Archive for category Author: Margaret Evans
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 always a bit wary of saying that something may be the best ever, because almost immediately something else comes along and I have to find a way of saying it’s even better. I’m probably on safer ground with this, though, as pastels are definitely the Cinderella medium, with relatively few books written about them. The strange thing is, though, that there are almost no truly bad ones. It may be that the medium only really attracts the committed artist who’s spent time developing their craft, or maybe publishers are more selective. Whatever it is, most pastels books are good and this is quite possibly the best ever.
Let’s start by saying what it’s not: it’s not a beginner’s guide. Yes, there are step-by step -demonstrations, yes there are chapters on materials and techniques, but they all assume a degree of prior knowledge. This isn’t a way of warning you off if you want to learn the medium, though there are enough basic guides available that you should maybe start with. Rather, it’s a whoop of delight to find a book that treats you as a grown-up, that says, “Add highlights to the centre of the right hand poppy. Tidy up the edges of the main flowers and freshen the colours” and assumes you don’t need any more detail than that.
This is a book that sells itself. All you need to do is pick it up and flick through the pages and there’s no chance you won’t buy it. There’s just so much variety, from people and animals to landscapes and seascapes, fine-detail and broad-stroke work. Techniques include the relatively new idea of adding water and spirit to free the pure colour the medium contains. I usually manage to come up with a list of things a book is packed with, but this is packed with everything. It’s a celebration of the medium that’s going to delight and enthuse any pastellist.
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This is another re-working of the old Leisure Arts series from Search Press and proves that it was an excellent series that deserves a new outing.
For a mere £12.99, you get four books in one: Peter Coombs’ introduction, Paul Hardy on Landscapes and on Light and Margaret Evans on Flowers.
My only quibble, in the form of a warning, is that the Peter Coombs book is also available on its own in the Art Handbooks series, which is appearing at the same time as this bind-up. I have no objection to publishers re-issuing or re-working old material, in fact I think it’s a valuable way of keeping good books fresh, but to put the same thing out in different formats at the same time is just a little bit naughty, imho.
This series is shaping up to be an excellent way of looking at a variety of media (and it’s to be hoped that it will move on to subject-based titles in the fullness of time) from a fresh viewpoint.
The idea of the timed painting is not a new one and, handled without thought, it can be little more than a gimmick. However, what it does do is make you concentrate on the subject rather than the mechanics of recording it; you can’t fuss over details or the oven timer rings and you’ve got to stop. If this was just an excuse to produce yet another series of basic media introductions, I’d greet it with a hearty yawn. There’s an awful of that kind of thing out there and, trust me, a lot of them really are awful. However, as well as encouraging the reader to look at things in a new light, the same process seems to have transferred itself to the authors (and Collins have been rather smart in their choice of artists for the series) and what you get is a catalogue of neat, quick and fresh ideas that should appeal as much to the more experienced artist as to the beginner. This is a neat trick, because this kind of thing is usually aimed at those starting out.
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