This is, in short, a book about colour written by one of its acknowledged masters.
Hazel Soan’s portrayal of light and shade is legendary and here she shares the secrets of her palette. This isn’t some dry-as-dust technical tome and there isn’t a colour wheel in sight, either (well, there is one, but it’s very basic and quite small). The book isn’t about theory but about practice and there’s an important difference, of which you’re probably all too well aware.
Colour can depict recession, shape and mood. It can also influence how the viewer sees your subject and how the different pictorial elements appear in importance. It can emphasise highlights while at the same time putting detail into deep shadows. It’s the most important tool you have.
The book is arranged, if you look at the contents list, by colour – or, rather, by the main colour groups. That’s to say, yellows, reds, blues, greens, browns and blacks, greys and whites. That’s not, you may have noticed, exactly a rainbow, or a conventional colour wheel either. As I said, this isn’t a book about theory and these are the colours you’re most likely to find on your palette. There’s plenty of information about the background to the various hues, as well as their properties when this is necessary, but much more about how and when they’re used. And, of course, every page is filled with examples that hit the spot perfectly. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that you could use this without ever reading a word and just working from the illustrations.
Like all of Hazel’s books, it’s about painting, pure and simple. Did you expect anything else?
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