Charles Evans has developed a reputation as one of the best exponents of the “how it’s done” approach to art instruction currently around and he disposes of many of the technical problems that plague the beginner with confidence and aplomb.
The meat of this not insubstantial book (192 pages) is a series of 24 exercises and projects that cover landscapes, water & sky, buildings and people & animals – in short, most of the things you might want to paint. The exercises are simple one-subject sketches that show you, for example, how tree shapes work, while the projects work up a detailed step-by-step demonstration of a more complete subject. Each leads on to the other, so that practice with trees is followed with a project of a landscape consisting of fields and woodlands. Each project opens with the finished work so that you’re presented with your final goal before you start looking at the detail and this is good.
The demonstrations themselves are illustrated in some detail and the book’s designers have attempted to break up the regimented grid layout this can lead to with cascades and overlays of the illustrations. This does mean that you have to look at each page quite hard to work out where it’s going this time, but that’s not a bad thing either as it means you don’t just turn over and find yourself missing some of the stages.
All in all, you can’t fault either the approach or the execution and this is a book that will teach anyone just getting to grips with watercolour a lot.