Archive for category Author: Barry Herniman

Painting Mood & Atmosphere in Watercolour || Barry Herniman

This is an enlarged reissue of a book which first appeared in 2004. I don’t have a copy of the original to hand, so how much new material there is, and what it is, I am unable to say. I don’t however, remember it being quite this vibrant in terms of colour, so I suspect that, as well as everything else, there may have been a degree of re-origination. The only tiny fly in the ointment is that some of the illustrations aren’t quite as sharp as modern standards allow, so you may have to forgive that, if you notice it – it’s not a major problem, but one inevitably gets used to being able to analyse things like brushwork in quite minute detail.

Subject-wise, the book is mainly land and waterscapes plus a few buildings, which is about right for the topic in question. There are plenty of skies, from looming and overcast to vivid sunsets (though I do wonder whether the vividness I referred to earlier has been achieved by dialling up the red and yellow in the printing process – the book has a very orange feel to it).

Whatever these reservations, this is an excellent look at getting a sense of place into your work and Barry’s water, in particular, has that elusive sense of solidity that suggests volume and movement.

There are five full projects as well as explanations and analyses – the style of the book pre-dates the breakout hints and tips that pepper modern volumes and the text is longer than we’re perhaps used to now. If you shout “hurrah”, make a beeline for your bookshop. If you’re not sure, you may be surprised by how well a more in-depth look works and how a more relaxed pace can induce understanding.

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Watercolour Landscapes step-by-step || Geoff Kersey, Wendy Jelbert, Arnold Lowrey, Barry Herinman, Ray Campbell Smith and Joe Francis Dowden

This is another of Search Press’s bind-ups of previous material and I’m still not sure whether I’ve reviewed it before or not – or maybe in a slightly different guise. They’ve got very good at this latterly and, rather than obvious joins where one book ends and another begins, the whole thing is now seamless.

The material may not be new, but it’s still sound and the reproduction is as fresh as it ever was, so this isn’t resurrecting a corpse but bringing excellent material to a potential new audience at a very affordable price.

As well as some technical pieces on things like perspective and composition, demonstrations from popular authors cover trees, water, snow, buildings and so on (and on). If you have other books by these authors, you’d need to check for duplication but, equally, there’s so much here, you probably won’t be getting too much cross-over.

If you only have a small library and are on a budget into the bargain, you could do a great deal worse than invest in this.

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Barry Herniman’s Travelling Sketchbook

Barry Herniman is perhaps best known to practising artists for some relatively elementary manuals from Search Press, so it’s nice to have this substantial look at his “real” work.

Artists’ sketchbooks can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand you catch them unawares, as if they’ve just got up and are taking in the milk. On the other, you can get half-finished work that means a lot to them but isn’t unlike discovering someone else’s shopping list in your supermarket trolley. This book, I’m pleased to say, provides a nice balance between finished work and reproduced sketchbook pages and the latter, into the bargain, have been selected so that they do actually have meaning for the non-involved reader. These pages often have handwritten notes, but unfortunately these are quite difficult to read (they appear to have been photographed rather than scanned), although there are also printed captions where Barry explains what he was doing or what he liked about the scene reproduced.

This kind of book is always illustration-led and you wouldn’t necessarily expect (and you don’t get) any explanation of how or, for the most part, why the painting was done. Most of the work was done in Britain and Ireland, but there’s also a final section of Europe and Beyond that records wider travels, including some rather excellent Vermont maples. Introductory material includes an entertaining autobiographical section and some short notes on Barry’s working methods on location.

Given Barry’s popularity as a writer about painting, this should please fans who want to look at his work in more detail as well as collectors and armchair travellers.


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Handbook of Watercolour Tips and Techniques || Arnold Lowrey, Wendy Jelbert, Geoff Kersey, Barry Herniman

I don’t normally review bind-ups as I’ve usually covered the individual volumes previously. Sometimes, though, there’s a particular reason: the single books are no longer available, the anthology is particularly good value or maybe there’s some kind of health warning.

This one falls into the latter category. Be aware that this particular collection has appeared previously, but in a larger format. If you’ve already got a similar sounding book by the same four authors, don’t assume that this is more in the same vein, it’s the same thing.

