälde sind. Wahrscheinlich brauche ich also ganz bald seine Dinotopia-Bücher. Wahnsinn.
Abián Torres
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Libro formativo sobre los efectos que produce la luz en el color y su interpretación. Me ha ayudado mucho, es muy completo y las obras que muestra tienen muy buena calidad y sirven de ejemplo para las ideas que expone el autor. Quizás demasiado centrado en la pintura al óleo, pero útil igualmente.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yeah I do like this book and I think it is so informative, an awesome reference to have by your side and periodically browse through. Although it got a bit complicated for my from the chapter about gamut masks onwards and I believe I'll have to revisit those chapters in the future.
Eléonore Guerra
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think this book is the best book I EVER read about painting.
I will re-read it again and again as I evolve in my painting skills. It is so great I am going to leave my phone now and paint...
Thanks Mr Gurney for the sharing knowledge !!!!
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly written, organized, comprehensive, and has tons of beautiful examples. An absolute must have for any artist wanting to improve their understanding of color and light. I will be returning to this for reference, inspiration, and study again and again in the future.
Chris Jones
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Concise, full of useful information, and presented in a straightforward, readable way. I'll be coming back to this as a reference for painting for years.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nicole Haan
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an excellent reference for color in oil paintings.
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Born June 14, 1958 in Glendale, California. Raised in Palo Alto, the youngest of five children of Joanna and Robert Gurney (a mechanical engineer). Earned a B.A. in Anthropology in 1979 with Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of California at Berkeley. Studied painting at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena,California, where he met his wife Jeanette. In 1984 they moved to the Hudso ...more