Archive for category Author: James Horton
Search Press have re-reissued these compilations of their Leisure Arts series of short books, originating form 1999-2004. Age is not necessarily a barrier to usefulness and these were always sound guides that offered simple advice clearly presented.
The problem with older books, though, can be that the quality of reproduction doesn’t compare well with what can be achieved today. However, there are no problems here – whether a particularly good job was done in the first place, or there has been some re-originating, I can’t say, but there are no complaints on that score. The results are therefore stonkingly good value at under a tenner each.
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I’m pretty sure that this is a bind-up of eight short guides that have been previously published – I certainly recognise Roy Lang’s Sea & Sky in Oils, but publishers are getting a lot better at the stitching-together trick these days and it’s really quite hard to see the joins here. At a mere £12.99, though, it’s hardly worth quibbling in the face of the huge variety of material you get.
Because everything runs together so neatly, it’s best to look as this as a compendium of single-subject demonstrations, albeit a themed one. Turning the pages more or less at random reveals all sorts of useful information on subjects such as on skies, light, reflections, choosing a subject, underpainting and glazing, as well as a good selection of demonstration paintings on subjects including flowers, landscapes and water.
The individual volumes were definitely something to work through, but I rather favour serendipity here. Just let the book fall open and read from there; it’s full of wisdom and good advice.
After all the quite innovative books on oil painting that have started to appear, it’s rather nice to find something that takes a rather more traditional approach.
Working largely in impasto and using more subdued colours than some of his contemporaries, James Horton paints a broad selection of landscape subjects both in the UK and across Europe. His demonstrations are fairly compact, showing the main stages of the construction of the painting rather than going into a lot of detail about individual brush-strokes and this well suits his style of painting which is not, itself, over-detailed. Each section – skies, water, trees & foliage, hills & mountains, seas & beaches, seasons – finishes off with a small gallery of complementary works which also illustrate the subject in question.
This is not a basic introduction to oil painting (there are plenty of those), but rather a look at a particular style that’s worthy of further investigation by those with a basic grasp of the medium.
First published 2007
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