4 Must-Read Atelier Art Books for Newbies
New to atelier training? Here are 4 great books to help you get started.
Please note this post contains affiliate links. You can read our policy on affiliate links here.
1. Beginning Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides. To be clear, ALL of Juliette’s books are worth reading, but this is my favorite for introducing art teachers to the concept of atelier training. The book follows a series of approachable drawing exercises from simple lines all the way through to more complex tasks. My favorite part? It was designed with the intention that you draw directly in the book! It is an instruction manual and sketchbook combined into one fabulous package for learning how to draw realistically. This book is so popular that it sold out the original print run very quickly. But fear not, the author assures me it will be back in stock soon!
2. The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed. This is one of the most recommended books in every atelier I have trained in or visited. It is mandatory reading for first year students in many ateliers, and for a good reason. This book gives a detailed overview of drawing techniques, atelier vocabulary, and applications of a wide variety of visual concepts. If you are excited about atelier training and simply can’t wait to start practicing realism drawing skills, this book is an outstanding guide. I also recommend this book to art teachers looking for technical drawing exercises for students, as there are many great concepts within these pages that can be mined for lesson plans.
3. Light for the Artist by Ted Seth Jacobs. Although I have not had the pleasure of training with this artist personally, this book on light was especially helpful to me as a new atelier student. Learning how to turn form (shade) can be a confusing and challenging process. It becomes much easier, however, if you understand the underlying concepts of how light works and why, which is what this book lays out in a clearly understandable way. If you are struggling with shading, this book will help you.
4. Charles Bargue Drawing Course by Charles Bargue and Jean Léon Gérôme. Once upon a time in France, one of the most highly regarded artists of his age, Gérôme, bemoaned the fact that students were coming into his atelier with drawing skills below what he thought they should have. So, he started putting together a national drawing curriculum made up of drawing plates that would be widely distributed throughout the country.
These lithographs became the bedrock of much 19th century drawing education and are still incredibly useful today for learning atelier drawing skills. In fact, these plates are so important that I made an entire free Bargue Drawing Course on YouTube teaching you how to copy them correctly and extract the most drawing knowledge out of them in the process.
This book includes the full selection of Bargue plates and is a must-have for students pursuing atelier training, especially if you are trying to go it alone. I am often asked by students what they can do to learn realistic drawing skills if they can’t attend an atelier, and my answer is always to get this book and copy as many plates, correctly, as you can.