A list of recommended books on sketching

 by Russell Stutler 
I live in Tokyo where there's no local English library, so I have to buy my books. I cannot recommend every book I have bought, but here is a list of special books which have been very helpful and inspiring. These are the books I take down from the shelf over and over again.

These are linked to Amazon (U.S.A. and/or Japan) where I bought most of them. If you click on the book images you can read the Amazon descriptions and reviews. I've also included Links for those who use browsers such as Firefox which may not show the image links.

At the bottom of the page are some great books in Japanese. Art books are mostly pictures, so you could benefit from these and impress your friends as well!

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
by Betty Edwards


I sometimes get requests for book recommendations from people who would simply like to learn how to draw. So I'll start this list with the two best books I know on the subject. Every artists ought to have one or the other (or both) on his or her book shelf.

The first is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. This is is a classic. I first read it back in the days before "right brain thinking" had become such a buzz word. This book probably caused the buzz.

Its basic premise is that everybody can draw, and it's not a just special talent possessed by a few elite. The secret is in training yourself to tap into the right brain, and there are exercises for doing just that. As a smug artist who was praised since childhood for his art talent, I have to admit that this book is right on. It really works, and helped me to improve my art skills. This was a real eye opener!



Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Amazon Japan link:
The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Keys to Drawing
by Bert Dodson


This book shares the same premise as the one above that anyone can draw if someone only shows them how to do it!

This book does not delve into the functions of brain hemispheres, but many of the exercises are clearly aimed at stimulating the right brain into action, while encouraging the left brain to take a hike. This book is perfect if all you want to do is jump in and start drawing. I read this book fairly recently, and it has actually caused own drawing to improve -- and gave me new confidence in my abilities!

By the way, those exercises are not to be ignored. Don't expect to finish the book in one evening. By actually doing the assignments, you will experience first hand the principles in the book and will be able to recall those priciples later without memorizing them.

I can't really recommend one of these basic drawing books above the other. They are both excellent reference books after you have gone through them, and you'll find yourself going back to them again and again through the years.



Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Keys to Drawing
Amazon Japan link:
Keys to Drawing
The Artist's Guide to Sketching
by James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade


Now, on to sketching. I can honestly say this is the best book I have ever read on sketching. I bought the first edition when it came out in 1982, and it turned my interest in sketching into a passion which continues today.

The philosophy behind this book (as I see it) is that a sketch doesn't have to be fast and loose, leaving the viewer to wonder what in the world he is looking at, but there is also room for well done, detailed sketches which take a little more time. I still turn to it for inspiration and seem to always find new things I had not noticed before.

This was written by James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade back when they were just out of art school and had traveled the country with sketchbooks. It's a classic! I only wished the photos were in color rather than black and white, but then again most if not all of the sketches were done in pencil, ink, or grey markers, so color might not add much.

For a while this book was out of print, and the value of remaining copies of the first edition soared. I was surprised and very happy to see someone had reissued it. I may get a new fresh copy and retire my old well marked one.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The Artist's Guide to Sketching
Amazon Japan link:
The Artist's Guide to Sketching
Sketching School
by Judy Martin


Here's an excellent book that could substitute for an intensive college course on sketching. It's a real "how-to" book with lots of great tips. It covers every sketching medium I can imagine, and has great color photos of sketches from many artists, including demonstrations. This is especially a great reference when I'm considering trying out a new medium. Very inspiring!

It's great for anyone who wants to try out sketching for the first time, as well as those who have been at it for years.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Sketching School (Learn as You Go)
Amazon Japan link:
Sketching School
The Artist's Sketchbook
by Lucy Watson


This book is similar in many ways to Sketching School above, but it has a little different atmosphere, and approaches the subject from a different angle as the cover design suggests. It has a real artsy feeling. It is also packed with color photos of sketches done by many different professionals, and covers the various sketching media.

I rank both this and Sketching School very highly. Both cover the many aspects of sketching. I can't recommend one over the other, and I'm glad I bought both! This one is also very inspiring!

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Artists Sketchbook (Quarto Book)
Amazon Japan link:
The Artists Sketchbook
The Artist's Sketchbook
by Albany Wiseman


This book has the exact same title as the book listed above. How lucky can you get to find two books focused exactly on what excites you!

I found it while browsing a local bookstore that specializes in overseas books. Even though they charge twice as much as Amazon, when I flipped through this book I got jolted with a lightning bolt of inspiration, and knew I couldn't wait, so I forked up the money and brought the book home with me.

