Before Modernism, oil painters were interested in developing their abilities to depict real or imagined images. In order to accomplish that goal, they needed 'technique'. Starting with the workshops of the Renaissance, young painters (e.g., Leonardo Da Vinci) learned how to represent the differing textures of objects (viz., silk fabric, satin, Persian carpets, shiny and dull metals, flowers, fruit ,vegetables, animal fur, human skin & hair). Only after gaining such facility in their painting technique were they allowed to join the guild of professional artists in their community.
In this book Joseph Sheppard shows how to paint the textures one sees. This liberates the artist who is willing to put forth the effort. Also, Joseph Sheppard painstakingly illustrates the steps one goes through in building an oil painting, from beginning to end. We see his accomplished paintings being built up layer by layer. He shows the importance of blending and how to attain sfumato. Note: I disagree with his insistance, in the book's introduction, on the use of toxic lead white (e.g., I have found that Old Holland titanium white is both more opaque and lean than lead white).
Sheppard starts with thumbnail sketches on paper to develop and optimize his composition. We are shown the various sketches he makes to reach a successful composition.
Using a toned canvas or panel, Sheppard begins the iterative painting process that follows upon the heals of laying in the drawing (i.e., with burnt umber and turpentine).
Joseph shppard is a comsumate teacher. This book is holds great potential value for the serious oil painter who wants to develop his or her painting skills to a high level.