The Ready to Paint the Masters series has so far left me cold, but I can see a definite merit in this one as Noel Gregory has chosen to interpret the originals rather than copy them slavishly. In the process, he manages to tell you much more about the way Renoir worked and it’s an exercise worth following as the Impressionists laid the foundation for so much of the modern approach to painting. It’s to them that we owe looseness and interpretation and the abandonment of the studied formality that had built up prior to their arrival.
For this book, Noel uses acrylics rather than oils, but in impasto, so the net effect is similar and this is not an exercise in working in another medium, but simply the convenience of what’s available now. The interpretation comes rather from allowing for all the history that has come between then and now, and not trying to paint like an Old Master. If it was a radio, it would have a retro case and modern DAB innards; a bit of a mule, but none the worse for that.
As I sometimes do, I’m going to sit on the fence on this one. I’m not going to tell you to rush out and buy it, but I do think it’s worth a look as you might be pleasantly surprised.