This is one excellent book on sketching. I love the artist's examples of pencil and watercolor. There are over 300 examples of sketches here! Very inspiring. If I could produce sketches half as good as these all my friends would be amazed.

The book has a foreword written by the Prince of Wales so it must be a great book. Hey, who just snickered? Seriously, I highly recommend it, too, although you don't know me from the Adam -- or the Prince of Wales.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The Artist's Sketchbook
Amazon Japan link:
The Artist's Sketchbook
Work Small, Learn Big! Sketching With Pen and Watercolor
by International Artist


This is a collection of articles by seventeen successful artists with very different styles, but the same basic medium. I love sketching in pen and watercolor, and was thrilled to find a book dedicated to just that. Although the field is narrower, there is a lot of variety in the way these artists go about it.

Since my favorite sketching style is pen and watercolor, I am always searching the internet for more books on the subject, but they are apparently very few. This is clearly the ultimate book on sketching with pen and watercolor (or ink and wash as some people call it).

The artists also list their art supplies used in sketching. Some of these artists use dip pens, some use pigment type markers. Several use those portable Winsor and Newton sketch boxes. This is a fun book to read.

I especially love the sketch journals of Don Getz. I hope he publishes an entire book or DVD on the subject himself someday (added later: He did publish a book and a DVD -- see the next two entries).

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Work Small, Learn Big: Sketching With Pen & Watercolor
Amazon Japan link:
Work Small, Learn Big: Sketching With Pen and Watercolor
Drawing For All it's Worth!
by Don Getz


Here is a Book by Don Getz that teachs drawing in his style. It is a collection of ideas, lessons and articles compiled over 20 years. It includes basics of perspective and composition and the importance of values (light and dark) as well as detailed instruction on Don's personal style. The book is full of great samples of drawings and sketches in ink, graphite and china marker. ink and graphite and grease pencil. The drawings themselves are valuable for study.

This one is not available on Amazon, but it can be ordered from Cheap Joe's or from Don himself.

Here is facsimile version of one of his journals. I can study it as if I were holding the original. There are only 100 copies available, each numbered and signed by the artist, and they are available at Don's workshops. I don't know if he sells them from his web site, but you can ask him. I managed to acquire number 42!

DVD: Watercolor Journaling for the Traveling Artist
by Don Getz


Here is the DVD I had hoped would be born someday! This shows Don Getz in action as he creates ink and watercolor sketches in his watercolor journals. It's the next best thing to attending one of his workshops in person. You can stand behind Don's shoulder as he sketches a nature scene by the river and a historical landmark in town (amidst all the traffic noises and bug invasions which are a part of the on-location experience of every sketcher). There are also some partial demonstrations.

Don shows you how to have great fun while sketching, and how to do it with minimal equipment. If you love his fresh ink and watercolor style (as I do) then you will want to spend a lot of time with this DVD. The advantage of a DVD is you can watch the work in progress, slow it down, back it up, and watch exactly how it's done, and have all those questions answered that maybe nobody would think to address in a book.

This one is not available on Amazon, but it can be ordered from Cheap Joe's or from Don himself. I got mine from Don, which is why the cover is different from the one on Cheap Joe's web site.

Watercolor Journeys: Create your own travel sketchbook
Richard Schilling


Here is an excellent book full of color sketches by someone who has had extensive travel experiences all around the world related to his work as a volunteer dentist. He always made sure to sketch wherever he went.

He chose to not become a career artist, which is probably the same decision most artists reading this page have made -- and for very practical reasons. Still, his work is top notch professional. His sketching activity was done solely out of his passion for art, and done during his off work hours. Most of us can relate to that. Again, a very inspiring book. It will make you want to jump on the next boat with your sketch supplies.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Watercolor Journeys: Create Your Own Travel Sketchbook
Amazon Japan link:
Watercolor Journeys: Create Your Own travel sketchbook
The One-Hour Watercolorist
by Patrick Seslar


Not exactly a book on sketching, but if most of us could complete a watercolor sketch in an hour or less, that would be something to brag about!

This book is full of great tips from professionals who have actually succeeded in producing a beautiful watercolor painting within an hour time limit. Very inspiring for those who believe they don't have time for art in their busy lives. Sound like anyone you know?

