Archive for category Author: John Raynes

The Complete Guide To Perspective || John Raynes

Another welcome reissue of a John Raynes title in paperback and one which, if I’m not mistaken, addresses a production issue where, in the original hardback, some of the illustrations were a little bit faint.

John is best known for his books on figure painting, but he is generally a technical master and this is a typically thorough and intensive look at the use of perspective in pretty well anything you could want to paint. Most books on the subject tend to fall onto one of two camps: the technical or the artistic, the former being short on the painterly and the latter on the actual techniques. John, as you’d expect, manages both. This isn’t a book to skim through, but one which requires and repays persistent study and practice.

If perspective doesn’t bother you, then this book needn’t either. You may be completely at home with the techniques or you can’t see the point. However, if it’s something you want or know you have to get to grips with, you won’t find a better or a more comprehensive guide.

Batsford, paperback reissue 2008

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The Complete Watercolour Course || John Raynes

Complete Course books have always been a bit of a mixed blessing, especially in the more specialised market which tends to demand something a bit more tailored to specific styles or subjects. There a lot of similar complete beginners’ guides which are a slightly different category but nevertheless offer a useful introduction, allowing the reader to experience as many different styles of painting as possible before deciding what suits them best.

However, when you get a complete course from John Raynes, you sit up and take notice. John is a respected painter and an experienced author and his many books have been well received and are valuable additions to the canon of practical art literature. He has a fairly loose style which may not appeal to everyone – and I think would specifically not be hugely helpful to a beginner – but it’s one which conceals a great degree of artifice and technical ability and he can be absolutely precise on detail when he needs to be.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this as something for a beginner but, if you’ve got a bit of experience – or even, it has to be said, a lot of experience – and you’re looking for the elusive next stage, John has much to tell you., both about the practice of handling paint as well as the treatment of a wide variety of subject matter.

First published in 2004, this is a welcome reissue in paperback.

Batsford reissued 2008

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The Complete Drawing Course || John Raynes

John Raynes is an experienced artist and has written a great many books, all of them deservedly well-received and this paperback reissue of one which first appeared in 2002 is timely and welcome.

There are many drawing courses and the buyer can afford to pick and choose. Most of them are good and many are excellent, so which one you buy will largely depend on your preference of author. John Raynes has a slightly loose style that looks relaxed and easy but is, in fact, the result of a great deal of painstaking work. Usually, work like this results in drawings that are quite tight and photo-realistic, but John always retains the quality of a sketch that makes his work easy on the eye if, perhaps, difficult to emulate.

The book consists of a series of step-by-step demonstrations of just about any subject you could want to draw and is divided into sections that group form and volume, perspective, structure and texture as well as subject types: still lifes, landscapes, buildings and portraits. There’s a lot here and you can either follow it in a logical progress or dip in and practise specific items depending on your mood and level of ability. Any book by John Raynes has the air of a masterclass, so there’s something here that will appeal pretty much to everyone.

Batsford reissued 2008

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Complete Anatomy And Figure Drawing || John Raynes

John Raynes has pretty much cornered the market in books on drawing and painting the human figure and it is a measure of his skill and depth of understanding that he has produced such a number without repeating himself and continuing to have something worthwhile to say.

This is an exhaustive study of human form and structure, as detailed as an architectural handbook or car maintenance manual. With the aid of colour coded drawings that are little works of art in themselves, John explains, in terms aimed at the artist and not the medical student, how the human body fits together and moves. Follow his tutorial through and you will understand the complex machine that the body is, how one part blends into another and how one movement provokes and influences another. Poetry in motion is what it becomes.

More than half the extent is taken up with this textbook stuff, but it’s not something you can hurry and John sensibly resists all temptation to do so. The reward for your effort in following it is what follows: a masterclass in drawing and painting a series of complete poses and compositions that simply come alive on the page. John, as we know, is supreme at this kind of thing but work with him and you too will stand a chance of getting at least somewhere near him.

Batsford 2007

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Draw Series

Looking at this series, which has just been reissued, it comes as a surprise to realise that it was first published in 1981, making most of the volumes over 25 years old. All too often, publishers look at their backlist with an uncritical eye that seems to overlook developments in style and design that they themselves have done much to push forward and eagerly reissue titles that just look tired and do their list no favours at all. However, the initial impression here is of a freshness and clarity that many more recent books would do well to emulate.

Each book is a mere 48 pages but, at £4.99, very competitively priced and covers a remarkable amount of ground. By sticking to a single subject, the general preamble is kept short and the authors are able to get stuck straight in, covering all the main areas right from the start. Text is kept to a minimum, giving the greatest prominence to the artwork itself and it is this, as much as anything else, that contributes to the longevity of the series as art instruction books have moved away from lengthy discursive text to shorter descriptions which mainly take the form of extended captions. This, in itself, has been driven by advances in printing technology which has provided illustrations which are nearly as good as the original itself.

These books are excellent primers for the novice and will encourage as well as educate.

Reissued 2007
£4.99 per volume

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