Archive for category Author: Grahame Booth
Search Press have become adept at producing series that include books that stand on their own merits rather than simply fitting into pre-defined slots. Much of that is down to having as simple an idea as possible. As a result authors don’t need to go into contortions to get the correct shape and are free to express themselves as they normally do. This makes the whole idea easy to explain to those same authors so that everyone has a clear idea of what’s required. That, of course, is the key to any successful book, but it’s surprising (and rather alarming) how often it gets missed. If everyone’s pulling in different directions, the dog’s sure not to miss out on its dinner.
All of which is a preamble to saying that I like this a lot. Snow is as tricky a subject as water: it’s one of those things that isn’t really there. Water relies on reflection, but snow can be even more difficult. No, it’s not just matter of a large tube of titanium white or areas of paper left intentionally blank. Snow doesn’t reflect exactly, and it has an identifiable form in a way that water doesn’t, but it takes its appearance from the light and shade that fall on it. Cue plenty of opportunities for over-complication and far too many colours in the mix.
And, as if by magic – 3 colours and 3 brushes. Less is more, simplification is always going to be your friend. As the nights draw in and who knows what precipitation the weather will bring, here’s a guide that will tell you all you need to know. No, not everything – that would be a tall order in just 9 projects – but enough for you to understand what’s happening on your palette, brushes and paper and you didn’t really need more than that, did you?
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This new series builds on the theme of the hugely successful Ready to Paint books and provides outlines pre-printed on watercolour paper. I’ve looked for a watermark, but can’t find one, so it’s very much a take-it-as-it-is option. This shouldn’t matter, however, as these are very much aimed at the beginner and, as long as the material doesn’t have any particularly difficult characteristics, just having it there ready to use should be fine. You still have to provide your own paint and brushes, of course, but there’s a handy list of What You Need in the concise but informative introductory section to each book. Given the level of skill this is aimed at, getting the right balance between thoroughness and not being so detailed as to be off-putting is a difficult thing to judge. The decision here has been to start on practical work as soon as possible and develop skills there.
The core of each book is a series of six projects with detailed step-by-step-illustrations. There’s plenty of hand-holding and a very real sense of having a guide and tutor at your shoulder throughout. A nice touch is the suggestion of making copies of the outlines so that you can practice and repeat the exercises without the pressure of having to get it right first time or waste the material provided. This is advice any newcomer would be advised to follow as (spoiler alert), art isn’t something you can pick up in a few minutes.
There’s much to like here, quite apart from the approach and presentation. The books are spiral bound inside a substantial hard cover and the attention to detail includes an elasticated band that holds the whole thing together in the manner of a portfolio. It’s very professionally done and makes the student feel both taken, and that they’re taking it all, seriously.
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There was much to like about the old Ready to Paint series. The pre-drawn outlines and extended demonstrations made light work of a wide variety of subjects.
This new departure is more than just a re-vamp or extension of the original idea. In place of the complete paintings, there are thirty-odd smaller exercises that concentrate on a particular element of the subject, or a technique in the medium. Being A6, they can be completed in the field if you want, and using a pocketable watercolour pad (the series is all watercolour so far). The finale is 3 full-size (A4) paintings that bring everything together – the full orchestral run-though, as it were.
The approach is nicely progressive and these first two volumes cover subjects (street scenes and flowers) that benefit from the breakdown approach. Two more are in the pipeline for next year . There’s a pleasantly solid feel to the books and plenty of technical sections, hints, tips and generous instruction in the step-by-steps.
The original series went a long way and this deserves to as well.
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