Now, a couple of years later, as I'm learning more anatomy, drawing a lot, teaching more and thinking about Rembrandt along with other things artists noodle on, I picked it up to re-read it. A painting buddy saw the book and asked "Do you get anything from that book because I didn't get much from it". I laughed because here is a book that's highly recommended and both of us had the same response.
Now, as I'm reading it again - the book is more useful. Particularly as a teacher. This time, I noticed the fact that Hale points out the biggest mistakes that beginners make and found myself evaluating those comments against my work and the way I teach. Additionally, the anatomical notes are more useful along with the comparison of ways that artists solved different problems. How I missed these things the first time defies my understanding but I guess it doesn't matter.
Interestingly, the book has actually helped me appreciate contemporary painters more. I realize how truly great the current generation of artists is. That awareness is causing me to ponder the open way we learn from many sources today because we have fewer travel and information transfer limitations. (But I digress - that's a topic for another day) Finally ... the book gives an artist permission to "make things up" which is something I had stopped doing.
This shift in my opinion is a bit humorous to me, but it's sincere. If you've read the book, love it, hate it or fall somewhere in between, feel free to send in your opinions.