Last week I ordered the book 'Imaginative Realism' by James Gurney from Amazon and it turned up in the post a few days later - good work, Amazon!
So, to sum up my review, I..love.. this.. book.
For a professional like me in the field of Sci-Fi and Fantastic art this book is everything I want to read about, from the initial thought process to thumbnails, composition, laying out and the painting of fantastic imagery with every point he makes lavishly illustrated.
James Gurney (his blog is here) is the creator of the Dinotopia series as well as being a consummate artist (such an understatement). His sense of realism whilst portraying the fantastic is sublime and his technique - chiefly using oil paints - has a direct link to the great Leyendecker, Rockwell and Pyle, all of which gives his work a timeless and classic quality.
Here's the book blurb from his blog (now there's a mouthful):
"Most art instruction books show you how to draw or paint something you can see: a still life, a landscape, or a portrait. But what if you want to make a realistic picture of something that you can only imagine? This book shows the advanced or intermediate artist the time-tested methods used by artists since the Renaissance to bring your dreams into reality.
Chapters include: tradition, studio setup, preliminary sketches, history & archaeology, people, dinosaurs, creatures, aliens, architecture, vehicles, plein air studies, composition, and careers. 400 illustrations in full color."
I can't recommend this book enough to anyone who is interested in imaginative art or in seeing a great illustrators working methods.
The great thing I've always loved about being an artist is that I feel there is always something to be learned, there's always something to be tried out - I'm already thinking of incorporating some of his techniques in my future works, so I'll keep you updated as to the results.