David Bellamy’s Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting

There are some artists who get above the title billing and it’s traditional by now that David Bellamy’s books are not just by him, they are his own, no-one else’s. I’m being unfairly flippant, because David is one of the most popular writers and teachers of painting around, a status he has deservedly held for many years.

In the past, a lot of David’s work has been on the athletic side and he’s painted hanging off ropes from mountains and in the teeth of snow, ice and gales. This, of course, was all good knockabout stuff, but there was some excellent work underpinning it and a lot of the entertainment disguised solid and sound instruction; a lot of teachers forget that an entertained audience learns more readily. In recent times, however, a greater sense of tranquillity has entered David’s work and he’s as likely to paint the valley floors as he is the tops of the hills. It also means that there are more buildings and people and even, let if be said: flowers.

So, what does this offer that we haven’t already seen in David’s previous books? Well, a change of publisher often brings a change of pace and the move from a landscape to an upright format gives a more logical flow to the step-by-steps. There’s also, as I hinted before, a much wider variety of subject matter and overall a slightly greater emphasis on the how-to-do-it than the how-I-did-it: more step-by-step and less analysis. Just flicking through the pages gives a sense of a cornucopia and makes you want to get down to the contents in more detail. This may sound like a superficial way of judging a book, but it’s remarkably effective. If it doesn’t grab your attention as the pages flick past, the chances are it doesn’t have much to say. This one grabs hard and holds on.

Overall, I come down to the view that this is a great deal more than just another one for the fans. David’s many followers will buy it, of course, but this could (should) bring new converts, or maybe just provide a really rather quietly excellent introduction to watercolour for readers are aren’t bothered by personality.

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