Books on painting water appear from time to time, but ones totally devoted to the sea are by no means common. In fact, I can only immediately think of the ones by E John Robinson. As many readers will be aware, books on oil painting also tend to be conspicuous by their absence, so this one neatly fills two gaps at once.
So, it’s got a lot riding on it. If I have a reservation, it’s that Roy tends to go for the over-dramatic. It’s entirely understandable that he doesn’t really want to paint flat calm waters, although that could well be what you’d find in a broader, more general seascape, but I’m not completely sure that we need, or will find useful, quite the proportion of night-time and storm scenes he includes. As paintings, they’re impressive but, as teaching exercises, maybe a tad indulgent.
I don’t think this is something that should automatically put you off, but you do need to be aware of it as this book isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s a shame, because Roy crams an awful lot into just 64 pages – Search Press have become particularly good at making the maximum use of page space without overcrowding – and it’s worth persevering and seeing past what may, at first sight, appear to be objections because Roy is a good and helpful teacher and includes some excellently detailed step by step demonstrations.
As a book on painting the sea in oils, this doesn’t really have any competition and, all things being equal, it probably won’t have for some time to come so, if this is what you want to do, then this is the book you’re going to need. Does that mean you’re stuck with Hobson’s Choice? Well, no, not really because it’s well done and you will undoubtedly get a lot out of it, especially if it’s a subject you’re new to. Yes, there are a few pictures that you might pass over, but the rest of the book is sound and excellent value for money.
First published 2007