Part of a wider series that covers several different media, this is a handy little book that offers a potted guide to a great many painting techniques. It comes in a hard backed, spiral binding that lays flat in use so that you can consult it as you work. In fact, this is how it’s intended to be used: each of the techniques covered is dealt with in one double-page spread, so it’s nicely concise with short explanatory paragraphs and detail illustrations that show you just what’s going on and no more than necessary.
In all, there are eighty of these spreads, divided into nine sections – Getting to Know Your Medium, Basic Techniques, Advanced Techniques, Hints & Tips, Landscape, Waterscapes, Buildings, Still Life & Flowers and People. Within these, there’s everything from choosing colours and overpainting effects through blending and using masking fluid to wax resist, line & wash, trees, skies and reflections. Inevitably, just what goes where is a little haphazard – is wet-on-dry really a more basic technique than line and wash, for instance? – but it’s not disorganised and does at least serve to break the book up a bit and make it reasonably manageable. When it comes to the subject-based sections, this are a bit easier – rocks and mountains clearly belong in the Landscape section just as garden settings do in Still Life & Flowers. It would be picky to criticise the book for this, but it’s worth being aware that it’s not absolutely handed to you on a plate, you do need to find your way about for yourself a bit.
This is not an in-depth guide, nor does it pretend to be and the editors have wisely avoided referring to it as an encyclopaedia. A bible is something to be dipped into and used for reference when you want guidance on a particular point, so, in that sense, it does pretty much do what it says on the cover. You can get more book for £12.99, but you won’t get spiral binding much cheaper, so you pays your money and takes your choice on that one.
Year published: 2005
List price: £12.99