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The One-Hour Watercolorist
Amazon Japan link:
The One-Hour Watercolorist
Fast Sketching Techniques
by David J. Rankin


Here is a no-nonsense book with the goal of speeding up your sketching, and it really works. The author is an amazing watercolorist, and does painstaking realistic work. Even his pencil drawings are amazingly realistic and detailed. But he makes a clear distinction between drawing and sketching, and when it is time to sketch, he teaches you to take up your pencil and capture your subject in a matter of seconds. Yes, seconds!

If you could sketch faster, you would probably sketch more often, and in situations you previously thought impossible. This book will help make that happen. The principles are easy to grasp, and there are excercises to make sure you are on the right track.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Fast Sketching Techniques
Amazon Japan link:
Fast Sketching Techniques
The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige
by Daniel J. Boorstin


Here is a different kind of book, full of sketches of one of Japan's greatest masters during the early 1800s. Hiroshige Ando (A.K.A. Utagawa) was known for his woodblock prints, and here is a chance to see his sketchbook, full of watercolor sketches done completely with a brush. The subjects include scenes of old Japan, people, and characters from Hiroshige's imagination.

The style is very loose and uncluttered, and very different from most sketches you see today, especially in the west. This book opened my eyes to new possibilities in watercolor sketching.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige

Not available from Amazon Japan

Pen & Ink Sketching
by Peter Caldwell


This is a great book full of sketches done in pen and ink. This book will appeal to those who like to add lots of detail and texture to their pen and ink sketches, and who share the philosophy that sketches don't have to be fast and loose scribbling.

The samples in this book highlight the amazing beauty of line that is possible with pen and ink. The book is filled with wonderful scenes of old buildings, plazas and harbors from around England. The art work in this book is just fantastic, and very intricate, and I have spent many evenings studying them closely with a magnifying glass.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Pen & Ink Sketching
Amazon Japan link:
Pen & Ink Sketching
Rendering in Pen and Ink
by Arthur Guptill, Susan Meyer


This is the classic work that belongs in every pen and ink artist's library. I read it years ago in my school library, and was very happy to finally have my own copy just a few years ago. This one is the 60th Anniversary edition.

The book is full of samples of work by pen and ink masters from the early 20th century. It's a huge book that has provided me with many hours of study. This will inspire you to push your work to a higher level.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Rendering in Pen and Ink: The Classic Book on Pen and Ink Techniques for Artists, Illustrators, Architects, and Designers (Practical Art Books)

Amazon Japan link:
Rendering in Pen and Ink
The Art of Comic-book Inking
by Gary Martin


This is one of the few books out there that teaches you how to draw with a brush and ink. In the west, just about the only place you can find expressive brush and ink drawings is in comic books, and this book teaches how it's done, including how to hold a brush, and how to get the various strokes and effects. Of course, you are not limited to drawing super heroes with this style; you can apply it to you own favorite subjects as well. It will revolutionize your style. If you are interested in brush and ink drawing, this is the book to get.

After I bought the original title, the authors went on to publish a volume two. Then the original "volume one" went out of print. This book is the long-awaited second edition that combines both volumes one and two in one book.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The Art Of Comic-Book Inking 2nd Edition
Amazon Japan link:
The Art of Comic-book Inking
The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics
by Klaus Janson

There are basically only two books out there on inking comics, so if you can afford it, you would be wise to have both in your library. This book naturally covers some of the same areas as the book listed above and has lots of great examples of brush and ink art, but the emphasis is different. It is in the context of the world of DC Comics, and there is more information about working with editors and pencillers, as well as rules which apply only to comic art. Still, there is a lot of helpful information for the regular artist who merely wants to draw with brush and ink, and lots of inspiring -- and dynamic -- illustrations from top professionals who are worshipped by comics fans.

Ironically, the brush and ink work found in American comics is the closest thing you'll find to a modern equivalent of ancient Japanese brush and ink illustrations. If you are interested in drawing in brush and ink, these two books offer more practical information that any other drawing book.

Some may point out that there is actually one other book on the market called Draw in Brush and Ink, but the title is misleading as the book only includes a small chapter on the subject which only scratches the surface, and the rest of the book is about other tools and general drawing principles.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics
Amazon Japan link:
The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics
Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji
by Henry D. Smith

This is a must have for all who want to focus on the beauty of line using brush and ink -- in a Japanese style. It's not an instruction book like the two above, but a collection of some of the finest examples of brush drawing I have ever seen. 19th century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai produced these when he was over seventy years old, and they represent years of experience and refinement.

