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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design


An introductory guide to resources for Painting


Welcome to the Painting Resource Guide. This guide covers a wide range of available resources such as useful books, links, and digital resources to complete assignments and conduct research.

This guide will help you begin your research. Keep in mind that research is an iterative process; it will build on itself and is often better accomplished in multiple small steps. Art is often an interdisciplinary area of study so some resources might seem more relevant than others. This guide cannot list all possible resources, but it is a good place to start. If you have more questions or need additional help, just ask! There are librarians available to help you find answers.

The Art of Browsing

Here are some helpful tips:

Books in the Fleet Library are organized by topic using the Library of Congress classification system.
Topics related to Painting are under the ND letter ranges. If you are interested in browsing the shelves, you can use this map and the call numbers listed below. For a complete list of the N range, see Library of Congress N (Fine Arts) Classification.

ND25-3416 Painting
ND25-(48) General
ND49-813 History
ND1115-1120 Study and teaching
ND1130-1156 General works
ND1288-1460 Special subjects
ND1290-1293 Human figure
ND1300-1337 Portraits
ND1340-1367 Landscape painting
ND1370-1375 Marine painting
ND1380-1383 Animals. Birds
ND1385-1388 Sports. Hunting, fishing, etc.
ND1390-1393 Still life
ND1400-1403 Flowers. Fruit. Trees
ND1410-1460 Other subjects
ND1470-1625 Technique and materials, Pigments, Color
ND1630-1662 Examination and conservation of paintings
ND1700-2495 Watercolor painting
ND2550-2733 Mural painting
ND2889-3416 Illuminating of manuscripts and books

Other ways to Browse:

Painting (all subjects)

Painting (related subjects)

Painting - abstract

Painting - exhibition catalogs

Searching Tips

As you search for information on your topic you will develop your own vocabulary and terms related your topic. Keeping track of searches that worked well or creating lists of synonyms for your keywords can be very helpful.


Keyword Searches

Whether you are searching on the library Catalog or in Fleet Search, searches will default to Keyword searches.

A Keyword search looks for words anywhere in the title, summary, or metadata of an item. Keyword searches are a good substitute for a subject search when you do not know the standard subject heading. Keyword may also be used as a substitute for a title or author search when you have incomplete title or author information.

  • Use this type of search technique when you are getting a feel for your topic and you are finding general information on a topic or subject.
  • For example, a keyword search for "Adrian Piper" will give you results for items about and written by her. If you want to find items written by Adrian Piper use an author search and enter "Piper, Adrian."


Artist/Author Searches

This search looks for the name of the artist, author, editor, or translator of an item. It can be helpful to think of the artist as the author of his/her/their own work.

  • Use this search when you know the name of the artist, author, editor or translator of a item.
  • Tip: search last name, first name, for example "Piper, Adrian." If you don't find the artist or author you are looking for, try a keyword search instead.
  • Tip: Galleries or museums can be listed as authors. Try searching museums and galleries to see exhibition catalogs and other publications by institutions. For example Museum of Fine Arts Boston or Museum of Modern Art.
  • For example, if you want to find items written by Adrian Piper use an author search and enter "Piper, Adrian." If you enter a name as a subject, the items you see in the search results will be about them, not necessarily written by them. A keyword search will return anything containing the name.


Subject Searches

A subject search is more specific than a keyword search. Subject headings are a predetermined list of possible terms, which reflect the content of the item. Most academic libraries use Library of Congress Subject Headings. Subject headings are not always intuitive.

  • Use this type of search when you want to find information which reflects the about-ness of a topic.
  • For example, if you enter "Piper, Adrian" as a subject, the items you see in the search results will be about her, not necessarily written by her. If you want to find items written by Adrian Piper, use an Author search. A Keyword search will give you results for any items that contain the name.

Title Searches

This search looks for the exact words you entered as the title of an item. If you don't know the exact title, try using a Keyword Search instead.

  • Use this when you know the exact title of a book, exhibition catalog, or journal.

Graduate Theses

Thesis books are deposited at Fleet Library at the end of each graduate student's time at RISD. Most recent theses can be browsed freely in the library's mezzanine-level Grad Thesis area; older and more delicate work is housed in Archives and can be viewed by appointment. Theses designated as Storage can be requested during open hours on the first floor of the library. See the Index to Graduate Theses to explore theses in detail. Some of RISD's recent Graduate Theses are available to view and download online on RISD's Digital Commons.

Additional Resources

Citation Management

For more information and additional options, see Citation Guides and Information Management Tools

Requesting an Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a library service that allows the Fleet Library to "check out" materials from other libraries. If we don't have something you need, request it and we'll notify you when it's available.

Through ILL you can request:

  • Books
  • Book Chapters (PDF)
  • Articles (PDF)
  • DVDs/Videos
  • CDs, Musical Scores

Sign into the Interlibrary Loan portal here with your RISD account.


You can also request items from within Fleet Search (look for the "Request through Interlibrary Loan" option).
This is handy because it will pre-fill the item request form for you.

Renewing Books Online

Step 1: Visit the library homepage and click "My Account" in the top right account

Step 2: Follow the instructions on the screen to log in.

Step 3: Click "# Items currently checked out" and click "Renew All" or select the items you'd like to renew. 

If you are prevented from renewing, you may have hit your limit (see "Borrowing" on the website for info). For help, reach out to us: or (401) 709-5901

Brown University Libraries

RISD faculty, staff, and students have borrowing privileges at Brown Libraries. You must have a current RISD ID for access. Be sure your account is active with RISD's Fleet Library.

Brown Visiting Policy

To receive an access card for Brown libraries, RISD community members must check in at the Circulation Desk. Find their policies on this page

Database Access

RISD community members can only access Brown's Databases on-site. You can search and download from Brown's databases using their visitor/public computers. The public computers are located on the 1st and 2nd floor of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library and in the basement of the Sciences Library. If you have questions, ask at the Circulation Desk for help.


RISD community members can borrow up to 5 books for 4 weeks.