Archive for category Author: Mark Daniel Nelson

Learn to Paint Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings || Mark Daniel Nelson

I am now completely confused. When I saw this, I didn’t like it. It doesn’t compare well with its companion volume on watercolour and seems to lack the fizz that has. However, I now realise that it is, in fact, a reissue of Little Ways to Learn Acrylics, which I liked a lot.

The moral of this, I think, is always to check that books aren’t quiet reissues (this one isn’t completely silent and is acknowledged in small print on the title page). What is interesting, though, is how perception can change when comparison is made to something else. In this case, Learn to Paint in Watercolour with 50 Small Paintings has a huge amount of originality and this now looks like a pale comparison and a feeble attempt to jump on a series bandwagon. And yet it’s the same book that I liked two years ago.

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Little Ways to Learn Acrylics || Mark Daniel Nelson

The subtitle to this rather charming book says it all: “50 small painting projects to get you started.” Each one occupies no more than one double-page spread and includes just enough stages and explanation to take you through the process. They’re all quite quick and major on simple form rather than extensive detail. The idea is that you pick up all the basic techniques by working with them. I once had a German textbook that tried to do that. The idea there was that you learnt the grammar from hearing it used. It didn’t work. German has extremely complex grammar that you simply can’t avoid. It’s a bit like trying to do Calculus without basic arithmetic, or play the piano without scales. Doesn’t work.

You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Can you learn painting just by … well … painting? Aren’t there basic techniques you need to be at least aware of, like colour, composition, brushwork and so on? Well, they’re here, in a very short section that doesn’t cover all of them – but does include Displaying Your Work, which I’d have thought would come at the end, not the beginning.

There’s no doubt that this is well-intentioned and, if you have some basic skills already, what this will do is get you producing some finished work quickly, rather than labouring away for hours, overworking and maybe never reaching the end. In that way, it’s wholly admirable and I still like it for what it is. Just don’t forget your Duden*, though.

* The standard German grammar book.

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