This rather original approach to teaching is aimed pretty firmly at the beginner and Ian does his best to demystify the whole process.
The book takes the form of a series of demonstrations based on a single still life composition, each section introducing a different technique. Where this scores is that you don’t get differences of palette, lighting or type of subject that only add further layers of complication. You can therefore see much more clearly what’s going on and concentrate on the technique in hand: impasto, layering, texture, erasing, sgraffito and so on. When the whole thing comes together in the final section, you can also see absolutely clearly how everything relates, how the different techniques have been applied to different parts of the subject and what effect they’ve had. You could even go through it again and vary what’s used where to see whether you can get a better result.
A couple of extra chapters at the end of the book extend the scope by covering flowers and landscapes, applying in more traditional step-by-step demonstrations what you’ve already learnt.
As a primer in pastel painting, this approach has much to recommend it but, although there’s a basic introduction to the medium, you might want to supplement it with another short introductory one as well, just to get you familiar with handling the pastels themselves.