I started out as a self-taught artist and for the most part I still consider myself as one even though I now hold a Masters in Fine Arts. I retained the one part of my self-taught attitude that I felt was most important to me, that is the ability to allow me to sometimes take unconventional methods and apply them as I choose to regardless of whether or not the professional side of me cares to dictate otherwise. I am a person who loves "happy accidents" and it's my self-taught side that allows these "accidents" to come forth without my Fine Arts side dictating "that isn't allowed!"
Every so often though, there comes along a book that makes me sit down and think "I want to do that, and I want to do it that way" - Painting Animals That Touch The Heart is just one of those books. Although pastel is not my all time favorite medium, this particular book invited me to explore that medium and well, being unafraid to try anything once, I have to say that I've come to enjoy working with pastels thanks to this book.
The illustrations and the instruction are excellent and step by step procedures guide you to create some really amazing finishes. Animals are one of my favorite subjects - particularly lions, tigers, elephants, apes and of course wolves! This book offers a magnitude of instructional information pertaining to a number of different animals including big cats, horses, dogs and cats, baby animals and wolves - but first begins at the beginning by going over the types of pastels (hard, soft, pencil) and the papers that pastels work best with.
The author then offers insight into other useful and recommended tools for working with pastels successfully, studio setup and lighting recommendations, suggestions for methods that make great compositions such as position of subjects, working from unique angles etc.
One of the first lessons is for a cat eye, then on to the fur and other features, the subject being a snow leopard, then Canadian Lynx then on to the Wolf and it's ear, paws and fur etc. The amazing realism that can be achieved by following the processes outlined in the book are incredible. Once you have completed the lessons you have a solid foundation in the development of animals using pastels and from there it's simply a matter of adapting your techniques to fit in with other mediums - such as pencil crayon or even acrylics or oils.
Over all this is one of my favorite books for referencing when I get in the mood to develop art work. The images throughout are excellent and very clearly defined. This book is 128 pages including index and offers insight into some of the authors own works as well.
At $27.99 US or $43.99 Cdn, this is well worth the money given the amount of information it provides and the valuable lessons it offers any artist who is serious about creating realism in their work - particularly related to animals.