In over four decades of writing about art books, this is only the second book I can remember that’s been entirely devoted to the technique of painting with a knife. The first was entirely devoted to oils and very serious indeed, as was the way with such books at the time.
It would not be unfair to say that David & Charles in their current incarnation produce books that are quite elementary and aimed at the more general craft-oriented reader than the committed, more advanced worker. This, therefore, is a project-based book aimed at producing attractive results reasonably quickly. What it is not, however, is superficial and the variety of images and ways of working will be of use to pretty much anyone who works with plastic media and wants to explore methods of impasto in more detail. Although Melissa works here in acrylics, the techniques can easily be applied to oils with no adaptation other than the use of different mediums, and maybe a little more ventilation
Melissa’s subjects are predominantly skies, flowers and trees, but also with some broader landscapes and her images are a great deal more than simple technical exercises that leave you feeling you want more. As well as knives and heavy impasto, she also adds brushwork that softens edges and details and creates recession. The exercises and demonstrations have been photographed in a raking light that reproduces the textures well and there’s never any doubt what’s going on or, for that matter, why. Melissa uses quite a bright palette but, if this isn’t to your taste, any competent artist would be able to adapt quickly.
This is more than a primer and worth waiting those few decades for.
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