Archive for category Author: Janet Whittle

How to Paint Flowers & Plants in Watercolour || Janet Whittle

This is a revised and expanded reissue of a book that appeared in the Tips & Techniques series as far back as 2003. Taking it out of the series straitjacket has been worthwhile and it looks completely fresh, even if some of the reproduction is perhaps showing its age by being just a little bit coarse by modern standards. That’s one of those minor quibbles that I tend to come up with and it certainly shouldn’t put you off.

Janet’s flowers are generally images in their own right rather than illustrations of particular subjects. She makes use of both positive and negative shapes, colour contrasts, shadows and recession to create amazing effects. It’s also nice to see cobwebs, butterflies and raindrops used to enhance some of the paintings.

This is a book about creativity as much as (perhaps even more than) straightforward flower painting. It’s not really something for the beginner, even though there’s plenty of instruction, projects and demonstrations. If you enjoy painting flowers, but want to get beyond simple representation, it’s ideal.

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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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Watercolour Flowers || Janet Whittle

Janet Whittle has an approach to flower painting that is refreshingly original and really rather attractive. Rather than follow either the route of botanical illustration or the flower portrait, she combines the rather formal “floral” so beloved of American artists with a relaxed style that captures the essence of flowers rather than their every detail. It’s difficult to sum up, but try to imagine a tightly packed bed filled with blooms and you’ll have a rough idea.

The key to Janet’s style is negative shapes, all those parts which aren’t the main subject and, although these are not the main tenet of the book, you’ll find yourself learning a lot about them if you just follow what she does. The other thing she’s very good at is combining quite bright colours so that, even though the result is quite vivid, they don’t clash.

Always the problem with a very individual style is that to emulate it looks like copying and you’ll probably want to use this book for the information it provides on getting shapes and colours right rather that the overall result. However, this alone is worthwhile and Janet gives copious information on using tints, shading and gradation to produce flowers that look as if they’re actually growing rather than just being representations on a piece of paper.

This isn’t really a book for the beginner because you do need a reasonable facility both with the medium and the subject to take full advantage of it, but it’s one that would ideally suit someone who wants to take flower painting beyond that first stage and maybe even as a stepping stone to more formal work later.

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Roses in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Janet Whittle

Some quite surprising developments have been taking place in this series of late. While it started off pretty much on-message with simple guides to straightforward subjects, some genuine little masterclasses have started appearing and this is definitely one of those.

This is amazing, not because the series is going off-message, but because it turns out to be possible to do it in a format that you’d think would always tend towards the elementary. You still have the pre-drawn tracings, but all of Janet’s final results here have the feeling of being freehand work. In truth, you couldn’t paint a convincing flower portrait without an initial sketch, but there’s absolutely no sense here of that having been filled in, which is really rather remarkable.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this to a beginner in flower painting, but if you’re looking to develop skills and you want a bit of help getting the shapes right so that you can concentrate on the colours and shading, then this book is unique. In fact, even if you don’t use the tracings at all, Janet still has a huge amount to tell you.

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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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