The Painter’s Studio Handbook || Simon Fletcher

This is the sort of book I haven’t seen in perhaps twenty years. A book about the materials and equipment of painting rather than the methods of using them, other than in the most rudimentary way. And I’d have to say that the genre has come a long way in that time, with clear, full-colour illustrations that show you not only the items themselves, but also examples of the sort of results they can produce.

Flicking through, it all looks very attractive, but there’s no great sense of unity or of a theme emerging. The problem with it is that Simon assumes that your first action as an artist is going to be to equip a studio with everything you need to work in every single medium. Given that most artists start on their kitchen table, this isn’t very likely. The blurb says that he, “teaches masterclasses in drawing, pastels and watercolour at various academies in Europe and at his studio in France” and I think you have it there. If you were going to set up a teaching establishment, this book would tell you everything you need to know about equipping it. The trouble is, if you were doing that, you’d have your own very firm ideas already and I don’t think you’d need this book, or even consider someone else’s layout.

The blurb also says that the book is “a complete resource for all artists working in oils, acrylics, pastel, chalk or ink”. Up to a point, as I think I’ve demonstrated. It’s not, you see, a book about how to work in all these media, which very few people want to do anyway.

Sorry, but I can’t help feeling this is misplaced. I also can find little trace of the quoted “eight books about watercolour and pastel” Simon Fletcher has apparently written.

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