Barry Herniman’s Travelling Sketchbook

Barry Herniman is perhaps best known to practising artists for some relatively elementary manuals from Search Press, so it’s nice to have this substantial look at his “real” work.

Artists’ sketchbooks can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand you catch them unawares, as if they’ve just got up and are taking in the milk. On the other, you can get half-finished work that means a lot to them but isn’t unlike discovering someone else’s shopping list in your supermarket trolley. This book, I’m pleased to say, provides a nice balance between finished work and reproduced sketchbook pages and the latter, into the bargain, have been selected so that they do actually have meaning for the non-involved reader. These pages often have handwritten notes, but unfortunately these are quite difficult to read (they appear to have been photographed rather than scanned), although there are also printed captions where Barry explains what he was doing or what he liked about the scene reproduced.

This kind of book is always illustration-led and you wouldn’t necessarily expect (and you don’t get) any explanation of how or, for the most part, why the painting was done. Most of the work was done in Britain and Ireland, but there’s also a final section of Europe and Beyond that records wider travels, including some rather excellent Vermont maples. Introductory material includes an entertaining autobiographical section and some short notes on Barry’s working methods on location.

Given Barry’s popularity as a writer about painting, this should please fans who want to look at his work in more detail as well as collectors and armchair travellers.

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