This is a reproduction or facsimile of a book of wood block prints which were based on his drawings. His original drawing would be pasted onto a block of wood, and an expert wood block cutter would carve away the white areas with a razor sharp cutting tool from both paper and wood together to accurately reproduce every stroke. It defies the imagination, considering you need a magnifying glass to see the more intricate strokes! Since Hokusai started out as a wood block carver himself, he made sure the blocks were faithful to his original drawings and even designated the carvers he wanted to do the work. The carvers' names usually appear in the margin of each page, and we can see that Hokusai's favorite carver, Egawa Sentaro did most of the carving. In other words, these are extremely faithful to the original brush and ink drawings which were by necessity destroyed in the carving process.

This book has become more valuable as I continually go back and study these works. I'm even one of the Amazon reviewers for this one, and some of my review text is incorporated in this description.

This book is the next best thing to having the original book of prints. It's mainly a picture book with very little text. English notes are limited to the beginning and end of the book. I was concerned when I read an Amazon review mentioning cut off Japanese text in the margins. Yes, they are cut off, but not lost. The originals would appear exactly the same way. That's because the originals were printed on only one side of double spreads which were folded down the middle, right through those columns of text. You only have to flip the page to see the other half of the text. See this photo to see what I mean.

One caveat: the cover on my paperback copy was not well glued to the spine, and fell off in a few minutes. But now my pages spread out flat with no resistance, so I consider it an improvement; When I take the book down from the shelf, I also take the cover off, and replace it when I'm done.

This book seems to be out of print, and only a few copies are available from individual sellers through Amazon. If you want one, you'd better act now.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji
Amazon Japan link:
Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji
The Watercolorists Essential Notebook
by Gordon MacKenzie


This book is not just for sketchers, of course. It is full of helpful practical tips on materials and techniques that are not found in other basic watercolor books. I've applied many of the tips in my own sketching.

It makes a great reference after you have read it through once. I am constantly flipping through my copy.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
The Watercolorists Essential Notebook
Amazon Japan link:
The Watercolorists Essential Notebook
High-Focus Drawing
by James McMullan


They say if you can draw the human figure then you can draw anything!

I attend life drawing sessions with other artists in Tokyo (those sketches do not appear in the online sketchbook). This book is the best book I have ever read on the subject. I always pick it up and flip through it just before I go to one of my sessions because it always brings great results in my drawing.

It's one of those books you can read over and over and find something new that will apply as you continue to grow in your art.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
High-focus Drawing: A Revolutionary Approach to Drawing the Figure
Amazon Japan link:
High-Focus Drawing
Robert Wade's Watercolor Workshop Handbook
by Robert Wade


If your watercolor ability needs help, then this book is exactly what the doctor ordered! It takes you step by step through lesson after lesson like a real class. Some authors will mention some crucial point and assume that you picked it up. Robert Wade drums it into your head like a good teacher by telling it more than once, and in more than one way. There are exercise all through the book that you really ought to do to take full advantage of the material.

What I found amazing is all the stuff here that I have not found in any other book on watercolor. If you like his style, then you'll love this book. There are also warnings on what colors you ought to leave out of your palette. Your beloved Payne's Gray is one of them. Can you guess why?

I also have the video by the same title, and the two together make a complete watercolor workshop. I got these a few weeks ago and am reading (and viewing) them over and over, there is so much material packed in there.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Robert Wade's Watercolor Workshop Handbook
Amazon Japan link:
Robert Wade's Watercolor Workshop Handbook
Watercolor for the Fun of it: How to Sketch with Watercolor
by David R. Becker


On the cover is the phrase "Perfect for beginners" but don't let that fool you into thinking there is nothing here for those who have been sketching in watercolor for a while. David Becker introduces some ideas that I have not seen in any other book such as the memory excercise and sideline sketches. He also talks about home made sketch boxes, which is an exciting concept for many sketchers.

David's watercolor sketches are part of the process that leads to finished paintings, but the principles also apply to sketches which are done for their own sake as the final product. His emphasis on making pencil thumbnail value sketches before beginning the main sketch is valuable as is his principle of omitting details and thinking big.

In addition to his own great sketches and paintings, David includes works of artists Robert Wade, Alena Pokorna and Keith Raub.

