With the popularity of abstract painting showing no sign of abating (there was a time when books on it were a drag on the market), there has for some time been space for a book that comes between the simple project-based approach and the more academic, analytical tomes.
And here we have a thoroughly practical book aimed at the serious artist who has mastered the basics and is ready to move on to more advanced techniques and interpretations. Rather than pitching straight into the dual aspects of the book’s title, Helen first deals with abstraction – colour, composition, design and interpretation, with each section having an accompanying demonstration that manages to be straightforward without being annoyingly elementary. This augurs well for the book’s balance between simplicity and taking its subject and its readers seriously.
The matter of media is now introduced, with textures, pastes, gels, watercolour, inks and acrylics all coming into the picture – or do I mean mix? This is where things start to get exciting and where the book absolutely justifies its inclusion in the Innovative Artist series. Work here takes the form of examples and shorter exercises because Helen’s aim is to get and help you to develop your own vision and voice. Where project-based books will have you completing the author’s idea of a painting, the intention here is to give you ideas to work off and to spark the imagination.
Helen deals with a broad and complex subject, but the book never feels intimidating or inaccessible, but rather draws you in, eager to find out more. An added bonus is that the binding is sewn rather than glued, which is unusual outside hardbacks. As a result, the book falls open easily in the hands and the pages are easy to view and read.
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