". . . to be an authentic artist, you have to go beyond technique. You have to discover your own personality and your own voice as an artist."

This memoir could only have been written by an artist who takes his avocation seriously. Katz has prepared this evocative work and illustrated it throughout with high-quality photographs of his own works to encourage others who may be struggling with some of the same “tortures” he overcame. The book tells of how he grew as a painter with help from his instructor, his trips to art museums, and the skills he mastered as evidenced with his sketches and paintings. He went on to earn “Best of Show” at the Napa Exhibition for his portrait of Daphne.

New skills are learned in stages. He learned that it is necessary to paint every day and to draw fast and furiously in order to feel like an artist. As he dared apply this, his sketches improved along with the portraits that he so enjoys creating. A reader might consider that painting every day is not possible while working. Yet, the author was a practicing dentist who carved out the time necessary to become the artist he longed to be.

The book teaches the reader some of the early-level techniques Katz found most helpful. These are grouped into thirteen chapters. For those who enjoy painting landscapes, the first chapters show how to use values to create dimension and then explains terms the artist was taught for creating a pleasing composition. Included in each working chapter is a chart with painting instructions. Katz openly discusses how he could have improved his landscapes. The author’s favorite palette is composed of warm, vibrant colors juxtaposed against cool shadows. Other artist pictures included in the book are paintings by Rembrandt, Renoir, and Manet.

Those who prefer portrait painting will appreciate the strategies Katz adopted from those used by many great artists, including his hero Rembrandt. One strategy is to find rectangles of changing color within the object and paint each of those individually rather than paint the whole. This frees the artist from seeing like a camera . Katz shows one painting of a Rembrandt he copied using rectangles. Another technique is to add or remove props from a portrait to keep the beholder’s eye captured within the painting. He shows how adding a fish bowl or relocating a derby hat can entice the viewer. To do this, the painter must be familiar with the types of paints which can be easily removed or used to cover changes. In the short chapter on sculpture as a learning tool for painters, he includes a close-up of the lifelike marble flesh in Bernini’s The Rape of Proserpina.

The author completed this book at the age of 80 with the goal to leave this knowledge for his granddaughter Tiffany. In addition to her, the person who will probably benefit the most from this work will be someone with only basic skills in sketching and painting. However, one must also have the desire to create paintings that almost come alive. All through his book, Katz offers tidbits of wisdom gained from his instructor as well as from quotes by successful artists. The greatest assets of this book are the excellent collection of photographs of his paintings and the engaging layout alongside the text which challenge the reader to dare to create. In addition, every chapter begins with an inspiring quote from authors such as Aristotle, Willa Cather, Henry Miller, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. This book would make a great graduation gift or a retirement present for an artistic person.

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