In a field crowded with art instruction series (see those published by Hamlyn, New Holland, and Collins & Brown), Barron's has released the first three volumes in its new "Artist's Handbook" series. It is, perhaps, the best of the lot, and these first three volumes can be unequivocally recommended. Harris, a fine arts writer and editor currently working in association with London's National Gallery, intends the series for "dedicated amateurs" and professionals. The books are surprisingly comprehensive, with clear and lively texts complemented by more than 400 illustrations in each. There are the requisite sections on tools, techniques, mixing colors, and the stages of creating a complete work. Further, there are delightful chapters on the history of each medium and examples of specific techniques by masters like Degas, Monet, and Constable. The publisher has wisely chosen to house each book in sturdy hardcovers with hidden spiral bindings that keep pages lying flat. The volumes will stand up to the knocks of heavy library use and to artist use in the studio or the field. Published at a very attractive price, this series can be purchased without hesitation. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.