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The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to Immediately Improve Your Work with the One Rule of Composition Paperback – May 7, 2003

82 customer reviews

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The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to Immediately Improve Your Work with the One Rule of Composition + Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting (Mastering (North Light Books)) + Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Albert's how-to reduces compositional guides to one "master rule": never make any two intervals--of distance, length, spacing, and dimensions of shapes, or the value intervals on a value scale and colors on the color wheel--the same. His discussion of the "golden rule" and its uses entail an exploration of design dynamics, an examination of the finer points of dynamic balance, tonal value, and contrast, and application of the theoretical knowledge to analyses of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits.

Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Greg Albert is Editorial Director of North Light fine art books. He's also an artist, author and teacher who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books; 1st edition (May 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581802560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581802566
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Michael on August 15, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I avoided this book just because I was suspicious of the title, there are no secrets, just information. But I finally gave in and ordered it because everyone is talking about it and they say it is that good. I had it on my bookshelf for a while when I was reviewing another book on photography and one reviewer recommended this book (Simple Secret to Better Painting). I'm a painter and a photographer, both amateur, and was suprised to see a photographer recommending it. So I took it with me on a weekend trip.

I really enjoyed the book. Though I still dislike the title. The one rule is just "don't make any two things the same". But what the author does is show how that applies to all aspects of painting (and photography). composition & the rule of thirds, contrasts in the painting, cropping, colors, textures, etc. The best part of the book is that there are small thumbnails showing what is bad and what is good. And finally, unlike most art books which serve only to show the author's work, this book showcases absolutely wonderful work from a variety of artists. Most watercolorists, and I have a new interest in watercolor because of this book. The paintings aren't just there for eye candy, the author uses them to demonstrate the concepts discussed in the book.

Overall I cannot recommend the book enough. Don't be put off by the title. Buy it, read it, and practice it. I'm confident it would make anyone's art better.
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101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Carol A. Strickland on March 16, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because I was in a mood, had more money than I usually do, and was intrigued by the portrait on the cover. I've been painting for some time now and thought that this might be a book that I'd just turn around and donate to the local library because it didn't seem like a keeper.

Was I wrong! The author expands his simple rule (which I already knew about, of course, but only in one fashion) to cover EVERYTHING about art. I hadn't considered just how far-ranging the rule is. Was it a lightbulb moment or a "Duh! Of course!" moment? Whatever, I'm now AWARE of the rule in every aspect of my art. I now can achieve better compositions, better color, better everything.

Immeasurably helpful! And the author uses the most wonderful paintings and demos to illustrate his points. (Is that his daughter in all those poses? She's lovely!) Definitely a Keeper book. Let the library get their own copy!
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115 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Composition, also called design, is the heart of painting planning; only color planning is perhaps more complex and challenging. This books contains an admirable review of most of the essential aspects of composition, including very pertinent illustrations that neatly clarity the points made in words. (I plan to take the book with me on a sketching/painting trip beginning in a few days to Yosemite and the coast of California as a quick reference to remind me of compositional points--because of these handy illustrations).
However, I must make a few critical remarks, the most important first.
All the books I have read that cover this subject--and I don't claim to have read them all, just many--fail in this way: They do not provide a systematic approach to designing a painting that incorporates all or most of the sigmificant things to remember. Tom Lynch comes close in his "Watercolor Secrets" (recommended) and his recently published "100 charts" (highly recommended). Even the august Edgar Whitney with all his dogmatic principles only hints at possible approaches covering some of his material. Margaret M. Martin "No More Wishy-Washy Watercolor" (highly recommended) does give excellent guidance on dealing with values, the most important aspect of design. But I have found no overall systematic approach that incorporates all the many things to remember. What should one do first, then next, and before this, etc? Maybe there just isn't one! But this book does not integrate all the material, I feel, as it promises.
Second, what do I mean "does not integrate"? Some of the applications of the one rule seem forced.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By T. Burgess on January 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
I would have to say that this is one of the best books I've read regarding art instruction. This book is well written, and it keeps you wanting to read the next page.In the introduction Mr. Albert makes an interesting statement. He says that the book should be read quickly and remembered forever. Well I certainly read it quickly, and would say that there are certainly things I'll remember forever, but I would have to say that I'm going to be using this book less as reading material and more as a reference tool.

As a self-taught musicain as well as an aspiring artist I have a rabid obsession with books. Many are written by very talented artist; but all too often it's as though the books were written to impress the reader with the authors amazing abilities, more-so than to teach.

I would call this book more along the lines of say an idiots guide to design and composition. This is by no means a knock on the author, it's actually one of the best compliments I can think of. Being the father of a child that wants to learn the melody to Beethoven's Ode to Joy, or to simply paint a "cool" looking picture in pastel or acrylic, I've noticed that it's easier for him "and me" to get to the meat of things. Dicussing the finer points of music theory, or the ancient theory on arts golden mean for painting composition are wonderful things to digest, but can also add some confusion to the less experienced artist.

I'm impressed that Mr. Albert has forgone the puff your chest out route and setteled for a format for his book that allows more immediate gratification. The title of this book is very bold, implying that you can improve your art immediately. I've seen numerous books that have similar titles with one little difference. This book delivers on it's promise.
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