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The Figurative Artist's Handbook


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Every artist needs to learn and master figure drawing.

About the Author

Rob Zeller is an artist who lives and works in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He splits his time between making art and teaching about how to make art. Having received extensive training in the figure, his artwork is primarily rooted in exploring narratives related to the human form, and is a blend of poetic realism and more modern sensibilities. Although originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Zeller has resided in New York City for sixteen years. He received a BFA from the Boston Museum School and Tufts University, and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art. He capped off his artistic education by studying with Jacob Collins at the Water Street Atelier. He is the recipient of two Posey Fellowships and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Zeller has exhibited at galleries in Los Angeles, Houston, and Paris. In addition, he has had two solo shows in New York City, at 511 Gallery and Dacia. In January 2009, he founded the Teaching Studios of Art, with locations in Brooklyn and Oyster Bay, Long Island, and serves as its director and primary figure instructor. It is an art school that follows the same philosophy he has in his own work- traditional techniques with flexibility to be creative and engage contemporary culture.


"Rob Zeller's debut book on drawing and painting the human figure promises to be one of the most definitive on the subject in decades. Classical, as well as contemporary in scope, it contains images, how-to diagrams, and information about figurative art movements of the past, in addition to profiles of some of the greatest practitioners working today.... The book concludes with a section on artists' painting processes, featuring examples of Zeller's own work, along with some of the best of his peers, who collectively usher the figurative tradition forward into a new era."
-David Molesky, Juxtapoz

"Robert Zeller's book is a welcome reminder of the ongoing importance of figurative art, and the many masterful figurative artists working today. It is at once a comprehensive, practical guide to the construction of the human body-male or female, standing or reclining, viewed from the front or the back, self-absorbed or expressively gesturing-down to the last anatomical and aesthetic detail, and an informative, incisive, critical account of the history of figurative art, a sort of grand tour of the seemingly infinite variety of modes of representation of the figure. Beginning with the treatment of the figure in ancient Egypt and ending with its treatment in the 21st century, Zeller makes it stunningly clear that the representation of the figure, in whatever stylistic mode, is the bedrock of visual art. The book has encyclopedic breadth and analytic depth, and is beautifully illustrated with drawings and paintings, all presenting the body in one or another of many possible positions and situations, all suggesting that we need the mirror of art to insightfully attune to our own bodies."
-Donald Kuspit, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History and Philosophy, State University of New York at Stony Brook

"The Figurative Artist's Handbook... is a very beautiful book to look through, so it may be challenging for those who use it as a handbook to let it get dirty and dog-eared, just like the previous generation did with their [Andrew] Loomis books. But used as intended - both for reference and for inspiration - it will achieve its purpose. As its gorgeous plates tell us, there is a rising group of figurative artists who know the importance of learning "the rules" before they break them, which is precisely the opportunity this book intends to offer its most ambitious readers."
-John Seed, Hyperallergic

"The book brings together three figure-drawing methods-the study of gesture, the structural approach and the atelier method-and synthesizes them to help the artist understand the human figure. Zeller also includes chapters on creativity and on using a sketchbook to take ideas from initial inspiration to a fully developed work... appreciated the book's surprises, including spreads that include not only the finished figurative painting but the preparatory sketches as well."
-Professional Artist

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