Archive for category Author: Hazel Harrison

The New Encyclopaedia of Watercolour Techniques || Diana Craig & Hazel Harrison

In an age when we’re all being encouraged to recycle, I suppose it’s inevitable that publishers start to raid their back catalogues in order to beef up their front lists. Usually, all this does is prove that, however good a book may have been in its day, unless it’s a consistent seller on its own, it’s usually best left to gather dust while the world moves on.

However, in the case of Search Press and the Encyclopaedia series (which started life with Headline when they were a young, niche publisher), a little – and surprisingly little, too – redesign work has freshened what was already a good idea up no end. What I was implying before was that you can’t breathe new life into a corpse. It’s surprising, though, what you can do with some minor surgery, a shot of botox and a new hair-do.

The basic layout here consists of three main sections: Tools And Materials, Techniques and Picture Making. The first two are pretty much self-explanatory, with things such as washes, drybrush and brushwork getting a double-page spread each with nice clear illustrations and extended captions that explain what you’re looking at. The final section continues in much the same vein, but gets into more general areas such as choosing a palette, the use of body colour and how to create textures. The aim throughout is not so much to create a linear course that you can follow from start to finish, but rather to give you reasonably detailed (but not exhaustive) coverage of the techniques that others books may just refer to. It’s something to have on the shelf for reference, but it’s also entertaining enough, through the extensive use of illustrations, to be worth simply leafing through from time to time to see what catches your eye and, hopefully, sticks in your mind.

Buy it on Amazon

Leave a comment

The Search Press Guide to Painting Techniques || Elizabeth Tate & Hazel Harrison

Although this isn’t actually a new book, it looks like it and the editors have done a good job on updating what was already an excellent idea that has stood the test of time well.

The book is organised into a logical sequence that begins with a section on Preparing To Paint, which deals with preparing canvases, stretching paper, priming and so on. The layout here shows us how the book is going to progress, with each section given a double-page spread with plenty of pictures and simple, short captions that explain what you’re looking at. From here, you get Making A Start, Ways Of Working, Special Techniques and then Themes, which is a rather neat way of working from a technique-based approach to something more practical, where you look at techniques in action in portraits, landscapes, waterscapes and so on.

A lot of people will tell you that painting isn’t, or shouldn’t be, about the technical stuff but rather about expressing your creativity and that’s fine as far as it goes. However, you still need to know how to mix colour, use resists, drybrush, glazing and all that in order to be able to get the effects you want. If you went on a course, this is what they’d teach you but, if you’re working on your own, you need something to help and this mixture of the encyclopaedia (the book grows out of the encyclopaedia series) and the practical guide will give you a lot of help all in one place.

This was a good book when it first appeared and it’s a measure of its fundamental quality that it still is.

Leave a comment

The Landscape Artist’s Drawing Bible || Hazel Harrison

Look up the series in the categories link below and you’ll see how much I like these books. Imaginatively produced and well illustrated, they offer a great deal of information in a compact space and earlier volumes have sold in, well, volume.

Now that the media titles have been disposed of, the editors are moving to subjects and this new title offers a huge variety of images and techniques and covers pretty well all the drawing media in both black, tone and colour.

None of the titles in the series follows exactly the same format inside, rather following what’s suitable for the matter in hand. Here, you start with a section on media and marks, essential for the beginner, but maybe one to skip through for the more experienced artist. The bulk of the book is then taken up with a series of techniques and tutorials that introduce shapes, tonal values, colour, perspective and so on. Just about every type of landscape (including townscapes) and landscape feature is covered and there are more in the gallery section and the very handy photo gallery that provides real-life images for your own interpretation (another neat and original touch).

Search Press 2008

Leave a comment

  • Archives

  • Categories