The history of art publishing is littered with hints and tips books, Q&A guides and troubleshooters. This is not dissimilar to all those approaches, but comes with a reassuring title and the provenance of a popular and established tutor. Charles’ reputation rightly precedes him.
The first thing to say is that this is much more than just a lazy rehash of what has been done before, which my earlier description might have suggested. The implication in the title that things can and do go wrong is an honest one and we’re starting from a point which doesn’t pretend the opposite. What really marks the book out as different, though, is that the “mistakes” aren’t just cartoon versions painted deliberately badly to make a point. In fact, just glancing through, you might wonder what exactly the problem is. This is because not everything is wrong at once. That inharmonious landscape looks relatively acceptable until Charles points out that the blue used for the water is too deep. The revised version, using slightly less pigment is better, but not the game changer you’ll usually find in this kind of book.
There are 75 suggestions in this pocket-sized book, which has a nicely soft cover that makes reading without breaking the spine easy. None occupies more than 4 pages, and frequently less. It’s succinct – identify, analyse, get out. Where the sections are longer, a little more work is required and there may be half a dozen or so stages. For the most part, it’s a simple fix, largely because the error (if we can call it that) is relatively minor.
You could, I suppose, pack this with your painting kit and take it on location with you. Whether you really pull out a portable library on your travels, I doubt. I think the best approach would be to keep it by your chair or bed and dip into it. You’ll have plenty of “oh, that’s where I’m going wrong” moments and simply not make that mistake again. You might even get some ideas for new approaches as well. It’s fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
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