A fun book, and easy to read.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Watercolor for the Fun of It - How to Sketch with Watercolor
Amazon Japan link:
Watercolor for the Fun of it: How to Sketch with Watercolor
Charles Reid's Watercolor Secrets
by Charles Reid


Charles Reid has a very unique watercolor style. He started out as an oil painter and when he moved to watercolors, he brought a lot of his techniques with him to create a very distinct watercolor style. For example, he starts with dark colors and proceeds to lighter ones, which is opposite what most books and art schools teach about watercolor method. His colors are very deep and saturated and freely applied complete with wild splashes of color here and there.

His drawing process utiizes that fresh, effective contour "take your pencil for a walk" style that I always rave about.

This book covers on location watercolor sketches, mostly in 9 X 12 sketchbooks, and are from the entire span of his watercolor career (at least up to the time this book was produced, obviously). There is so much wisdom in this book, my copy is full of underlined and highlighted sections, and I've read it again and again, and have received something fresh every time.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Charles Reid's Watercolor Secrets
Amazon Japan link:
Charles Reids Watercolor Secrets
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (And Rewards) of Artmaking
by David Bayles, Ted Orland


I really should put this book at the top of the list. This is one of those few books that I think every artist should read. It's also the only book on this list that has no pictures. If you are like me, and have never associated the word "fear" with your feelings about your art, then title may put you off, but its really a book written with us normal artists in mind, and discusses the obstacles, disappointments and disillusionments we all encounter, including why so many artists give up or feel like giving up (and you thought you were alone!). It gives reasons why ninety eight percent of art students are no longer making art five years after they graduate.

This book talks about venturing out into unfamiliar art areas and materials you have not mastered (and the risk of failure) versus staying in the comfortable areas you have mastered, where success is almost guaranteed. This book will help you understand different attitudes artists and art viewers hold about art. It will help you to view your failures in a new light and inspire you to push ahead with your art work.

If you are the type of reader who uses a highlighter on the parts that really hit you, most of the lines in this book will end up glowing in flourescent yellow (defeating the purpose of highlighting). After I finished reading this book, I went right back to the first page and started reading it again.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
Kindle edition
Amazon Japan link:
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (And Rewards) of Artmaking
An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers
by Danny Gregory


This is a unique book full of inspiration and practical ideas. It contains images from the sketchbooks of 50 artists -- a few pages per artist. Some of these folks are professional artists, and some do other things for a living. Each has his or her own reasons for keeping sketchbooks, and there is a great diversity of views and styles. With 50 authors, you can't go wrong.

It also has a healthy dose of Moleskine related material for those who are enamoured with that type of sketchbook.

This is a big book (272 pages) filled with full color photos and scans. It's a highly concentrated source of pleasure and inspiration.

This is not a sequel; you don't have to read to Danny Gregory's earlier books in order to enjoy this one. He compiled the book and wrote the introduction and then faded into the background and let the others do the talking here.

Amazon U.S.A. Link:
An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers
Amazon Japan link:
An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers
Japanese Books

There are many great art books that are only offered in Japan. Since they are mostly pictures, even with little or no Japanese reading ability you will find the following books very helpful and enjoyable. And your friends will be amazed to see these in your home.

Click on the book images and you will go to Amazon Japan. It's worth the trip just to have a look around!

The Amazon Japan site is now easier to use even if you can't read any Japanese. Just click on the "In English" button to switch the interface, and check out the help pages also in English.

 Amazon.co.jp
TOMEI SUISAI DE KAKU
FUKEI SKETCH NO SUBETE

By Norito Saimaru


Here is one of the better Japanese books on sketching in watercolor, and there must be millions on the subject in Japan! The title translated into English would be "Everything about landscape sketching in watercolors." It's full of color photos of sketches of all types of scenes all around Japan, including demonstrations.

Even if you don't read a word of Japanese, this book will give you a good exposure to what I consider very typical modern Japanese watercolor sketches, which are fast, loose and fresh. The author has written several books on watercolor setching so I imagine he is recognized as one of the more prominent experts on the subject here.

The link will take you to Amazon Japan, which is only partially in English, but they have extensive English help sections aimed at non-Japanese customers. It might be an adventure to go there and see how good their helps really are. If you succeed in ordering, a whole new and exciting world of art books will be open to you.

Amazon Japan link:
SANPO NO SUISAI: FUDE PEN DE KAKU
KANTAN SKETCH

By Chihiro Tanaka


In English, this would be "Watercolors while taking a stroll: Easy sketches done with a water brush". This book is one of several in Japanese dedicated to sketching with a waterbrush.

