DVD: Painting The Light In Watercolour || Cecil Rice

Books and films about painting the light usually treat it as an adjunct to capturing a more general scene – reflections in water, highlights on waves, perhaps the bright colours as the sun shines through a beach windbreak. We’re talking David Curtis here, aren’t we?

In this film, however, Cecil Rice treats light as a subject in its own right. It’s an interesting approach and not one totally without merit, although I think you’re bound to land up thinking, “does he really do that all the time?” Well, rather amazingly, having had a look at his website, I think the answer is yes. To be fair, it’s not quite as overt as it is here, and these paintings are demonstrations done to illustrate a point, but the style is definitely prevalent.

So, the sixty-four-thousand dollar question: do you want to shell out the best part of thirty quid for something you’re probably not going to emulate? Alright, the thirty-quid question. Pedant. I think the answer to that depends on who you are and what you want to do. There’s a surprise! What I mean is that, if you really want to get to grips with light, then looking at it this way will concentrate the mind wonderfully and develop your techniques by leaps and bounds. If you’ve only got the aforesaid thirty smackers, you might think twice and spend it on something more general.

So, let’s say you’ve shelled out, what do you get? In a nutshell, three demonstrations (a sunrise, an illuminated night-time scene and a sunset), a general introduction that includes a good ten minutes spent squeezing out colour, and a gallery. I mentioned the paint-squeezing thing because Cecil is either rock-solid on the use of materials or a terminal bore, depending on whether he has insights for you or not. I’m not fully decided on the matter, but you need to know as it could spoil the film for you. All artists feel they have to tell you about their favourite brushes and how they use them in a way that’s totally unique and, you know what? They’re pretty much all the same. They have hairs attached to a wooden handle and they hold paint. (And so do the brushes). Personally, I’d much rather have, “and here you can see how I’m using the point/edge of the brush to create fine detail/imply a shape.” The rest I can work out for myself. Seeing it in action is much better than a five minute lecture.

As you can see from this, I’m very much ambivalent about this film. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I’m not sure I like it that much. You might buy it and have it on repeat, or you could watch it once and never really get round to it again. A Marmite one, I think.

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