Archive for category Author: Geoff Kersey

Take Three Colours: Watercolour Seascapes || Geoff Kersey

This is the second outing for a promising new series that breaks popular subjects down into manageable form. The idea of using just three colours (red, blue and yellow) is that there’s a minimum of fussing about with mixing. What’s impressive, though, is the range of tints and hues that Geoff manages to achieve and there’s no hint of the extremely limited palette.

These books are, as you might have guessed, aimed at the beginner and the instruction and hand-holding are comprehensive; you’re never left feeling that something has been missed out, that there was another stage in there somewhere. Handy jargon busters deal with any technical terms that may be unfamiliar.

The pictures you’ll work on are not complex images, but that’s not what you’d want. The tone and detail are nicely judged.

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Painting Perspective, Depth & Distance in Watercolour || Geoff Kersey

This is a welcome reissue of a book I was surprised to discover was first published as long ago as 2004. As well as a thorough design revamp, two new projects and several example paintings have been added. The technical section has been expanded, improving coverage of this always-difficult area.

There’s almost no end of books on perspective and they all have their own particular slant and emphasis. It’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to recommend any one simply because the subject presents problems to each of us individually. The scientific approach, with its welter of lines leading to different vanishing points, may appeal to some. For others, simplicity is the order of the day while, for yet more, that leaves too many questions unanswered. There is no sweet spot, no perfect balance of detail and simplicity: you just have to sample them all and find the one that works for you.

Geoff is an excellent explainer and has a good track record in the art instruction book field. This is a guide written for the painter rather than the technician or designer and it works almost exclusively by example. What was already a good book has been subtly but thoroughly improved. I’s have been dotted, T’s crossed and blanks filled in. The emphasis throughout is on painting and you’ll learn about single point, multipoint and aerial perspective by working with them.

This can be all very well but, just as with languages, you eventually have to get to grips with grammar, so, with perspective, you need to understand the theory. To use another analogy, it’s a bit like colour mixing. Once someone who’s really understood it explains it to you, you’ve got it. Until then, you’ll flounder. The theory section here is concise, but to the point – I said Geoff’s a good explainer – and only some half a dozen pages have the dreaded vanishing lines. Much of the rest involves painted examples as well as colour and brushwork. If it was a language, it would be Painting, not Science. It’s a bit of a masterpiece.

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How to Paint Skies || Geoff Kersey

Once again, Search Press have been raiding and renovating their backlist.

I reviewed this on its original publication in 2006, so there’s little to add here except to say that the reissue has been redesigned and that some additional material has been added from Geoff’s Top Tips for Watercolour Artists to beef up the technical sections. The result is a freshness that belies the book’s age and it feels, as it is, thoroughly up to date.

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Take Three Colours: Watercolour Landscapes || Geoff Kersey

This is a brilliantly simple idea brilliantly presented. Working with a limited palette isn’t new, of course, but working with an absolute minimum of colours removes a major element of complication that can be a stumbling block for beginners: colour mixing. What’s impressive is just how much you can do with ultramarine, cadmium yellow pale and light red. A few mixes, some washes and even a bit of drybrush gives you an impressive array of options that can produce subtle and varied results. The rule of three even extends to the brushes – less, as ever, is more.

The book itself is nicely structured and the early demonstrations are only four pages long. Sure, a cloudy sky and an evening lake are basically a foreground, a background and some middle distance, but it’s amazing what you can achieve with this. Results are the important thing and what encourage any beginner to keep going and progress. By the end, you’re ready for the simple, but complete, landscape that’s on the front cover.

If you’re new to watercolour – a complete beginner just getting started, or have maybe had a go and got lost along the way, this simple and clearly laid-out book will get you on track.

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Painting Successful Watercolours From Photographs || Geoff Kersey

This isn’t the first book on painting from photographs, but it is certainly one of the best. In his introduction, Geoff is careful to say that it is not about photography itself and that, indeed the photos illustrated may not even be the best. They are, however, representative of the sort of thing you may find in your own collection. Some may have been taken with an idea of using them as a snapshot sketch, some are a quick record of a scene or a place taken, well, just because. Others may be wrongly lit or too complicated to make a good painting.

I think it’s also fair to say that this is not a book about how to paint, insomuch as there’s an assumption that you know the basics, or have other guides. What you get is much more useful than that: a guide to how to make a successful painting from a photograph. Any photograph. What to include, what to leave out, how to change the lighting or move elements of the composition. The nearest you get to conventional instruction is a note of the palette used, which is very handy as photographs can be misleading (or even simply too dark) in this area.

There are twenty-five demonstrations in all, which also tells you that there are not masses of step-by-step details, just the salient points. Subjects cover landscapes, waterscapes, buildings, people, large vistas and intimate corners. Just about everything, in fact. Bit of a masterclass, actually.

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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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Handbook of Watercolour Landscapes Tips & Techniques || Richard Bolton, Geoff Kersey, Joe Francis Dowden & Janet Whittle

This is a reissue of a book that first appeared as a compilation in 2009 and as individual volumes between 2002 and 2006.

The difference is that it’s now a much smaller format. That doesn’t mean that the design has been changed, or the page count increased. No, it’s just been shrunk so that some of the illustrations are now postage stamp-sized. Why do publishers do this? What is the attraction of a book you have to squint to see? I’ll grant that the standard of reproduction is such that most of the pictures will stand this, but what was wrong with the A4-ish format?

It’s also a bit of an oddball contents-wise. Richard Bolton on Landscapes and Nature is on message and I’ll buy Geoff Kersey’s Skies, but Joe Dowden is exclusively water, and not really with –scapes in there either, and Janet Whittle’s Flowers and Plants are of themselves and without any setting.

At full-size, I’d also maybe buy the £12.99 price tag, but at half that, it looks a tad expensive. I suspect that it’s a book that’ll get bought as a gift. I really can’t see anyone buying it for themselves.

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