Collins Complete Artist's Manual || Simon Jennings

This book is a reworking of some of the material that previously appeared in Collins Artist’s Manual and Collins Art Class. By selecting sections from both titles, as well as enlarging the format, the publishers have created a weighty tome (nearly 400 pages) that has visual as well as practical appeal and provides a comprehensive overview of the world of painting.

Just opening the book is a bit like diving into a bazaar. There’s a wealth of material, both pictorial and written, on every page with complete paintings, colour swatches, technical details and graphical tips shouting for attention. All of this isn’t something that can be taken in all at once and, although the initial reaction might be to shut the book in fright, progression and perseverance will be rewarded. Simon Jennings is a capable artist and writer and what he has to say is worth listening to, but he is also a book designer, so the way he says it is just as important. If a slim volume of watercolour is a simple melody, then this is full-on bebop jazz, something you have to be attuned to before you can appreciate it fully.

This isn’t a book that you should really try to work through in any kind of logical progress, but rather one to pick up, open at random and then wander around as serendipity takes you. There’s stuff about materials, techniques, composition, landscapes, portraits, water – well, just about everything in fact and illustrations by a huge number of different artists in many different styles as well as media.

Year published: 2005
List price: £30

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