Creative Oils || Gemma Guasch & Josep Asuncion

Derived from a Parramon original this displays that publisher’s somewhat scattergun approach where pages are peppered with illustrations, giving the feeling of a cornucopia of information and encouraging a dive-in method of access, rather than a start-to-finish one. This could easily be confusing, but it’s something they’ve been doing for years and is, to an extent, their trademark. The result is therefore more of a voyage of discovery and serendipity (which just might be this site’s favourite word – I’ll have to get back to you on that) than a planned and structured course.

At the beginning there’s the brief introduction to materials and techniques which pretty much every book feels it has to include. It’s not unkind to say that this is no better and no worse than any other: it’s unlikely to tell you anything you didn’t know already, given that what follows is really more for the experienced painter than the raw beginner, but at least it’s concise. The rest of the book is taken up with Creative Approaches: 14 subsections that look at a wide variety of subjects and techniques including textures, glazing and impasto applied to flowers, still lifes, figures and buildings.

Because this is not a structured book, you can’t say: this is what you will learn, this is what the authors will show you. Rather, as I said before, it’s something to dip into pretty much at random. Do that and your chances of pulling out a plum are great (though do please remember to wipe your thumb afterwards). Rather than work through at someone else’s pace, you can start from something that catches your eye and expand outwards from that. There are so many different interpretations here that you’re not going to stop at just a page or two; this is something that’ll have you exploring and probably seeing the same things in different ways at each reading. Good oil painting books are thin on the ground, so grasp this with gratitude.

New Holland 2008

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