Archive for category Author: Ann Mortimer

Ready to Paint in 30 Minutes – street scenes, flowers

There was much to like about the old Ready to Paint series. The pre-drawn outlines and extended demonstrations made light work of a wide variety of subjects.

This new departure is more than just a re-vamp or extension of the original idea. In place of the complete paintings, there are thirty-odd smaller exercises that concentrate on a particular element of the subject, or a technique in the medium. Being A6, they can be completed in the field if you want, and using a pocketable watercolour pad (the series is all watercolour so far). The finale is 3 full-size (A4) paintings that bring everything together – the full orchestral run-though, as it were.

The approach is nicely progressive and these first two volumes cover subjects (street scenes and flowers) that benefit from the breakdown approach. Two more are in the pipeline for next year . There’s a pleasantly solid feel to the books and plenty of technical sections, hints, tips and generous instruction in the step-by-steps.

The original series went a long way and this deserves to as well.

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Orchids in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Ann Mortimer

There’s a good variety of material here and it’s very well executed. Ann has taken the Ready to Paint format well beyond the basic fill-in-the-outlines approach and uses tints and shading to give depth and substance to her subjects.

Orchids are, as she says, “exotic, sensual and mysterious” and they offer plenty of challenges and opportunities as a subject. As an exercise in flower painting in general, on top of its specific subject, this is an excellent guide.

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Watercolour Flower Painting Step-by-Step || Wendy Tait, Jackie Barrass, Richard Bolton & Ann Mortimer

This is an interesting bind-up, as the publisher has chosen to attempt a comprehensive manual on flower painting by taking complementary sections from several previous books.

On balance, I’d say that it works. I tend to be wary of this sort of approach because, all too often, it looks like a scissors and paste job, and shoe-horning together stuff that was never intended to be more than a chapter requires time and skill. I’m therefore pleased to say that this seems to have been overcome and that it’s not at all easy to see the joins.

One of the reasons, I think, is that there’s been no attempt at democracy – all the authors are not equally represented so, if you think you’re getting four for the price of one, you’re not. This is a book that stands on its own and is all the better for that.

Having more than one author can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you get the best approach for each section; on the other, you get a lack of continuity. Flicking quickly through, however, doesn’t reveal any great changes of style and I suspect that this again comes down to the choice of material and perhaps also to the production – maybe the colours were more markedly different in the original books (I can’t say for sure), but they have a consistency here.

As for what you get, the book is mostly a series of exercises and demonstrations. For once, I could maybe have wished for a little more on materials and basic techniques at the beginning – this is meant to be for the beginner, after all.

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Flowers in the Landscape || Ann Mortimer

This is a useful guide to flowers as an element within a larger painting rather than as a subject in themselves. Given that flowers feature in many landscapes this is timely, although there are a couple of demonstrations where the surrounding landscape rather seems to have disappeared and the flowers are, perhaps, more prominent than you might at first think. This isn’t necessarily a let-down, but if you were expecting less defined shapes and blocks of colour in place of quite a lot of botanical details, let’s say you might be surprised. If it’s the former you’re looking for, then you might find that Terry Harrison’s Watercolour Flowers fits the bill rather better.

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