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How to Paint Like the Old Masters Paperback – September 1, 1983

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Frequently Bought Together

How to Paint Like the Old Masters + Traditional Oil Painting: Advanced Techniques and Concepts from the Renaissance to the Present + Portrait Painting Atelier: Old Master Techniques and Contemporary Applications
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill; First Printing edition (September 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082302671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823026715
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Beginners and advanced painters both will find this book useful.
You have to be willing and able to make complex mediums to have any shot of your paintings looking like those of the book.
B. Boal
The book gives a good summary of various methods used to build paintings in the manner of the "old masters".

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 85 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mr. Sheppard has turned his considerable talent and experience to recreating the materials and techniques that may have been used by the Old Masters of oil painting--Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and Titian , to name a few. Rather than apply thick paint on the canvas, the Masters developed their works slowly, over a period of weeks or months, applying layer upon layer of translucent glazes to a gray or brown underpaining. The result is color that is more luminous and vibrant than paint straight from the tube. Mr. Sheppard also provides directions for recreating the Masters' painting medium, a mixture of oil and varnish with the consistency of jelly. I myself did not have the patience (nor, given the obvious health risks in using the powdered lead and high temperatures the recipe requires, the inclination) to create this medium at home, but I am told it is available commercially. Mr. Sheppard is also thoughtful enough to provide recipes for substitute mediums, for those of us of a less adventurous spirit. As for the techniques themselves, there is no denying the author's pure talent, and his prose is bot engaging and informative, but make no mistake: this is not a book intended for the beginner. The reader can see the progression of each painting in a series of illustrations, but several crucial steps are completed in the space of a paragraph, and only a practiced eye can see precisely how the author has completed each step. I was also disappointed that Sheppard has chosen to create one or, at most, two paintings in the style of each Master. His Titian nude, for example, fairly glows on the page, and his sole Rembrandt recreation, that of an old man, rivals and perhaps exceeds many of Rembrandt's own paintings. I would relish the opportunity to see him create more.Read more ›
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Williams on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book two years ago when I was studying for my B.F.A. in Studio Art with a concentration in painting. Fascinated with the Old Masters, as well as Odd Nerdrum's contemporary work that echoes the likes of Caravaggio and Rembrandt, I sought information beyond what my Professors could offer on the Master's techniques. I was disappointed to find that Sheppard's book was, literally, the only one I found that even addressed painting in a classical manner. While Sheppard doesn't come close to answering the mysteries of the Masters, he demonstrates his virtuosity with paint in every example. His instructions, while NOT for the beginning painter, are not difficult for the careful student to follow. I found the advice practical and useful. I recommend this book to any painter with ambitions to develop richly colored paintings in the manner of the Masters. The Old Masters are best studied in museums in person. I also suggest a great book like Ernst Van de Wetering's "Rembrandt: The Painter at Work", which includes stunning close-ups to study.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brian Asquith on December 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first thing that struck me as I browsed the book is the woeful quality of many of the images, with some being out of focus. This problem is also apparent in the other two books by Watson Guptill that I think compliment this one well. Kreutz "Problem Solving for Beginners" and Cateura "Oil Painting Secrets from a Master". If you are looking to paint in a realistic style in the vein of Caravaggio, Rembrandt etc. then you will find plenty of information in these three books.

However all three deal with technique and for me the ability to discern the brushstrokes is a critical part of the learning exercise i.e. is the artist using impasto or thinned paint? With these images it's impossible to tell. Hopefully WG will revisit each of these books and bring the images up to scratch.

Joseph Sheppard provides "how to's" allowing the reader to emulate the techniques of: Durer, Titian, Veronese, Caravaggio, Rubens, Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Information on how to create specific paint mediums used by that particular artist, mixing paints, painting surfaces etc. He makes no claims that any of the information offered is absolute. As well as conducting his own studies on how to achieve a certain painterly effect he has also drawn on technical information published by the various "art experts" (listed in the bibliography).

Results of recent studies of old master paintings indicating that the current thinking on techniques might be wrong. The old masters would typically have a team of apprentices working alongside them, mixing paint, painting parts of the painting that the master was probably too bored to bother with (as well as good training for the apprentice) etc. The Master/Apprentice setup allowed for a continuous stream of knowledge being passed along the generations.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Fabian Hynes on July 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Excellent book! ~the things they didn't teach you in art school.
This book is mandatory for anybody who ever REALLY wanted to know how to paint.
* It covers variations of the masters. * Life drawing skills are a must.
It doesn't really touch on "alla prima" well... which is good because these master techniques are better to start with and use before moving to more immediate techniques.
It is not to say this book isn't advanced, it is. The author goes step by step and shows you how forgiving and versatile the master's methods are.
It helped me move from being stuck on underpaintings for ten years to finished pieces with consistency and confidence.
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