I am asked this question quite frequently and I can confidently say each one of these books have been fundamental to my development in various ways. Here are my top 5 with links to each book!
This book has been my painting bible, which is why it’s number one!
Kevin MacPherson has some really wonderful step-by-step instructions and examples of breaking down light and shadow, as well as understanding color mixing.
An Artist Teaches is such a gorgeous book! It is the epitome of what you want sitting on your coffee table for guests to page through and take in all the beautiful artwork. It is still an essential teaching book. David Leffel gives amazing insights and so much information that is of great value to me.
Harold Speed was a London-based artist from the late 19th century. While this book contains a lot of information on portraits, there is great instruction on still life. This book has helped me to understand color by using a limited palette. I have been referencing this book since art school!
The Composition of Outdoor Painting is such a great book. This specifically addresses painting landscapes, however, I have taken many of his ideas and applied them to still life. This is not just a book for landscape painters, as I’ve used his teachings to add tremendous value to my still life work.