David Curtis has not been the most prolific of writers and this is, amazingly, his first book on oils since A Light Touch came out nearly twelve years ago.
Produced in association with Robin Capon, who has been finding some excellent authors for B T Batsford, this is more a look at how David paints than a prescriptive how-to-do-it manual and this is no bad thing, for David Curtis is one of those artists who is best appreciated when you have some basic skills already. David is not one of those oil painters who gets bogged down in the seriousness of the medium and produces gloomy, brooding paintings. In both watercolour and oils, his pictures are filled with light and he is a particular master of the high-contrast, contre-jour composition where a light haze often obscures some of the details of the scene.
The title of the book comes from David’s determination to record the sense of place and mood of a particular moment of time. In many ways, this is very much the companion volume to his previous book for Batsford, Light & Mood in Watercolour, where he did much the same for that medium. Both are difficult books to review because you can’t pick up a specific set of working methods or approaches to instruction because that’s not what either book is about. If you’re familiar with David’s work, then you’re going to want this and it certainly won’t disappoint. The complexity of David’s paintings make them difficult to reproduce and there have been problems in the past. The odd plate here and there is perhaps a little dark, but by far the bulk are superbly reproduced and there’s certainly no need to add a qualification to the recommendation on that score. If you haven’t discovered David’s work yet, and you’re a fan of bright, light-filled oils, then this is an inspiring book from a man who approaches his work with enthusiasm and erudition.
First published 2007