Watercolour: the natural world || Tim Pond

An artist’s second book can be a challenge. Quite often, they’ve said as much as they can already and, if the subject is predominantly the same, finding a different approach that doesn’t simply repeat what’s gone before can be tricky. In his previous book, Tim pretty much wrote the definitive guide to animal drawing. True, we have a change of medium here, but the style is the broadly the same and The Field Guide to Drawing and Sketching Animals certainly didn’t lack colour.

So, Tim had a hard act to follow and quite a mountain to climb. It’s therefore a pleasure to say that, in terms of absolute triumph, Tim has scored again. A change of publisher has certainly helped, because of the shift of editorial and design priorities that brings. There is a further change of emphasis in the arrangement of the book, which is now both by season and habitat. The way books are ordered is sometimes a conceit, just a way of putting one thing after another, but this makes complete sense as you get those creatures you’re likely to find together all in the same place and also relates fur, plumage and behaviour to the time of year. It’s also noticeable that there’s a lot less anatomy in this book than there was in the previous one. It’s not lacking completely, and there when you need it but, if you want lessons on structure, see previous.

This is also, as the title implies, not just a book about animals and, when ordering by habitat, Tim also includes lessons on related matters such as deciduous trees, rainforests and savannahs. He even takes time out to explain why leaves turn brown in Autumn; it’s not essential, but piques the interest and improves your overall understanding and immersion in the subject.

The studies, lessons, exercises and demonstrations mostly occupy no more than a couple of pages, thoughtfully arranged as a spread so that you can see everything at once. Tim’s style is at once precise and yet also slightly impressionistic – he doesn’t get every detail of hair or feather with a quadruple-nought brush. The result is creatures and their surroundings that have a sense of life and potential movement that should appeal to the artist rather than the zoologist.

This is a remarkably thorough and enjoyable book that will have instant appeal to any wildlife artist, but also instruct those for whom the subject is perhaps more peripheral. To do this twice in two books is no small achievement.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

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