I don’t know about you, but it’s not as fulfilling to view art on a computer screen.

I very much enjoy appreciating art in paper form, specifically, in those large hardcover photo books. They are perfect for casual viewing on your coffee table with breakfast or for guests to browse.

On my coffee table right now, I have 3 specific books that just never get old. Even if I have read them 100 times, they still fascinate me with every gander. Additionally, they are printed beautifully and are almost a decoration for my living room. In this post I’m going to show you what I have for my coffee table.

Mastering Composition

1. Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting

Ian Roberts who has been a painter with over 40 years of experience published this book in 2007. This book is great because it helped me understand the techniques artists use to take their paintings to the next level. It is photo heavy, which is great for casual browsing but also has step-by-step techniques using examples of some famous paintings. When I bought this book, I didn’t do too much painting, but even years later, it is still a great resource for me to review before any painting.

Even for a casual reader, this book presents some incredible insights into paintings with easy to understand language that gives its readers’ more appreciation for art.

2. Water Color Painting: A Comprehensive Approach to Mastering the Medium

Tom Hoffman is an artist and art teacher with more than 30 years of experience. His book was published fairly recently in 2012, but has been a staple in my collection ever since I bought it. Watercolor is, in my opinion, a mysterious medium that’s easy to use, but extremely difficult to master. It requires a combination of harsh and delicate strokes that are extremely difficult to combine in one piece.

This book helps the reader understand how colors, wetness, composition, and value work together to form one picture with its guides and colorful photos of master paintings.

3. Jean Haine’s Atmospheric Watercolours: Painting with Freedom, Expression and Style

I love this book by Jean Haine. She masterfully puts together a collection of watercolors that provoke a sense of freedom within the artist’s style. As a casual reader, you can expect to find a photo book filled with artistic watercolors that use various techniques to form various styles that offer a different look with each painting.

As an artist, this book will give you insight into different techniques to find your unique style and how to apply it in your paintings. Jean focuses on using a free style that allows more room for creativity than realism. The complete effect is new skills that will immediately show in your next paintings with more style and expression than ever before.

These are my top three favorite art books at the moment and they are all in front of me as I type this on my coffee table. If you don’t have these yet, I highly recommend you pick them up at your local bookstore or art supplies store (if they have it) and you will appreciate these mediums far more.