Archive for category Author: Geoff Kersey

Watercolour Landscapes (Trace & Paint) || Terry Harrison & Geoff Kersey

This is another compilation from the successful and valuable Ready to Paint series and is excellent value, with 15 step-by-step projects from four different books. There’s a good variety of material here, from fields and barns to buildings and seascapes, both in the UK and abroad. I have to remark that some of the subjects seem a little tenuous as landscapes – a bicycle parked against a bougainvillea-covered wall is not, in my humble opinion, a landscape – but I also feel rather picky doing it as there’s a wealth of good and varied material here.

The downside to the format is that there are 18 outlines which are fixed into the centre of the book. Tear them out and you land up with a front and a back half with no middle. I think I’d probably cut the remainder in half, but then each of them has a cover missing. There’s no way round it, but it does mean you’re going to have to make mincemeat of the book if you want to use it. Also, the outlines are printed on thin book paper rather than tracing paper, which means that you have to resort to a bit of ingenuity to get the images onto your own surface. Again, it’s not insurmountable, and it helps to keep the price down, but it’s an issue. The publisher does seem to have used thinner paper than some previous forays into the format, though, which helps.

On balance, these smallish niggles don’t outweigh the value of the book, though.

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Trees, Woodlands & Forests (What to Paint) || Geoff Kersey

As a simple guide to painting scenes in which trees are a major feature, this can’t be bettered. That seems like a rather restricted view, but it’s important to understand that this isn’t a guide to painting trees and it isn’t exactly a guide to painting them in the landscape either.

The What to Paint series is based around a series of 24 finished paintings with, on the opposite page, a general description of what they are and why and how they were painted, with detailed illustrations of specific features and a note of the colours used. Then, at the back of the book, you get outline drawings for each one that you can trace down onto your own paper. As these are printed on normal book paper this is a bit of a challenge, especially if you leave the sheets in the book. Remove them and, eventually, you’ll have torn out the whole of the second half, leaving it difficult to manage.

Although I get the general idea and I think it’s a worthy attempt, I can’t help feeling it’s ungainly and I’m really not certain whether this adds anything to the (in my opinion) much better Ready to Paint series. I presume that this is supposed to be the next stage up, but I can’t help wondering if the reader would have been better served with an extra page of technical instruction for each painting and ditch the tracings.

All that said, if you ignore those, I like the book and the work that Geoff has produced is nicely done and well varied.

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Mediterranean Landscapes in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Geoff Kersey

Once again, this consistently strong series goes for the location approach, offering something that, if nothing else, is guaranteed to appeal to the armchair traveller. As ever, though, there’s more and, if you want a guide to painting landscapes that are more than just a broad canvas, you’ll be hard put to find better. Geoff paints five nicely varied scenes including a quiet village corner, a Tuscan farm and an idealised beach. There are tracings for all of them and the usual highly detailed set of demonstrations.

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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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Paris in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Geoff Kersey

Not everyone can or wants to take all their painting gear on holiday. Part of the problem is a non-painting partner: what do they do while you’re sat there sketching away?

These location-based additions to this deservedly popular series solve all those problems at the proverbial stroke. The sketch is already there and there’s help on hand to work it up into a finished painting of five major landmarks that’ll give you a nice souvenir without it triggering a memory of arguments over who gets to choose what we do today.

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Geoff’s Top Tips for Watercolour Artists || Geoff Kersey

Geoff Kersey has an attractive and easy to follow style that has earned him a lot of fans who also appreciate his clear advice and instruction. As such, he’s a worthy addition to this rather well thought-out series that Search Press are carefully nurturing.

This latest volume includes over 100 tips that cover the technical: masking fluid, colour, shadows as well as the practical: skies, hills, trees, water, buildings, coastal scenes and snow. As ever, the coverage is quite wide, but when each section can be as small as a single picture and a short descriptive paragraph, space is not at a premium.

Not that anything’s skimped. One of the joys of these books is that they stop, snipe and move on. There’s no waffle, step-by-step demonstrations are only included when they’re really necessary and everything’s kept very much to the point. These are books to dip into as much as to read from cover to cover, though there’s an index if you need to find something specific.

Personally, I’d recommend you just buy each one as it comes out. If two authors cover the same topic, so what? Just decide which outcome you like best. And don’t wait for the all-you-can-eat bind-up either. The whole point of these is that they’re small, light and easy to pick up (and unputdownable as well).

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New York in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Geoff Kersey

Generally speaking, the Ready to Paint series has proved its worth with a huge variety of subjects and media. Here, you have tracings for five major New York landmarks – Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, The Flatiron Building, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty – that you can complete from the comfort of your armchair, either as a record of an actual visit or as an aspiring tourist. Writing this as I am when flights are grounded by volcanic ash, the book suddenly takes on a strong relevance, too.

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Watercolour Landscapes Tips & Techniques

This is another of Search Press’s bind-ups of several titles from the same series. Once again, if you haven’t already got most of the titles included, it’s very good value.

For the record, what you get is:

Painting Landscapes & Nature by Richard Bolton
Painting Skies by Geoff Kersey
Painting Water by Joe Francis Dowden
Painting Flowers & Plants by Janet Whittle

The Tips and Techniques series is aimed at artists who already have a little experience and features specific topics and subjects for them to develop their style and technique. There are step-by-step demonstrations as well as analyses of completed paintings and the whole is nicely balanced.

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London in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Geoff Kersey

This addition to the Ready to Paint series gives you pre-printed tracings for 5 London landmarks – The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The Tower and Trafalgar Square – that should be on any tourist checklist. Whether you’re making a record of an actual visit or touring from your armchair, you can produce a convincing record for the album, wall or as a gift.

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Watercolour Trees & Woodlands: Ready To Paint || Geoff Kersey

Trees can be one of the most tricky subjects for the artist because, like flowers, everyone knows when you’ve got it wrong! For all that, there are relatively few books devoted to them, largely because they are more of a landscape element than a subject in its own right: painting a landscape, all you really need is a sufficient variety of generic types with or without foliage (according to the season). The details of how a hornbeam differs from a maple are really not relevant!

Given how early in their career beginners are going to encounter this problem, the Ready To Paint series really couldn’t be better suited to the subject of trees. The approach of a printed outline sketch that you can trace, itself linked to a series of very detailed step-by-step demonstrations makes learning the tricks of the trade a relatively painless process and you really do feel that someone is holding your hand all the way.

For some subjects, there have to be reservations about this approach and care has to be taken not to allow it to descend into painting by numbers, but here it’s in its element.

Search Press 2008

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