Finding a Likeness: How I Got Somewhat Better at Art

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Product Details
$35.00  $32.55
Penguin Press
Publish Date
6.93 X 9.06 X 1.18 inches | 2.35 pounds

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About the Author
Nicholson Baker has written seventeen books, including The Mezzanine, Vox, Human Smoke, The Anthologist, and Baseless--also an art book, The World on Sunday, in collaboration with his wife, Margaret Brentano. Several of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, and he has won a National Book Critics Circle Award, a James Madison Freedom of Information Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the Hermann Hesse Prize. Baker has two grown children; he and his wife live on the Penobscot River in Maine.
"There's an invigorating novelty in seeing a master try something new without immediately becoming virtuosic . . . Over the course of the book, something like [Baker's] career in miniature unfurls. Baker's initial interest in visual art as a means of paying attention to the inanimate world--to still scenes, small tools and landscapes, cool clouds--gives way to a fascination with the human form, specifically the human face . . . You feel that Baker has grown out of certain things, or grown into them . . . In place of Baker's old image-hoarding style is a less flashy, smudgier, more serene approach; in place of solitary preoccupations, a more expansive embrace of artistic indebtedness." --Bookforum

"Baker details how he met his artistic goal without freighting the narrative with extended metaphors or self-aggrandizement, making for an ode to the ups and downs of the creative process that's refreshingly direct . . . Generously interspersed with the author's work (his amateurish early efforts hearteningly improve), this will fortify anyone learning a new skill." --Publishers Weekly

"The narrative describes in detail the artistic activities that Baker, who lives in Maine, pursued over the next two years, from the four-day plein-air workshop in Camden, where his instructor passed along advice he had received ('Open your damn eyes!'); to his brief obsession with painting clouds, the 'puffy, huge, lunglike, breathing, hippopotami of the sky'; and the online courses he took once the pandemic began . . . he is a witty guide, open about his failures and stumbles . . . An amiable journey through an author's attempts at mastering art." --Kirkus

"National Book Critics Circle Award winner Baker (Human Smoke) tries his hand at illustration. While he has tackled heavy topics such as World War II and secret government programs in previous works, this book is a joyful and often humorous respite. Baker chronicles his artistic growth from 2019 through 2022, showcasing his many sketches, landscapes, still lifes, and portraits . . . Baker took art courses and used social media for further guidance and finding styles and subjects . . . Nuggets of art advice, about tracing and digital enhancement, are scattered throughout. A fun chronicle of a writer's attempt to get better at visual art, which will likely inspire readers to give it a go as well." --Library Journal