This is a really rather interesting idea, because it takes the standard tools and mediums section that prefaces almost every instructional book and expands it to a thoroughly logical conclusion.
On one level, it’s a guide, albeit a very thorough one, to the tools of the artist’s trade, while at the same time relating them to the creative process. As Kate pertinently says in her introduction, “Mastery of the craft will not make you into a great artist, but having a feel for materials does seem to be a part of the creative process.” Actually, I think she’s underselling herself there because every half-decent artist I’ve ever known just loves getting their hands both literally and figuratively dirty. And you can never get them out of an art shop!
So, if rooting around in the paintbox is your idea of heaven, then this is going to be like a recipe book for a cook. You won’t be able to put it down. There’s more, though, because, apart from the artist profiles that pop up throughout, there’s also a substantial section at the end on “The Bigger Picture” that looks at things like composition, perspective, abstraction and even the Fibonacci series and the golden section (I know, me neither). This is the bit where it all stops being technical and gets creative, but I like the way it doesn’t also get vague and relates the two so that you really do understand how the medium can, if not become the message, at least formulate it.
The other thing is the simply huge variety of contributors and illustrations, mostly well outside the usual run-of-the-mill cast. This provides a sense of true discovery throughout the book.
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