Although this isn’t actually a new book, it looks like it and the editors have done a good job on updating what was already an excellent idea that has stood the test of time well.
The book is organised into a logical sequence that begins with a section on Preparing To Paint, which deals with preparing canvases, stretching paper, priming and so on. The layout here shows us how the book is going to progress, with each section given a double-page spread with plenty of pictures and simple, short captions that explain what you’re looking at. From here, you get Making A Start, Ways Of Working, Special Techniques and then Themes, which is a rather neat way of working from a technique-based approach to something more practical, where you look at techniques in action in portraits, landscapes, waterscapes and so on.
A lot of people will tell you that painting isn’t, or shouldn’t be, about the technical stuff but rather about expressing your creativity and that’s fine as far as it goes. However, you still need to know how to mix colour, use resists, drybrush, glazing and all that in order to be able to get the effects you want. If you went on a course, this is what they’d teach you but, if you’re working on your own, you need something to help and this mixture of the encyclopaedia (the book grows out of the encyclopaedia series) and the practical guide will give you a lot of help all in one place.
This was a good book when it first appeared and it’s a measure of its fundamental quality that it still is.