Landscapes in Watercolour (What to Paint) || Terry Harrison

This is the first title in a new series from Search Press and you’d have to say that the basic premise is a good one. As Terry explains in his introduction, it’s all too easy to find yourself with a pile of paper, a box of all the colours and every brush you might ever need and to be completely stuck for ideas. As a photographic magazine once responded to someone who listed a suitcase full of equipment and asked what else he needed to take really great pictures, “How about a couple of rolls of film?”

It’s not hard to see how this book grew out of the Ready to Paint series and, if it lives up to its manifesto, it’s certainly the next logical step. There are outlines, but they’re not tracings and we’ll come back to their limitations. What you don’t get are any step-by-step demonstrations and that’s something to celebrate. These are alright in their place, but they can get a bit pedestrian and sometimes you just think, “enough”. Instead, each painting gets just a single spread, with the finished result on the right and some details pulled out on the left, with notes about the subject and explanations of the most important elements. There’s also list of the colours used so that you can practise working with a simplified palette and developing your mixing skills.

I get the sense that the whole thing might have been Terry’s idea because it’s all so well integrated here. That can’t be a bad thing because, if the idea is going to develop and new artists are going to be brought in, it’s good to have a sound basis for it all.

I hinted earlier that there’s a drawback and it’s time to talk about those outlines. The thing is, they’re in sections and they’re printed on the normal paper of the book. This keeps down the cost and, yes, there are instructions on tracing them down using a soft pencil rubbed over the back or, better, tracedown paper, but this is laborious and I can virtually guarantee the whole thing’s going through the (closed) window after two attempts. Make that one attempt.

It’s a good idea and one that’s worth giving a try, but you’re best reckoning the outlines are a bit of an add-on. That makes £10.99 for 64 page book, which is a bit pricey, that’s all.

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