Pop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art Phenomenon by Camilla D’Errico

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Art has always been something that interested me. From as far back as I can remember I was always drawing and doodling. I lost touch with that part of me when I entered college and became career focused, but I’ve recently circled back around and gained an interested in painting even though it was something I was never very good.

I’m not sure where I stumbled across the artwork of Camilla D’Errico the first time, but I was struck by her surreal pictures of girls. Aside from the large eyes and oddity of their hair enmeshed animals, tentacles, and other things I’m especially attracted to her use of color. I picked up her latest book in hopes of learning a few tips and tricks that I could apply to my painting.

The first half of the book focuses most on the abstracts of art – the sorts of skills and decisions that each artist will have to develop and decide for themselves. It’s mostly a grand tour of how Camilla finds inspiration and sets up her studio, whether she sketches before painting, and what kinds of mediums she uses for her art. It also has some crash course tips on color theory and composition. I would definitely suggest readers approach this section as mostly descriptive of Camilla’s process and not a set of rules. The tips and tricks in this section probably won’t be very new or enlightening for even amateur artists.

The meat of this book – or at least the content that I was most interested in – was in the second half. This section has over twenty step-by-step examples of humans, animals, and some of Camilla’s signature visual elements. Each one tackles tough painting tasks like human faces, animal fur, and twisting, melting elements. There are pictures of each step and detailed descriptions of each technique so readers can put them into practice right away. Even if a person’s interest isn’t learning artistic skills, they’ll certainly be able to better appreciate the details in Camilla’s paintings.

The book wraps up with a brief section on the “business” side of art, with tips on portfolios, dealing with rejection, and doing art for a living.

Overall liked this book, but unless you’re a huge fan of Camilla it may not be buying. I was mostly interested in the step by step techniques and found the first half and final chapters of the book to be cumbersome and boring. I do think the step-by-step examples are helpful, I just wish the accompanying pictures had been full paged. I think my expectations were for an art instruction book in the style of Camilla D’Errico. While there was some of that, this book is really about understanding the way she works and her process as an artist rather than a teaching book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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