Pop Painting by Camilla d’Errico

Title: Pop Painting
Author: Camilla d’Errico
Genre: Nonfiction / art / art instruction

Rating: 4 / 5

Goodreads | Powell’s

I was so excited when I was approved for a free review copy of this book (thanks Penguin Random House!). I love looking at art, I love doing art, I love thinking about and reading about art… I spend lots of times in my university library’s art folio stacks.

I don’t usually post reviews of “art books” because they don’t really lend themselves to my typical review style. Many of them are very similar in format and content and often I do not read the entire book, rather I just focus on a section of it. But since I got this copy for free I figured I should hold up my end of the bargain! 🙂

The quality of this book is great, and the artwork inside is beautiful and reproduced very well. In the first section of the book (the first ten chapters or so), Camilla d’Errico talks about what pop surrealism is, what inspires her, how she handles creative blocks, finding a style, composition, complacency, colors and emotions, the tools she uses, and one of her favorite techniques, blending. None of it is super in depth but she does have some good tips I’d never heard before and it’s always interesting to hear an artist talk about their work.

The second part of the book is the step-by-step tutorials. I did not try these (I wanted to get the Holbein Duo paints she talks about) but I did take a look at them. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they are more thorough than other step-by-step tutorials in art books I have. Of course, they do assume you already have some level of drawing skill. This fact should be understood when looking into almost any painting “how to” book–after all, many schools won’t let you take even an intro painting until you’ve taken at least a semester and sometimes a year of drawing first. Nonetheless I feel like this bears pointing out since sometimes reviews on art technique books reveal that the reviewer thought the book would somehow magically make them great artists: if you don’t have some drawing skill, you will still able to put her techniques (shadowing, definition, texture, color mixing) into practice, but if you have never drawn anything or do not have any aptitude for it, your pieces probably will not look polished like d’Errico’s work (I’m sure they would have a charm all their own though–in fact sometimes I prefer art by “non-artists”). Also, there’s no substitute for practice. That said, the tutorials are informative, helpful, and thorough (she tells you what kind of brush she’s using, how she’s shading, where she’s adding colors to complement different elements, etc.–things that make a painting look great that you might not think about automatically).

All in all I think this is a really fun book to look through and I am excited to try out some of her tutorials. The book really made me want to do art right now which I think is a great indicator of its value.

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