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Top 10 Painting Books for Aspiring Artists

Here is a list of the top 10 painting books for aspiring artists. These books are selected based on:

  • The knowledge of the author
  • The ability of the author to communicate that knowledge
  • Readability
  • Usefulness to an aspiring painter

I have provided links to purchase these painting books from Amazon if you wish. I receive a small commission on any purchases at no additional cost to you. These funds are used to help maintain this website.

Alla Prima II – Expanded Edition Everything I Know About Painting, and More

Alla Prima

A brilliant book for beginners through to master painters. This is not so much a step-by-step painting book, but rather a book that covers some of the more fundamental areas of painting.

An expensive book but a must-read for any serious painter.

Fill Your Oil Paintings With Light & Color


A great book on landscape painting by Kevin Macpherson. There is some useful information on painting with a limited palette to produce vivid results in this book.

Kevin Macpherson has a brilliant eye for color and creates some beautiful landscape paintings, which can be a great source of inspiration for any painter.

Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice

Landscape Painting

Mitchel Albala is a fantastic painter and educator. In his book, he breaks down complex theories into simple concepts which can be understood by even the most beginner artists.

Ken Howard a Personal View: Inspired by Light (Atelier Series)


Inspired By Light is a showcase of inspiring paintings and words by Ken Howard. A must-have for beginner artists, however, even advanced artists will find value in this book.

The Elements of Landscape Oil Painting: Techniques for Rendering Sky, Terrain, Trees, and Water


A great book for landscape oil painters, however, there are many concepts in this book that can be applied to all kinds of painting styles.

This book is a showcase of not only the stunning works of Suzanne Brooker but also many other great landscape painters. There is step-by-step instruction and demonstration of some key painting concepts.

Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist


A great book for those who want to pursue painting but are limited for time. Daily Painting focuses on painting in regular intervals and creating many small paintings using an alla prima technique.

If you find yourself struggling with painting large, time-consuming artworks, maybe it is time to change things up with some smaller daily paintings.

Composing Your Paintings by Bernard Dunstan

Composing Your Paintings

Not as popular as many of the other books on this list, but not any less valuable. A great book for learning how to compose your paintings written by a master.

A Proven Strategy for Creating Great Art

A Proven Strategy For Creating Great Art

A inspirational book, especially for those looking to paint in a loose, impressionistic style. Dan McCaw is a gifted painter and he generously shares his processes in this wonderfully illustrated book.

Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting


An interesting read for learning composition techniques. The information in this book can be applied generally to all your paintings.

Postcard from Provence: A Painting a Day – Five Year’s of Daily Paintings Distilled


Not so much an art education book, but an inspirational read nonetheless. Julian Merrow-Smith is a brilliant artist and this book is a beautiful showcase of paintings.

I recommend these books based on my own personal experience, so I am sure there are many other fantastic painting books available.

If you have read any painting books which would you like to recommend, please add them in the comment section below.

Want to Learn More?

You might be interested in my Painting Academy course. I’ll walk you through the time-tested fundamentals of painting. It’s perfect for absolute beginner to intermediate painters.

Thanks for Reading!

I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and I hope you found it helpful. Feel free to share it with friends.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

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5 comments on “Top 10 Painting Books for Aspiring Artists”

  1. I have several of these books and from a previous post you also recommended Stephen Quillers “Color Choices” which I have had great pleasure in. For lerning abort Color, I Think that book is some of the basics to have.

  2. Hi Dan, I also have Kevin Macpherson’s “Landscape Painting Inside and Out” which in addition to your lessons and his “Fill your oil paintings with Light and Color” has helped me a great deal; I refer to them over and over. Thank you for sharing your list!


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