Exploring the World of Still Life Books

If you are looking for a book on the still life genre, scroll down. I have made lists of my favorite books on the still life genre.

First, I wrote a list of books that teach you how to paint still lifes. Next, I wrote a list of my favorite books on the history of still life painting.

Finally, let me give you my personal tip. Scoop up every book written on Giorgio Morandi.

Books: how to paint the still life

Here are some of the best books that artists and enthusiasts can explore to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the art of still life:

  1. “The Art of Still Life: A Contemporary Guide to Classical Techniques, Composition, and Painting in Oil” by Todd M. Casey: This comprehensive guide explores classical still life techniques with a focus on oil painting. It covers topics such as composition, color mixing, and capturing the illusion of three-dimensional form.
  2. “The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to Immediately Improve Your Work with the One Rule of Composition” by Greg Albert: While not solely focused on still life, this book delves into the crucial aspect of composition, which is a fundamental element in creating compelling still life artworks.
  3. “Still Life Painting Atelier: An Introduction to Oil Painting” by Michael Friel: This book provides step-by-step instructions for creating realistic still life paintings using oil paints. It includes lessons on light and shadow, form, and capturing the essence of objects.
  4. “Still Life: Techniques and Style – An Examination of Masterpieces and Interpretations” by Brenda Gibson: This book explores different still life painting styles throughout art history, analyzing techniques used by various artists. It serves as an excellent source of inspiration and learning by studying masterpieces from different eras.
  5. “The Complete Guide to Painting Still Life” by Kevin Scully: This guide covers the essentials of still life painting, from choosing materials to mastering composition and creating a captivating narrative through your artwork.
  6. “Still Life Painting Studio: Gouache Techniques and Mixed Media” by Jeanne Dobie: If you’re looking to explore still life using gouache and mixed media, this book offers a range of techniques and creative approaches to add versatility to your still life creations.

The History of Still Life Painting

Books on the history of still life painting

Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy by Mark Doty

“Observation and Imagination in Early Modern British Still Life” by Jack Hartnell: Focusing on early modern British still life, this book uncovers the artistic techniques and imagination used by painters to create stunning and realistic representations of everyday objects.

there are several books that offer in-depth explorations of this genre and its evolution throughout art history. Here are some notable books about the history of still life painting:

  1. “Still Life: A History” by Mary Anne O’Neil: This book provides a comprehensive historical overview of still life painting, from its early origins to contemporary interpretations. It explores the significance of still life in different periods and art movements, making it an excellent resource for understanding the genre’s evolution.
  2. “Still Life: A History” by Linda Nochlin and Norman Bryson: Written by two art historians, this book delves into the development of still life as an independent genre and its changing cultural contexts over time. It covers various themes, styles, and interpretations of still life across centuries.
  3. “Still Life Painting from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century” by William W. Kloss: This book examines the evolution of still life painting, starting with ancient civilizations and progressing through the Renaissance, Baroque, and into the modern era. It includes analysis of key artists and their contributions to the genre.
  4. “Still Life in the Age of Rembrandt” by Seymour Slive: Focusing on the Dutch Golden Age, this book explores the significant role of still life in 17th-century Dutch painting. It examines how still life artworks reflected the culture, society, and symbolism of that period.
  5. “Still Life and Trade in the Dutch Golden Age” by Julie Berger Hochstrasser: This book explores the connection between still life paintings and the rise of trade and commerce during the Dutch Golden Age. It offers a unique perspective on the economic and cultural aspects of still life artworks.
  6. “Still Life Painting in America: The Guilded Age to World War I” by William H. Gerdts: Concentrating on American still life painting, this book traces the development of the genre from the Gilded Age to World War I. It examines the work of prominent American still life artists during this period.
  7. “The Golden Age of Still Life in the Netherlands” by Jeroen Giltaij: This book focuses on the flourishing of still life painting during the Golden Age in the Netherlands. It includes discussions on the various subgenres within still life and the significance of this period in art history.
  8. “Still Life: A History” by David Ekserdjian: With a focus on European still life painting, this book provides an overview of key developments in the genre from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. It includes color reproductions of notable still life artworks.

Still life painting is very close to my heart, and I have spent years studying the theories and analysis of the genre. Remember that the best book for you may depend on your skill level, preferred medium, and personal artistic interests. Whether you’re a beginner seeking foundational knowledge or an experienced artist looking to refine your technique, I hope these books guide you.

And, here are some more posts that might help you.

Happy reading and painting!

Ingrid Maria Pimsner
Ingrid Maria Pimsner

Ingrid Maria Pimsner is a painter, arts writer, and educator. Her representational oil paintings depict the people, places and things that are closest to her.

She is also the founder and current director of The International Institute of Contemporary Art and Theory, an artist residency in Romania. In addition, she co-curates the Archive Space Project , a curatorial project founded by Annie Daley in 2010 and originally located in the Crane Arts building in Philadelphia, PA.

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