This comes from a publisher and an author I haven’t heard of before and it’s always encouraging to see new faces on the block as they often bring fresh ideas and approaches to a field that can sometimes get a bit predictable.
The thing is, though, that there’s a way of doing these things, of showing how a painting is built up from the initial sketch by using a series of step-by-step demonstrations or by starting with the finished result and deconstructing it. Painting is a linear progression from start to finish and you can’t really get away from that.
This, however, is exactly what Penny Stanway is trying to do. I think it’s fair to sum this up as a guide to art as personal development – indeed the cover blurb says that it “encourages you to let yourself paint”. This is a fine idea and even a little bit “drawing on the right side of the brain” but, amongst letting your creative psyche hang out, you do need to concentrate on technical ability as well. Thump that piano by all means but, if you’re going to do it in public, do at least learn a few of the rudiments of music or risk being the subject of a noise control order.
Reading the author biography reveals that Penny is a doctor and has written on food and cooking as well as health, has been encouraged by her friends and family and is now focussing on art and painting. No qualifications or teaching experience are mentioned and I do get the feeling that collections of her work may be confined to the previously-mentioned family and friends.
So, is the book any good? As a piece of art instruction, I’d have to say no. However, if you feel that a bit of personal development is what you need to help you become aware of the beauty all around you and discover your personal artistic style, then this might be the thing that boosts your confidence and gives you the breakthrough you’ve been looking for. It’s all a bit New-Age for me, though.