Archive for category Author: Julie King

The Paint Pad Artist (Watercolour Landscapes || Grahame Booth/Watercolour Flowers || Julie King)

This new series builds on the theme of the hugely successful Ready to Paint books and provides outlines pre-printed on watercolour paper. I’ve looked for a watermark, but can’t find one, so it’s very much a take-it-as-it-is option. This shouldn’t matter, however, as these are very much aimed at the beginner and, as long as the material doesn’t have any particularly difficult characteristics, just having it there ready to use should be fine. You still have to provide your own paint and brushes, of course, but there’s a handy list of What You Need in the concise but informative introductory section to each book. Given the level of skill this is aimed at, getting the right balance between thoroughness and not being so detailed as to be off-putting is a difficult thing to judge. The decision here has been to start on practical work as soon as possible and develop skills there.

The core of each book is a series of six projects with detailed step-by-step-illustrations. There’s plenty of hand-holding and a very real sense of having a guide and tutor at your shoulder throughout. A nice touch is the suggestion of making copies of the outlines so that you can practice and repeat the exercises without the pressure of having to get it right first time or waste the material provided. This is advice any newcomer would be advised to follow as (spoiler alert), art isn’t something you can pick up in a few minutes.

There’s much to like here, quite apart from the approach and presentation. The books are spiral bound inside a substantial hard cover and the attention to detail includes an elasticated band that holds the whole thing together in the manner of a portfolio. It’s very professionally done and makes the student feel both taken, and that they’re taking it all, seriously.

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Take Three Colours: Watercolour Flowers || Julie King

Flower painting being the tricky subject that it is, anything that simplifies the painting process has to be a good thing, just as long as it doesn’t over-simplify and trivialise. It’s therefore something of a relief to be able to say that Julie manages her task with considerable success.

You will, I’m sure, be amazed by the variety of tints and hues she manages to achieve with just three base colours (the same ones throughout). Yes, if you look closely, the results lack some of the subtlety that could be achieved with more, but you wouldn’t feel dissatisfied with the results, for all that. I also have a feeling that the reproduction may not be as sharp as it could be, and that what you see on paper might be better that it is on the pages of the book. I also wouldn’t have chosen that sunflower as the cover illustration as it really doesn’t convey the variety of what you can achieve. Please don’t let it put you off.

In keeping with the series style, there are plenty of generously-sized stage illustrations, short captions telling you what’s going on and sidebars that include a variety of tips and jargon busters.

With 9 projects and clear instruction, this is the ideal place to start on a rewarding subject. You might also find it useful if you’ve already had a go, but are struggling.

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Irises in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Julie King

When it comes to flower painting, there’s an advantage to concentrating, initially at least, on a single species and it reduces the choice of shapes and colours that the subject otherwise presents. However, I fear that this book may be going to fall between those who don’t want to paint irises and those who don’t want to be restricted by a single species, which is a shame.

On the whole, this is nicely done and there’s a great deal you can learn in terms of shading and detail work, as irises are complex flowers that repay a great deal of study. I do slightly worry, though, that the finished paintings look just a little flat, suggesting a lack of modelling which is one of the things you’d want to be learning.

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Flowers in Watercolour: How To Paint || Julie King

This relatively new series from Search Press is now starting to branch out from the basic media guides which any series starts with, and which often only give a hint to its eventual success. On the basis of this first subject-based volume, it’s going to be a good one.

There is no shortage of books on flower painting and you can take your pick of anything from basic sketching to scientific-level botanical illustration. Julie Ford sets her sights at the beginner level and provides, in only 64 pages, a very thorough grounding that manages to encompass not only basic shapes, but also some specific flower types (Clematis, Roses, Delphiniums and Stocks), also showing them in context and not just as isolated blooms.

If you want a good starting place for painting flowers, this is it. If you want to get more serious, there are plenty of books which will help you, but if you just want to be able to put flowers in a more general painting and have them look convincing and not out of place, this may very well be all you need.

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