Waterbrushes are fairly recent inventions. They have clear plastic barrels which can be filled with water. When you squeeze them, water comes out through the bristles. This means you don't need to carry a separate water container.

These convenient tools have helped sparked a postcard sketch boom in Japan, and the sketches in this book were all done on postcard size paper. This book shows you how to use these brushes, and includes demonstrations.

Like a lot of Japanese art books, this is mostly photos of art (by the author and by other artists) so you still get your money's worth even if you can't read Japanese. The author is the man who came up with the idea for waterbrushes. The emphasis of this book is sketching using very portable equipment while you are going out for a walk.

The sketches in this book are the fast and loose type, typical of something you might do on a walk, rather than sitting down for a few hours of on location work. This book is available from Amazon Japan.

Amazon Japan link:
YAMATOJI MEGURI NO
TANOSHII SUISAI SKETCH

By Yoshimi Morita


This title could be translated "Fun watercolor sketches while wandering the backroads of old Japan." The author has a unique style of sketching which is simply awesome. Very colorful realistic sketches which are still loose. These are the types of sketches which will inspire you to do better every time you open the book.

The subject matter is the type of thing you would see in the countryside in Japan, lots of beautiful temples and scenery. Full of color photos and demonstrations.

The style is very different from the other two Japanese books I've mentioned above. Again, this is mostly pictures with Japanese text, and is available through Amazon Japan.

Amazon Japan link:
ALWYN FUJIN NO
NIHON SKETCH KIKO

By June and Alwyn Crawshaw


Are you a fan of June and Alwyn Crawshaw? Do you collect their wonderful books and videos? I bet you don't have this book! In English this title would probably be The Alwyns' Sketching Trip in Japan. It is full of photos and full color sketches from their visit to Japan, and includes such landmarks as Mount Fuji, Kyoto, and the Odaiba area in Tokyo.

The Crawshaws have a large following in Japan since their TV series was aired here about ten years ago, and large crowds of fans and students followed them seeking inspiration and instruction wherever they went. They were not disappointed, but received plenty of both! Lots of great shots of the famous couple having a great time here in Japan.

The text is all in Japanese, but just by looking at the photos, you will have a very good idea of what it says anyway! This is a must-have for every Crawshaw fan, and anyone interested in both sketching and Japan.

Amazon Japan link:
HAGAKI E
SKETCH NYU MON

By Daisaku Shirakawa


Here is another great book on postcard sketching. The author is a professional artist (and animator) who has traveled all over the world, capturing scenes with his paints and postcard sketch pads. This book is packed with full color photos of those sketches, mostly in pen or pencil with watercolor.

The sketches are loose and colorful in a style I would say is typical of moden Japanese sketching. There are even several step by step sketch demonstrations.

This book gives you the opportunity to view the world through the eyes of a Japanese sketch artist. The text is all in Japanese (well, there is one English sentence; see if you can find it!). But after the intro pages it is mostly just sketches with short captions, so you don't need to know Japanese to enjoy this book or be inspired by it.

Amazon Japan link:
E TEGAMI LESSON IKKAI TANOSHIKU
OKUTTE YOROKOBARERU
FUJIN NO TOMO SEIKATSU SERIES

By Kyoko Koike


As more and more Japanese have taken up the art of illustrated postcards, some conventions have emerged. These include using sumi ink (often in addition to watercolors), traditional bamboo brushes, drawing in a very loose traditional sumi style, and choosing very traditional Japanese seasonal subjects. At least these are the trends I have noticed after going through dozens of books on the subject.

This book covers those Japanese conventions very well. If you want to get a good feel for the type of illustrated postcards that are going around Japan these days, this is the ideal book. It is full of color photos and illustrations and demonstrations. It shows you how to hold the brush Japanese style and even how to carve your own hanko (chops or seal).

If this were to be translated it might read, Lessons on Illustrated letters: Bring joy in the sending. Housewives' Friend Series. This is part of a series of books written for housewives. (Husbands will thoroughly enjoy it as well. ) In Japanese, E TEGAMI (illustrated letters) is synonymous with E HAGAKI or HAGAKI E (illustrated postcards). Envelopes are rarely used in this art.

Amazon Japan link:
SUIBOKUGA WO TASHINAMU -
SARIGENAKU SHIKI NO FUBUTSU, FUKEI WO
KAITE MIRU

By Tohun Kobayashi


While we are on the subject of sumi painting, as you could imagine, there is an overwhelming abundance of books in Japan on this traditional form of painting.

