Archive for category Author: David Bellamy

Developing Your Watercolours || David Bellamy

This was the sequel to David’s immensely successful Watercolour Landscape Course and, unlike too many follow-ups, it shows that he still had plenty to say.

David is an enthusiastic teacher who clearly wants to bring out the best in his students – rather than just show them how clever he is – and also a well-organised one. There is nothing haphazard about the presentation here or in what went before, no sense that the author painted a series of more or less random demonstrations and then let the editor shoehorn them into a series of rather generalistic chapter headings.

The basic layout follows that of the Watercolour Landscape Course and the presentation, with its highlights, breakouts and checklists, means that the central message, the narrative, remains clear and uncluttered. David starts by saying that he’s assuming a basic level of ability; he’s not repeating himself here. The book deals with subjects such as painting on location, using photographs, composition, lighting and colour and David also includes tips on exhibiting, with the clear implication that, if you work with him, you should be able to finish up with something worth showing. Throughout, there are projects and demonstrations which allow David to give free rein to his own abilities and specialisations and show what he does best and is most known for. If you’re an enthusiast for David’s work, you stand a good chance of picking up something of how he achieves it here.

As with its predecessor, this is a book which has withstood the test of time and retains a freshness which is born of its clarity of approach and David’s enthusiasm and skill.

Collins reissued 2004

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Watercolour Landscape Course || David Bellamy

Somewhat surprisingly, this wasn’t David Bellamy’s first instructional book. Following on the unprecedented success of The Wild Places Of Britain, he wrote Painting In The Wild for the many readers who were clamouring to know just how he did it.

The Watercolour Landscape Course was, in fact, David’s fourth book and by this time he had built up a following as a painter and a writer and also, crucially, as a teacher. His personally-led courses were heavily over-subscribed, even if going on one did mean lengthy cross-country treks and, as like as not, dangling off the end of a rope. From all those that couldn’t make it, or didn’t have David’s stamina, came demand for a book version and it was one of the fastest-selling practical art titles there has been.

When he came to write the Course, David had a lot of experience to fall back on, both as a painter and as a teacher and as a writer, too. It was also his first book for a new publisher, Collins, who were able to bring to the party their own experience of putting together practical art books at the forefront of design and production. In many ways, it was a marriage made in heaven: the levels of knowledge and the freshness of a new relationship sparked a book that has stood the test of time remarkably well and which stands up as well today as it did back in 1993.

The book has a subtitle: From First Steps to Finished Painting and David did just that; he presents a structured course in painting landscapes that works as well whether you’re out there in the field or back home working from a photograph and it has a clear beginning, middle and end. In many ways, this straightforward approach became the template for other course-style books that followed, albeit many of them lacking David’s levels of creative imagination. The book also has, it should be said, excellent colour reproduction and you can see details of brushstrokes, granulation and paper texture that more recent books sometimes fail to pick up.

The progress of the book is a series of short descriptions or lectures mixed with demonstrations and exercises that work through a variety of subjects and painting methods. This was one of the first art instruction books to feature break-out boxes, panels that sit beside the main text and contain helpful hints and checklists that you can refer to without breaking up the main flow. Think of it as a teacher talking, painting and encouraging as well as handing out factsheets and you start to see how this really is a live course translated to the printed page. This was the book that cemented David’s reputation as one of the major figures in art teaching of the present day and gained him many fans who have also bought his six subsequent books.

Collins reissued 2004

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Painting Wild Landscapes In Watercolour || David Bellamy

David Bellamy is best known for teaching and painting in some of the most inaccessible places and there are many people who do not have either the stamina or, perhaps, the will to keep up with him. This book provides an insight into David’s working methods for them as well as a further “fix” for his many fans.

This book covers ground that David has already visited in Painting in the Wild, but brings the story a bit more up to date and includes more recent paintings. It is interesting to note that many of these include oases of calm which used not to be there and indicate a slightly less frantic approach which some readers may welcome. A double-page spread of the Matterhorn is a case in point, where the jagged peak rises against a dramatic sky (one of David’s trademarks) from a verdant meadow complete with a still lake and even a couple of grazing deer.

David’s travels here take him around the British Isles as well as to other parts of the world and he explains his working methods and techniques for painting many different types of subjects as he goes so that the book is entertaining as well as instructional.

The book is packed with David’s paintings, both the large-scale and dramatic and also smaller details which concentrate on specific areas of technique as well as by-the-way observations and sketches. Although they are generally well reproduced, a few have the hallmarks of having been taken from perhaps less than adequate transparencies and one wonders whether the art editor shouldn’t perhaps have rejected them. But that’s a minor quibble.

Year published: 2005
List price: £17.99

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