"It's undoubtedly the most erudite and intelligently organized book about art material and techniques that I've ever read (and I have been a an obsessive researcher/ reader when it comes to painting materials and techniques for the last couple of decades). So many books on painting techniques and materials are full of waffle and pretty pictures that ultimately don't add up to anything much. Others are so garbled it's obvious the writer hasn't fully grasped the technical aspects they're writing about. So Living Craft is absolutely a breath of fresh air--comprehensive, succinct and impeccably researched. It's also beautifully and thoughtfully written, and I love that you touch on the philosophical aspects of visual art as well."
-- Jenny Kyng, Tasmania
"An in depth study of materials in a very detailed and original handling of subjects not normally covered. An absolute must for the academic artist. So refreshing to have a book of this caliber written in modern times. Sections upon mediums second to none! "
-- Michael Harding, England
"THE BEST BOOK YET WRITTEN ON THE CRAFT OF OIL PAINTING.
The hardiest of congratulations to you! Your book is both a gift and a treasure!"
-- Ran Ortner, Amway Prize Winner, Manhattan
"My painting is on a totally new level. I have internalized much of your teachings; the improvement is amazing. (I cannot follow the reasons for the improvement -- why the paint "looks better"-- I know it is a result of everything I am doing new but the results defy clear cause-and-effect analysis)
But all in all I am in a completely new league now."
-- David Louis, Israel
"I am ever grateful for your sharing of knowledge, and continue to enjoy painting much more than I ever did with commercial paints and mediums."
-- David Heskin, Colorado
"Doing this has changed me as well as my process."
-- Don Harger, NYC
"I continue to get so much value and enhanced understanding from your book. I've taken a few steps back to try to start at a beginning with palette choices, and have found the Modern Grounded choice used in conjunction with the Pre-dimensional palette system to be a great starting point and am really beginning to understand color mapping, shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, I'm just seeing my paintings have much more depth and dimensionalism, and the range of colors being created from the starting point of 4 paints is really amazing and satisfying for simplicity reasons (not too many paints clamoring for attention)."
-- Dan Stanko, New Jersey
"Lately I have been exploring oil-in-water emulsions, casein and methyl cellulose for the underpainting. It has forced me to make my own paints, something I never imagined doing. I always thought it would be way too much bother, but to my surprise, I have been enjoying the process and the results immensely. Now I plan to start mulling my own oils. ."
-- Brad Pasutti, Victoria
"From soup to nuts and then some. .. I read a little of your book everyday and each time I reread a passage something new will pop out and my working knowledge of the craft continues to grow. Thanks for writing such a great book. It's the most useful book I have ever acquired! "
-- Tim Andreyka, Arizona
"The best written and most in depth manual I have read. On re-reading I find things I thought I got the first time..."
-- Barbara Harrison, Florida
"It's the best book I've ever read about painting on many levels, nothing comes near it. It's a breakthrough, a massive one. Particularly I have enjoyed it for the position you take in relation to known texts and modern scientific research. I've been aware of the various bits of information being published by the Tate and the National Gallery amongst others. But without a head for science there was always going to be a big gap between knowing and applying. When a painter begins to make their own paint the boundary between their mind and the technique dissolves and your book conveys this world wonderfully."
-- Christian Hidaka Ward, France
--Living Craft is an amazing compendium I will continue to refer to as I paint. The information contained within it I have not found anywhere else. This comprehensive volume should not miss in any serious artist's library. What else can I say but thank, thank you, thank you.
--Max Scotto, Scotland
"Really great work and a gift to painters everywhere. This is the kind of modern manual of oil painting that has been sorely lacking in our times. Initially I thought I'd just use it as a reference book, but I've found myself reading it front to back."
-- Jason McPhillips, Colorado
"I received the book on Wednesday and just want to let you know how much I am enjoying it. It seems as if I cannot put it down. I am very interested in working up my own oils and also in the chalk/oil putty mediums. I like the book because you have presented a historical basis and practical approach for painting with oils that is in reach of any artist willing to put in the time and attention to those aspects of the craft that have been relegated to second party commercial interests for so many years."
-- Manny Cosentino, Los Angeles
Website. Also The Judson Studios in LA, amazing stained glass work.
"Thought I'd send a note about how much I loved your book. I bought it specifically for the linseed oil formulas, but found the whole thing thought provoking and inspirational."
-- Joe Besch, Oregon
"I've been using the salt-refined linseed oil from Living Craft for almost a year now, and it is clearly the best medium I've ever added to paint. Not only does it apply evenly while creating a beautiful consistency, it also dries quickly allowing me the opportunity to progress faster. The oil beautifully blends details to achieve otherwise hard-to-create old world effects. I've never used anything like it before and refer to it as my "secret weapon"!"
-- Laura Spector, Texas
"I would just like to commend you on your book, it is singlehandedly the most valuable book I have ever purchased. Clear, concise, practical and philosophical."
-- Adrian Grist, Australia
"I really like the "frame" in which you organize your thoughts, and the way one section relates to another, using the craft as a guiding thread which unifies concepts, technique and materials. Every time I read it I find something new."
-- Ariel Gulluni, Buenos Aires
"I just wanted you to know that I have been enjoying your book on a regular basis. It is heartening to read something that goes much deeper than the usual method books by collecting and responding to our inner struggles to make art (and life) more meaningful. There is so much information to absorb -- what a treasure! I long for uninterrupted time to explore every nuance and at the same time, I am appreciative of all the exploring you have done to make it easier on the rest of us. This book provides so much more than one could expect. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and wisdom in an interesting, thought provoking manner. It gives me a space to breathe in this chaotic world."
