Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney Book Review!

With the holidays behind us, this is an excellent time to focus on a good book for yourself. I recommend James Gurney’s new book, Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter.

Within this book Gurney explores how our visual perceptions perceive color and light given various situations, and how to master these combinations to elicit the proper mood and atmosphere into a work of art. Along with his previous book, Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist, Color and Light is broken down into a coherent structure with succinct dialog and numerous examples to illustrate each topic.

Chapters within examine sources of light, light and form, elements of color, paint and pigments, color relationships, visual perception and much more.

I found myself intrigued by the examples of light and color and how they change and morph depending on the surrounding colors. I learned that many of the examples covered are things I took for granted before. I never fully realizing how correlations between the sky, ground, and surrounding structures, both man made and natural, play important roles in the way colors are emitted. I had ideas of how color worked before, but with this book’s articulate reasons, it proved I had much to learn.

I read one or two topics within the book an evening over the last month to allow my brain to fully absorb each. I find this book fascinating. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not an artist, but I am passionate about photography, as well as being an art book publisher. I find art books help me a great deal in improving my photography, as well as producing better art books. Besides these two, I’ve long taken a great interest into the various approaches of creative people. My point being, you don’t have to be an artist to benefit from this book.

Outside of all the beautiful art within Color and Light, you will get a better understanding of how smart Gurney works to achieve a finished painting, making him the exceptional painter that he is.

Color and Light is a 224-page softcover book with over 300 illustrations in full-color running $24.99. You can get signed copies direct from James Gurney’s website here. You can also read Gurney’s daily blog here.


John Fleskes
Flesk Publications