It’s as hard to pin down exactly what this book is about as it is to gather that from the title. Even a quick flick through, however, will reveal that what you get is a masterclass in what can be done with paint and I’m not sure that it really matters what the medium is. In her introduction, Soraya French refers to acrylics as “a forgiving and versatile medium”, which indeed it is, “that is a great tool to enable both the newcomer and the more experienced artist to process their thoughts and ideas with more confidence.” She also remarks that the medium has found its place, being taken seriously alongside more traditional media.
All of this is true and I don’t intend as a criticism that it’s also a truism. Professional artists have been using acrylics for many years motivated, I think, by the quick-drying properties that allow them to paint it today and sell it tomorrow. This adoption has understandably filtered down to the amateur market and, with the development of retarder mediums, it has become much easier to handle.
The versatility that Soraya French refers to is the fact that acrylics can be used both in a heavy impasto, like oils, or thinned down to act like gouache. The fact that it is also opaque makes overpainting possible and also the correction of mistakes, which is why it is ideal for the beginner.
So far, so much I’ve said already about other books. What marks this out is that it’s one of the first books (although I think John Hammond just beat her to it) to look at acrylics from the creative point of view rather than just being a technical manual and, in this respect, what’s said in the introduction is spot on.
If you want a book that will teach you how to paint in acrylics, this is not it; there are no step by step demonstrations and the paintings illustrated are quite complex. However, if you’re looking for ideas and a study of creativity, along with other books in this series, this is it.