I have to confess that the reason for issuing it in a half-size format eludes me and there doesn’t seem to have been any change of layout either, they’ve just shrunk the pages so that, unless you have 20:20 vision or some very strong reading glasses, you’re going to struggle with it. It’s also quite heavy and you need to break the spine in order to see the whole of each page properly. Even then, it’s a bit of a wrestle to get it to lie flat.

If you want Arnold Lowrey on starting to paint, Wendy Jelbert on working from sketch to painting, Geoff Kersey on perspective, depth and distance and Barry Herniman on mood and atmosphere, go for the full-size compilation, which appears to be still available. It’s a bit more, but it’s worth it.

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Watercolour Tips & Techniques || Arnold Lowrey, Wendy Jelbert, Geoff Kersey, Barry Herniman

This substantial tome packs an enormous amount of information into its 376 pages and covers basic techniques, sketching, perspective and mood & atmosphere. As such, it’s a sound course which will admirably suit those who are at an early stage in learning to paint and provides pretty much all the information they will need in order to progress. It also takes a lot of the head-scratching out of deciding which books to buy and an investment of twenty quid here is not only a solid one, but should also save money in the long run.

If you’re already a committed book buyer, though, have a careful look at the contents because this is not new material, but rather a bind-up of 4 titles which have already appeared in the similarly-named Search Press series. If you’ve already got some of these, be careful you aren’t duplicating. At twenty pounds for four books that, separately, would cost you ten pounds each, though, you can’t fault it for value.

Quite a lot of though has gone into the selection of material and the ordering of it, beginning with Arnold Lowrey’s excellent beginner’s guide (Starting to Paint) that covers all of the basics and goes on to look at techniques for capturing a variety of subjects including landscapes, seascapes, buildings and figures. Wendy Jelbert then covers the use of a sketchbook to make notes for later studio work, Geoff Kersey looks at the tricky subject of perspective and makes it easy to understand. Finally, Barry Herniman handles mood and atmosphere and shows you how to interpret your subject and use colour and brushwork to portray it in two dimensions.

If you want an introduction to painting, either for yourself or as a gift, you won’t go far wrong with this.

Search Press 2007
£19.99

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Successful And Creative Washes || Barry Herniman

Given its central place as a watercolour technique, it’s surprising how few books are devoted to the watercolour wash. The transparent nature of the medium allows thinned colours to be laid down as a foundation to a more detailed scene, as a glaze on the top of one or simply to suggest a background colour, particularly a sky. Or maybe it’s because of this: if you can’t lay a wash, maybe you really haven’t got to grips with the medium. Whichever it is, most books just start by saying “begin with a wash” and leave it at that.

So Barry’s book is all the more welcome for that. If this is the most basic watercolour technique, then this had better be the first book you buy. If you think there’s always more you can learn, then you’ll find plenty to please you here. If you know it all already, well, you won’t be bothering, probably with this or any other instructional book.

I have to confess to certain reservations about Barry Herniman’s skills as an artist: to me some of his finished paintings look far too flat and this is far from an admirable quality in a medium that demands a sureness and lightness of touch. If this bothers you too, then it’s going to get in the way of how you get on with this book, which is a pity, because Barry is particularly sure-footed when it comes to explaining the processes involved; how the painting is built up. Indeed, at the half-way stage, his works have all the qualities you’d expect – it’s only towards the end that they seem to get off course. I’m not absolutely sure, but I think he simply overdoes the amount of paint; watercolour is a transparent medium and you simply can’t build up too many layers without it becoming opaque.

Oh dear. I seem to be getting side-tracked by the paintings rather than reviewing the book, but first impressions are important and it would be wrong not to share my initial reaction. So, if you can’t trust the results, the book’s a no-no, right? Well, no because, as I said, Barry is very good at explaining the processes (it’s a truism that the best practitioners often make the worst teachers). In only 96 pages, he covers washes in skies, landscapes, foregrounds, backgrounds, water and much more and does so in a series of detailed step-by-step demonstrations that really do make what can be quite a complex process very easy to follow.

And now to the big question: should you buy it? If you want to learn more about watercolour washes, unequivocally yes. Not just because it’s about the only book there is, but because it’s so well explained. And maybe I’m wrong about the results: you’re the reader, you decide!

Search Press 2007
£9.99

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