Loosen Up Your Watercolours || Judi Whitton

Watercolour is a medium that is best suited to a relaxed impressionistic style, but this is something that requires confidence and no small amount of technical skill. None of this is something that can be taught, other than by a lifetime of experience. What you can learn, however, is some of the methods of working and of seeing your subject that move towards the interpretation that is at the heart of this style, for this is not so much about representing your subject has having something to say about it.

The visual lexicon does not contain a list of things you can look up: it’s not a dictionary. Rather, it’s a way of presenting your subject so that certain aspects of it are highlighted. It’s where a picture really does become worth a thousand words, where you make the viewer look at something in the way you did yourself. Already we’re struggling because it’s not something that you can really describe in words, but it’s why a poem is not the same as prose. It’s a matter of saying, “look at this” and yet it’s so much more as well.

The truth is, watercolour doesn’t come much looser than this and, if you’re a moderately experienced painter looking for a way to avoid your work looking rather flat, this probably isn’t it; it might just be too much. With luck, it’ll be extraordinarily inspirational and give you an idea of where you’d like your work to be if you could just develop the skills, but please don’t look at this as a practical painting manual so much as a book about the intellectual process of painting, the state of mind rather than the manipulation of the brush.

Probably the best way to sum the book up is to say that the foreword is by John Yardley (who admires Judi’s work) and that it also contains some paintings by John and also by John Palmer and Charles Reid. That’s the sort of style we’re looking at.

There aren’t very many books which can genuinely be classed as “advanced”, but this would have to be one of them. There are plenty of examples of Judi’s work and she talks extensively about her working methods and shows some paintings in the process of completion. Although these are billed as demonstrations, they’re not how-to in the usual sense, though.

“Inspirational”, that’s the word. And very competitive priced; this is seriously good value for money.

Year published 2005
List price: £16.99


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