Review—’Painting Masterclass- Creative Techniques of 100 Great Artists’

Books Entertainment Reviews

Since I’ve started reviewing artsy books, we might as well start learning about the artists themselves.

What Is Painting Masterclass?

This book by Susie Hodge is a comprehensible study of the techniques of a hundred artists from nude paintings to abstract. It is organized by genre, from human body, to figures, to landscapes and still life, towards fantasy and abstraction. The artists listed begin with Titian and end in Gillian Ayres.

One of the most remarkable things about this book is the fact that several female artists are studied and represented. That alone felt like a breath of fresh air, because the dusty encyclopedias I used to read when I was in school NEVER did that. It seemed that only male painters portrayed the world.

And as we now know from a great trailblazing trend, history is what historians make of it, and Susie Hodges does a marvelous work here of analyzing and including so many talented artists from across the centuries. Some of them include: Artemisia Gentileschi, Berthe Morisot, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Mary Cassat, among many others.

It begins with a very comprehensible study on the history of painting, from cave paintings to modern art, painting mediums and techniques. This introductory essay is easy to follow and will work wonders in a school environment, it’s not as stiff as some more “in depth” studies are, but it doesn’t down play the reader either. The book studies the techniques of many of the greatest painters who have worked across Europe and North America from the 15th to the 21st centuries, using watercolor, gouache, tempera, fresco, oils, encaustic and mixed media.

How to Use Painting Masterclass?

The idea behind the book is to examine 100 paintings from Western art history: the way they were made, what they did well and how and what we can learn from them.

“Throughout the history of painting, one of the best ways in which many great painters have developed their own personal approaches has been by copying other artists’ work”. Susie Hodge

And of course, this was a very valid method of learning: you went to a museum, easel in hand, and painted looking directly at the picture in front of you. That’s how many impressionists first met, at the Louvre, copying still-life, for example.

These hundred paintings comprise many different styles, and include: Titian, Francisco Goya, Gustave Courbet, Georges Seurat, Edvard Munch, Paul Gauguin, Gustav Klimt, Amedeo Modigliani, Jenny Saville, Caravaggio, Egon Schiele, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Paul Klee, Claude Monet, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Leonardo da Vinci, Marlene Dumas, Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Marc Chagall, Sandro Botticelli and Jackson Pollock, to name a few.

Each page is laid with the masterpiece on the left and its study on the right. Each one serve as an example of a particular quality in painting: light and shade, rhythm, form, space, contour, and they all offer a brief glimpse in pencil of the underlying composition.


The book is a perfect introduction to painting. The “brief history of painting” at the beginning is truly good, and the vocabulary used to describe each masterpiece is enriching to say the least. To have such ease and knowledge when explaining each painting is very enjoyable. Also, the way each explanation is organized, with a brief biography of the artist on the side, an analysis of said painting and sketches of the composition, it all serve its purpose well.

I think it would be a great acquisition for an art teacher or a beginner who wants to develop its painting techniques. It is a very technical book, so don’t expect how-to’s and step by step instructions. That is not the purpose of the book.

The author

Susie Hodge has written over 100 books on art, art history and artistic techniques, including I Know an Artist, Art Quest: Classic Art Counterfeit, What Makes Great Design, Modern Art Mayhem, Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That, Art in Detail and Modern Art in Detail. In addition, she hosts lectures, talks and practical workshops, and regularly appears on television and radio, as well as in documentaries.

‘Painting Masterclass. Creative Techniques of 100 Great Artists’ is on sale since May 28, 2019.

Price: $30.00
Format: Paperback / softback, 288 Pages
ISBN: 9780711241251
Publisher: White Lion Publishing

Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this product for review purposes

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