Archive for category Author: Anna Mason

Anna Mason’s Watercolour World

I notice that I had reservations about the reproduction in Anna’s previous book. I’m pleased to say that the same does not apply here and this is, indeed, an absolute delight.

The basis of the book is a series of natural subjects: birds, animals, flowers, leaves and fruit and, in each of the demonstrations, Anna shows you how to build up colour and details in layers. An added feature is the oversize final illustration which allows you to see the brushwork in considerable detail; this is where the quality of reproduction really counts. Any unsharpness here would render the book useless.

This is one of Search Press’s larger format offerings and they’ve made good use of the real estate by providing space on the pages and allowing quite a lot of white paper. The result is an overall feeling of lightness that’s enhanced by the rather surprising number of pictures of the author painting in a sunlit garden. Are these absolutely necessary: unequivocally, no. Do they intrude or detract from the content: again, no. In fact, I think they actually add to the overall experience by providing a warmth and lightness and a sense of Anna’s presence in the text.

The sense I get from the book is of a pleasant afternoon spent with a congenial companion and teacher. There are the demonstrations I’ve mentioned already, but also more general advice on technique, composition, form, structure and style – how naturalistic do you want to be?

In this respect, the book is absolutely sound and, although I’ve made quite a lot of the overall experience, the quality of the instruction, which is what ultimately matters, is of the best.

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The Modern Flower Painter || Anna Mason

This really rather attractive book is pitched somewhere between the basic guides to flower painting and the more technical botanical illustration works. Anna Mason’s technique involves a six-stage process that starts with the highlights, which are normally in the centre of the flower, and works outwards, adding details, tints and contrasts so that shapes and depth are built up progressively while preserving the main form. There is also plenty of information on painting methods and the use of colour, but these assume a reasonable amount of basic knowledge, so that you don’t spend half the book wading through stuff you should know already.

The overall approach is busy and varied and the concentration is on the painting rather than the flowers – that’s to say, it’s about creating a work of art rather than recording a specific species. There is, however, plenty of variety (more than varieties) and examples of different flower types, shapes and colours. If you’re looking for a book that takes you on from the basics but isn’t obsessed with botanical details, this would be perfect. The demonstrations, while working within the aforementioned six-stage process, have a reasonable number of steps so that while you’re not shown every brushstroke, neither are you pitched from one completed section to another and wondering how you got there.

My only reservation is that the reproduction appears a little coarse and sometimes seems to obscure detail.

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