Quality: When one is observing printed art to learn from it, quality cannot be compromised and it wasn't in the printing of this book. The hardcover is sturdy with solid binding to make this practical for repeated use. The pages are not paper thin, they have enough weight to hold the book open well when on a flat surface. (Does it irritate anyone else when you're trying to look back and forth between a book for reference and something you're working on and the book just-won't-stay-open!?) The countless paintings which range from smaller than wallet-spread references to full 2 page spreads in full color print are stunning. Texture (as much as possible) is visible on the oil paintings. My son was flipping through and while admiring the art asked me, "Is this one a painting, or a photograph?" more than once. Don't misinterpret this to mean they all look like photos- what he meant was that the painting was so true to life and vivid that it appeared to be a photograph.
Writing: The author has a whimsical, descriptive style of explaining and teaching, which shows her artistic character and makes for pleasant, rather than dry, instructional teaching. A reader can hear how much she adores her work, how excited she is for readers to discover the joy of painting, and how much awe she reserves for those who are more skilled than she. She maintains a "you will never stop learning" attitude and doesn't claim to be the end-all-be-all when it comes to art instruction, but makes it clear that this book contains as much as a student would be taught (without the benefit of individual instruction, criticism and praise) in an atelier (lessons in a studio).
Practicality: (This section will be biased toward my situation, which I explained above, but I share it in case others are in similar circumstances and are considering use of this book.) I admit I came into reading this book without enough knowledge about what it takes to begin classical painting. When I read that the author will not teach lessons in classical painting to a student unless they had previously completed a full year of drawing instruction, I wasn't sure how this might play into my ability to use the book. Until I got to the first assignment that asked me to do something... to observe the values ([light, dark & mid-tone areas] which she explained how to do) in a picture and then cut them out using white, light grey, grey and black paper and reassemble them. See photo for reference. I could do a very simplified version of this assignment... but I came to the realization that I do not have either the background in drawing necessary or an adequate amount of time to invest in learning classical painting.
That aside, I think it is a quality resource, with beautiful illustration and equally beautiful teaching text that would be appropriate for older students or adults that have done completed a year of drawing lessons.
In the interest of full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. I am not required to leave a positive review; my opinions are genuine.