The Painter’s Book of Magic || Bob Brandt

Privately published books are prone to two problems. The first is the lack of an editor, the second the lack of a designer. Editors have that degree of remove from the author, as well as the professional experience, that allows them to spot over-writing and glib assumptions. Designers work in the book world and are up to date with current trends. You may not think that look and feel matter that much and are really so much froth, but the way you navigate the book and absorb information off the pages is entirely down to them.

All of which preamble is to say that Bob navigates these hazards well. True, the book does have the feel of being laid out on a word processor, but the type is readable and the illustrations are generally in the right places. You get nul points for making the reader constantly jump about. With regard to editing, the book reads well, so I think we can tick that box too.

The magic referred to in the title is the creative process – looking, seeing, observing and recording, and this is very much an illustrated thesis. Bob examines in some detail what makes a painting interesting – how not just the subject but the composition and content engage a viewer. This isn’t a book about how to put paint on paper or canvas, but rather where and why to place it. What makes the book compelling is that Bob understands the issues involved, rather than simply sensing them instinctively, and has the ability to explain the solutions simply and elegantly. It’s a worthwhile read.

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