Terry Harrison’s Watercolour Flowers

This comes fairly hot on the heels of Watercolour Mountains, Valleys & Streams and Watercolour Trees in the same series. One would have to say that’s a lot of Terry Harrison in quite a short space of time and one does have to wonder why the publisher didn’t space them out a bit. There’s no doubt that Terry Harrison is a popular teacher and there is certainly a demand for his books, but publication at this frequency must surely tend to limit purchasing to his most ardent fans?

The first thing to say about this book is that it’s not about flower painting. That’s not necessarily a negative but, if you’re expecting the master’s approach to this popular but tricky subject, you won’t find it here. You might also be thinking, “I didn’t know Terry was a flower painter” and you’d not be wrong.

However… All this is not a bad thing. For a start, flower painting is being done to death at the moment (Summer 2006) and not another book on it is no bad thing. It also has to be said that it’s a big subject and 48 pages really isn’t enough to do it justice. But, like I said, this isn’t a book about flower painting. So what the bright blue blazes is it then? Well, it’s flowers in the landscape, that’s what it is and it’s a subject I can’t remember being touched since the Jill Bays book of that title some ten years ago. In actual fact, and this is where the short publication interval starts to make sense, it’s part 3 of Terry’s un-named series on landscape elements: trees, mountains valleys & streams and flowers. It’s all starting to make perfect sense and maybe a series title would have been a good idea. Or maybe they’re planning to bind them all up into one hardback later, in which case won’t you kick yourself for having bought three separate volumes?

The thing is that not everyone wants to be a flower painter and yet, if you’re going to paint landscapes, you’re going to have to make a fist of at least the basic effect of flowers in a hedgerow or at the edge of a field and this is what Terry shows you how to do here. He explains how to get the simple shapes right so that you get convincing groups of flowers without resorting to amorphous blocks of colour and without going into any sort of detail. It’s actually pretty much what he did with trees and that worked a treat. If you’re a landscape painter, it’s a pretty valuable addition to the armoury.

First published 2006

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