-- Julie Davis, Vermont
"I have been looking for a hybrid approach that combines old and new in a sound manner. When I first started reading Living Craft, I had a visceral assumption that the catch must be that this uses arcane materials and is time-consuming and difficult, only reasonable for artists who had apprentices, so I am amazed to find on closer reading that the most technical part, making oil, looks about as hard as making a casserole. And it's so utterly challenging to... pour oil in a pan and stir it every few days. The challenge will be in learning how to paint with it, not making the materials. How could that not be a journey I want to take?"
-- Jan McDonald, Arizona
Tad Spurgeon's book is a brilliant resource for the oil painter. The logic of its organization, depth of information and innate wisdom it contains, makes this an indispensable addition to the painter's arsenal of knowledge. I have been painting with oils for 20+ years and own a lot of good instructional art books, but Tad's book cuts above the rest. If you are a practicing painter or wishing to learn, this book will provide a wealth of information that can only be acquired through exhaustive research or years of experience. Tad has done both and provides the reader a comprehensive compendium of advice, experience and knowledge. For this reason, Living Craft: A Painter's Process, is a great synthesis on the craft of oil painting.
-- Brett Moffatt, Australia
"When comparing the materials handbooks on the market, yours simply stands out. It's philosophical aspects speak to my heart, and when it comes to oil painting materials, it is the most complete."
-- Wim Van Aalst, Belgium
"If I were highlighting your book as I was reading it, the whole thing would be highlighted."
-- Leslie Hess, California
"Tad Spurgeon's book "Living Craft - A Painter's Process" is an
indispensable guide to the use of oil paint and all that can be done to
fine tune the medium for the professional artist. No other materials and
techniques book on the market contains what is in this book! Once it is
read, you will share some of the secrets of the old masters in paint
handling and technical mastery over your materials. It has helped me to
truly understand the finer aspects of my craft, and I am greatly in debt
to Mr. Spurgeon for the bountiful information that he has shared through
this innovative work."
-- Candice Bohannon, California
"I bought your book primarily for the "recipes" but ended up finding the philosophy of craft and the life of the artist to be the most interesting and, ultimately, the most practical part of the whole thing."
-- Carl Ramm, Arkansas
"I'd like to thank you for publishing such an extraordinary book which contributes so much to the craft of painting and to all artists who wish to go deeper."
-- Juan Kovacs, Mexico
"Your book is the bees knees. I've been spreading the word to painter friends. All would benefit, it's a wonderful corrective. I'm amazed by what you've assembled, experienced, pursued, and developed. Your humor is well timed throughout, it's a great read."
-- Laraine Armenti, Massachusetts
"I would like to thank you for all the effort you took to put all this information out on your website, and to write this book. It is so hard to find any serious information about the craft of painting. For years I've been trying to learn more about materials, oils pigments and methods, but a lot of the info you find is either biased, untrue or very shallow. And modern textbooks on painting hardly go into the materials, they basically say: buy some paint and work fat over lean, now go paint....."
--Arco Scheepen, Netherlands
"Living Craft: a Painter's Process" is an indispensable resource for oil painters of all levels. Clearly written and beautifully organized, Tad brings oil painting to its essence. The book creates a framework, both technical and philosophical, that guides the artist through the entire practice of oil painting. The book is rich with technical information, which, as a self-taught painter, has brought my work to a new level. This is a book for any painter, from beginner to advanced, looking to develop or hone their craft in ways that will ultimately clarify and enhance their unique artistic vision.
-- Rebecca Kinkead, Vermont
Rebecca's website and unique success story are here.
I am eternally grateful to the alignment of the stars leading me to Tad Spurgeon. I have spent decades painting and teaching art at the university level. Tad's intellectual depth, sprightly wit, inspired research, and generosity of spirit in sharing his knowledge with fellow painters has greatly enhanced my artistic processes like a fortuitous gift from the muses. Living Craft offers a unique and brilliant treatise on everything imaginable related to oil painting. It is a modern day masterpiece and an absolute must read for an integrated studio practice that embraces a deep and personal connection to materials and making.
-- Allison B. Cooke, Wisconsin
Tad's book is the result of an incredible amount of research and work on oil painting and its materials. Highly informative, well written and structured with the rigor of a doctoral thesis, the book reads easily and with passion. It is resolutely practical and is aimed at both the advanced painter and scholars who want to understand the soul of the painting done in the spirit of the old masters (mostly focused on the 17th century).
Always clear and very didactic, Tad offers a concise text, based on his own experiences all made with a objective and critical mind which he never deviates.
However, Tad is not a Reconstructionist. He is a great gentleman who wants to reconcile the best of the past with the best of today's developments, patiently compiled by the reading of ancient texts and modern research papers. For example he uses both old materials such as chalk or marble dust beside modern material like fumed silica.
Too many modern painters were wrong to use commercial materials without sufficient technical knowledge and regardless of their more or less good properties.
The true art which enhance the sensitivity of both the soul and heart, can not be practiced without perfectly mastering the materials used with the knowledge of their chemical and rheological properties, but also in the control of their manufacture and their amalgam in a medium. Tad has a unified vision, almost cosmic, of all the ingredients that give painting a supersensible beauty, charismatic appeal and archival longevity. He discusses about all grounds, natural resins (amber, copal, sandarac or dammar), hand-made refined oil procedures and many variations, putty medium with marble dust, pigments choice and hand-made paint, or starch gel as part of a medium, this last may be part of a secret of Rembrandt.
With an exceptional open-mindedness, Tad does not offer only many recipes but develops with a great humility his vision of the world of painting with a deep knowledge of art history, philosophy, material technology and of course the craft.
Tad offers the painter a complete system that will satisfy fans of oleo-resinous paint or painters who want to work without solvent and with the incredible putty medium variations. This book is THE reference book which should be present in all studios.
-- Dr. Roland Greimers, University of Liege, Belgium