I’m always a bit wary of saying that something may be the best ever, because almost immediately something else comes along and I have to find a way of saying it’s even better. I’m probably on safer ground with this, though, as pastels are definitely the Cinderella medium, with relatively few books written about them. The strange thing is, though, that there are almost no truly bad ones. It may be that the medium only really attracts the committed artist who’s spent time developing their craft, or maybe publishers are more selective. Whatever it is, most pastels books are good and this is quite possibly the best ever.
Let’s start by saying what it’s not: it’s not a beginner’s guide. Yes, there are step-by step -demonstrations, yes there are chapters on materials and techniques, but they all assume a degree of prior knowledge. This isn’t a way of warning you off if you want to learn the medium, though there are enough basic guides available that you should maybe start with. Rather, it’s a whoop of delight to find a book that treats you as a grown-up, that says, “Add highlights to the centre of the right hand poppy. Tidy up the edges of the main flowers and freshen the colours” and assumes you don’t need any more detail than that.
This is a book that sells itself. All you need to do is pick it up and flick through the pages and there’s no chance you won’t buy it. There’s just so much variety, from people and animals to landscapes and seascapes, fine-detail and broad-stroke work. Techniques include the relatively new idea of adding water and spirit to free the pure colour the medium contains. I usually manage to come up with a list of things a book is packed with, but this is packed with everything. It’s a celebration of the medium that’s going to delight and enthuse any pastellist.
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