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Imaginative Still Life: 02/22/08

Imaginative Still Life

Imaginative Still Life (1983) is one of the more upbeat how-to paint books I've read in a while. These books walk a fine line between dot-to-dot instructions and building fundamentals while still allowing room for creative growth.

Moira Huntly places her emphasis on the fun of painting an on creative experimentation. Of course she does include the basics of shading, composition, and color but her tutorials don't expect readers to copy her pieces as part of the learning process. Moira's enthusiasm for art and the still life is infective. Moira, by the way, is still actively painting and seems to still be having fun.

The book's biggest weakness though, is its lack of full color illustrations. Full color printing hasn't really become affordable until recent years so like most older art illustrations, Imaginative Still Life is mostly illustrated in black and white with some limited color prints.

When I showed the book to some non-artist friends, they were taken aback with how ugly the paintings looked in the book. The color plates do not do Moira Huntly's talent justice but this is just a fact of where printing was in 1980. Ignore the plates and enjoy Moira's many pen drawings which are excellent. Pay attention to her words and her enthusiasm. Sure the book isn't as colorful as modern how-to paint books but it is just as valuable a resource.

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