Archive for category Author: Judi Whitton

Painting Venice || Judi Whitton

It’s a brave artist who self-publishes. Quite apart from the technical expertise required and the expense, you still need a good designer and it’s easy to think you can manage without an editor (you can’t!).

This, though, looks and feels entirely professional and you might not even know it wasn’t a commercial product if I hadn’t told you. The format is a little larger than we’re sometimes used to, but not so big that it’s hard to handle. It’s also square, which provides flexibility in layout and doesn’t favour either vertical or horizontal illustrations.

The idea of the book isn’t to be a guide to Venice, or a guide to painting Venice, but rather some ideas for the travelling painter who might be going anywhere. That could be as far as the end of the road – it doesn’t have to involve air fares and passports.

There’s an excellent variety of subject material: buildings, water, people and boats, all presented in Judi’s pleasantly loose style that creates an impression rather than a defining image. As well as completed images and stages of completion (they’re mostly not exactly step-by-steps or demonstrations), there are photographs and sketches. The text covers a great deal of practical matter: technical in relation to things like washes as well as getting about and the need to have somewhere to shelter in the inevitable rain. It all has the feel of a pleasant evening spent with an old hand before making your own first foray.

There are many reasons why you should buy this book and the fact that it’s about Venice is arguably the least of them!

Painting Venice

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Loosen Up Your Watercolours || Judi Whitton

Watercolour is a medium that is best suited to a relaxed impressionistic style, but this is something that requires confidence and no small amount of technical skill. None of this is something that can be taught, other than by a lifetime of experience. What you can learn, however, is some of the methods of working and of seeing your subject that move towards the interpretation that is at the heart of this style, for this is not so much about representing your subject has having something to say about it.

The visual lexicon does not contain a list of things you can look up: it’s not a dictionary. Rather, it’s a way of presenting your subject so that certain aspects of it are highlighted. It’s where a picture really does become worth a thousand words, where you make the viewer look at something in the way you did yourself. Already we’re struggling because it’s not something that you can really describe in words, but it’s why a poem is not the same as prose. It’s a matter of saying, “look at this” and yet it’s so much more as well.

The truth is, watercolour doesn’t come much looser than this and, if you’re a moderately experienced painter looking for a way to avoid your work looking rather flat, this probably isn’t it; it might just be too much. With luck, it’ll be extraordinarily inspirational and give you an idea of where you’d like your work to be if you could just develop the skills, but please don’t look at this as a practical painting manual so much as a book about the intellectual process of painting, the state of mind rather than the manipulation of the brush.

Probably the best way to sum the book up is to say that the foreword is by John Yardley (who admires Judi’s work) and that it also contains some paintings by John and also by John Palmer and Charles Reid. That’s the sort of style we’re looking at.

There aren’t very many books which can genuinely be classed as “advanced”, but this would have to be one of them. There are plenty of examples of Judi’s work and she talks extensively about her working methods and shows some paintings in the process of completion. Although these are billed as demonstrations, they’re not how-to in the usual sense, though.

“Inspirational”, that’s the word. And very competitive priced; this is seriously good value for money.

Year published 2005
List price: £16.99

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