The Figurative Artist's Handbook: A Contemporary Guide to Figure Drawing, Painting, and Composition

The Figurative Artist's Handbook: A Contemporary Guide to Figure Drawing, Painting, and Composition


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An Authoritative, Comprehensive Guide for Contemporary Figurative Artists
At a time when renewed interest in figurative art is surging throughout the art world, author Robert Zeller presents The Figurative Artist’s Handbook—the first comprehensive guide to figure drawing and painting to appear in decades.
Illustrated with Zeller’s own exquisite drawings and paintings as well as works by nearly 100 historical and contemporary figurative art masters, the handbook is also a treasure trove of the finest figurative art of the past and the present day. Included are Michelangelo, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Gustav Klimt, Edward Hopper, Andrew Loomis, Andrew Wyeth, Lucian Freud, Odd Nerdrum, Eric Fischl, Bo Bartlett, Steven Assael, John Currin, and many others.
Original and thoroughly modern in his approach, Zeller brings together three figure-drawing methods long thought to be at odds, synthesizing these seemingly incompatible techniques to achieve a cohesive and complete understanding of the human figure. Although all three methods underlie contemporary fine-arts practice and education, no artist’s handbook has ever combined them before:
The Study of Gesture (Disegno): Rooted in the Italian Mannerist style of the 16th and 17th centuries, the gestural method emphasizes life, rhythm, and movement in the human body.
The Structural Approach: A mainstay of 20th- and 21st-century art instruction, this method applies an architectural perspective to the body, using a block conception for anatomically sound, solid figures.
The Atelier Method: Based on the training provided by 18th- and 19th-century art academies, the atelier approach creates sensual, smooth renderings based on meticulous study of the figure’s surface morphology in light and shadow.
Covering all the basics as well as many advanced techniques, The Figurative Artist’s Handbook is aimed at both students and experienced artists. A practical, how-to guide, it provides in-depth step-by-step instruction and—rare among figure-drawing books—features sections on composition, portraiture, and painting. Chapters on creativity and on using a sketchbook help readers hone their artistic vision and evolve ideas from the initial inspiration to the fully developed work. Also included is an extensive section highlighting the great movements in figurative art throughout history—from ancient Egypt and Greece to the present.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580934527
Publisher: The Monacelli Press
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 449,186
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 11.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

ROBERT ZELLER is an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Originally from New Orleans, Zeller received a BFA from the Boston Museum School and Tufts University and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art. He finished his education with atelier training from Jacob Collins at the Water Street Atelier and in-depth anatomical and structural study with the sculptor Sabin Howard. Zeller is the recipient of two Posey Fellowships and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and has exhibited at galleries in Los Angeles, Houston, Paris, and New York, where he has had two solo shows. He is the founder of the Teaching Studios of Art ( in Oyster Bay, New York. For more about the artist, visit

Read an Excerpt

"At the risk of seeming over the top, it is safe to say that this book is a milestone. Obviously a labor of love, it also marks the opening of the next chapter in the rebirth of figuration in America today." —Peter Trippi, from the foreword


Steven Assael * Craig Banholzer * Colleen Barry * Bo Bartlett * David Bell * George Bellows * Kent Bellows * Thomas Hart Benton * Candice Bohannon * François Boucher * George Bridgman * Pieter Brueghel the Elder * Noah Buchanan * Michelangelo Buonarroti * Sherry Camhy * Caravaggio * Aleah Chapin * Gustave Courbet * Lucas Cranach the Elder * John Currin * Jacques-Louis David * George Dawnay * Edgar Degas * Eugène Delacroix * Edwin Dickinson * Carl Dobsky * Michele Doll * Hollis Dunlap * Albrecht Dürer * Randall Exon * Eric Fischl * Zoey Frank * Frank Frazetta * Lucian Freud * Michael Fusco * Ann Gale * David Gluck * Susan Hauptman * Hans Holbein the Younger * Edward Hopper * Sabin Howard * Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres * Christian Johnson * Alex Kanevsky * David Kassan * Kurt Kauper * Evan Kitson * Gustav Klimt * Käthe Kollwitz * Maria Kreyn * Kristin Künc * Brad Kunkle * Leonardo da Vinci * J. C. Leyendecker * Andrew Loomis * Daniel Maidman * Simone Martini * Masaccio * Master of Guillebert de Mets * Lippo Memmi * Adam Miller * Alyssa Monks * Jenny Morgan * Odd Nerdrum * Ashley Oubré * Guno Park * Maxfield Parrish * Polykleitos * Jacopo Pontormo * Christopher Pugliese * Rembrandt * Julio Reyes * Norman Rockwell * Auguste Rodin * Matt Rota * Peter Paul Rubens * Camie Davis Salaz * David Salle * Egon Schiele * Nelson Shanks * John Sloan * Daniel Sprick * Sharon Sprung * Dan Thompson * Dorian Vallejo * Nicola Verlato * John William Waterhouse * Patricia Watwood * Antoine Watteau * Andrew Wyeth * Jason Bard Yarmosky * Elizabeth Zanzinger * Rob Zeller

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