Painting Skies || Geoff Kersey

It’s all John Constable’s fault. If he hadn’t been a Suffolk lad, English painting wouldn’t be so tied up in big skies. That’s the thing about a flat landscape: there’s not a lot of foreground and an awful lot of up there and, because we have an island climate, there’s a lot going on in it as well.

So, an English landscape is always going, more or less, to stand or fall on its sky and another book on the subject is always handy. This one comes in Search Press’s Watercolour Tips & Techniques series which is aimed at painters who have developed a reasonable facility but are still in the relatively early stages of the learning process. Lavishly illustrated and with plenty of detailed step-by-step demonstrations, there’s never any problem with seeing what’s going on and all of the books in the series are clearly written and presented and are easy to follow.

Geoff Kersey is a capable painter and he is particularly good at handling and demonstrating the use of washes and granulation to achieve a variety of effects that make for interesting and varied skies. If I have a quibble, it’s that maybe his foregrounds are a little bit flat and that the overall result maybe doesn’t scream “hang me on the wall” as loudly as it might, but that’s a personal preference. You’re not buying the paintings, you’re buying a book that’ll help you paint effective skies and that’s what this will do. It’s a book that’ll repay continued study and almost certainly will help you quite thoroughly on your way. It’s not one of those books that looks good but fails to deliver or one which you’ll admire like heck but know you’ll never emulate. It’s a tenner well spent.

First published 2006

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