Here is my favorite of the bunch, published in 2004. It is fresh, full of color photos and demonstrations, and really looks impressive on your book shelf! The demonstrations include full color paintings.

Amazon Japan link:
TOKYO SHITA MACHI
TATAZUMI NO IE IE
YORI MICHI MICHI KUSA MAWARI MICHI

By Hachiro Sugiyama


This is a book of pen and ink illustrations mainly of old houses and neighborhoods in the downtown Tokyo area. The amazing detail in these illustrations will blow you away! I can't imagine how any human being can pack so much texture and detail into one picture. You just gotta see a sample of this guy's work, so here's a link to a larger photo of the cover.

The title is also a challenge to translate. It come out something like "Downtown Tokyo: Houses That Have Been Standing: Take The Long Way There." Okay I tried...

The author uses all types of pens, dip pens, technical pens, permanent pigment pens, and even ball point pens. It gave me a new respect for the ballpoint which I usually hate. The book is mostly plates of illustrations with no commentary, so it is up to the reader to figure out which drawing was done with what type of pen.

You will find yourself spending hours staring at these illustrations, shaking your head and wondering how he did that. They all evoke powerful feelings of Tokyo if you have ever been here.

Some books inspire you to try harder. This one might make you throw all your pens in the trash.

Amazon Japan link:
SUISAI-GA PRO
NO URAWAZA

By Okutsu Kunimichi


I have seen this book on display at practically every bookstore I have visited that had an art book section. It is one of the most popular books on watercolor in Japan this year.

If you go to the Amazon Japan web page for this, there is already an English title supplied: "The new fifties - Entertaining water colour." This title completely baffles me because the Japanese title should actually be translated "A watercolor painting pro's secret technique." Maybe they are trying to keep this out of the hands of the wrong people?

This guy is definitely a pro! His style is very different from most of the loose watercolors you see out there. It is very tight and detailed. There is demonstration after demonstration on how he paints his amazing watercolors. The book is full of color photos.

This is another book where you don't have to read a word of Japanese to have an enjoyable and fruitful time. Of course if you can read Japanese, I imagine you might get even more out of it.

Amazon Japan link:
The Complete Hokusai Manga Sketchbooks

Finally a complete set of faithful reproductions of Hokusai Manga in one volume! For those who are not familiar, Hokusai Manga was a set of 15 books of woodblock prints of drawings and sketches by Katsushika Hokusai. The original Hokusai Manga volumes were first published one volume at a time between 1814 and 1878 (Hokusai died in 1849, having finished the art, but before the final volumes were published). This was back when the word "manga" meant art that had a light feeling, and most likely the term was coined with the creation of this work. Many of the sketches will make you chuckle.

Woodblocks start to lose their sharp definition after repeated use, and the first prints of these original woodblock prints are extremely rare. No museum in the world has a complete undamaged set of all 15 volumes, with the exception of the Uragami Collection in Japan, and that private collection apparently has many sets of the first edition. This book is taken from that collection; 1,258 volumes were carefully examined, and the finest examples of each print were chosen for reproduction in this book. Each print is the same size as the original, and printed in the exact same colors (basically black, gray, and pale red) so this is as close as you will get to owning an original, perfect set of the first edition woodblock prints, which is impossible to attain at any price now.

Being basically a book of pictures, there is very little text, but there is an English introduction page in the beginning (like many Japanese books, the beginning is on the right side).

No serious Hokusai fan should be without this huge book (it's hardbound, about 6 centimeters thick, and comes in its own case). No other published set of reproductions even comes close. You will be amazed by the lively brush strokes which were faithfully reproduced by the top wood block carvers of the day. My own copy has brought hours of study, and will be well used for years to come.

Amazon Japan link:
Amazon also carries my favorite sketching supplies

Niji Waterbrush- Medium Round 12mm

Niji Waterbrush- Large Round 15mm

Niji Waterbrush- Flat 12mm Wide x 15mm Long

Koi Water Brush Large

Koi Water Brush Medium

Koi Water Color Pocket Field Sketch Box

Koi 18 Color Watercolor Postcard Field Set

Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers Pocket Box Set

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Compact Set half pan set of 14

Leakproof/airtight Watercolor Palette with 18 Wells, Removable Clear Tray

This article was taken from the Sketchbook of Russell Stutler