Archive for category Author: Michael Sanders

Oil Painting Step by Step || Noel Gregory, James Horton, Roy Lang & Michael Sanders

I’m pretty sure that this is a bind-up of eight short guides that have been previously published – I certainly recognise Roy Lang’s Sea & Sky in Oils, but publishers are getting a lot better at the stitching-together trick these days and it’s really quite hard to see the joins here. At a mere £12.99, though, it’s hardly worth quibbling in the face of the huge variety of material you get.

Because everything runs together so neatly, it’s best to look as this as a compendium of single-subject demonstrations, albeit a themed one. Turning the pages more or less at random reveals all sorts of useful information on subjects such as on skies, light, reflections, choosing a subject, underpainting and glazing, as well as a good selection of demonstration paintings on subjects including flowers, landscapes and water.

The individual volumes were definitely something to work through, but I rather favour serendipity here. Just let the book fall open and read from there; it’s full of wisdom and good advice.

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Cezanne (Ready to Paint) || Michael Sanders

If you want to recreate the work of Paul Cezanne in acrylics, this is the book for you. The Ready to Paint series works well when it’s subject-based, but I have to admit that I fail to see its appeal when applied to the Old Masters. It could be argued that it’s the modern application of the Atelier method, and I’d agree that you can learn a certain amount by copying. However, I’m not sure that having pre-drawn tracings really helps on that score. If I’m missing the point and this is the approach for you, then it works and you won’t need any prompting to explore it further.

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Van Gogh in Acrylics (Ready to Paint) || Michael Sanders

This is the second in the Ready to Paint The Masters series that offers you the chance to emulate the greats in a medium that wasn’t available to them. I have to admit that I’m stumped as to why you would want to and there’s no help in the introduction here. Michael is right when he says that copying other work is/was the traditional way to learn and it’s certainly a handy way of measuring your progress, but I’m not sure how much satisfaction it will give you unless you’re a fan of rote learning and prepared for quite a lot of hard slog before you get to express your own creativity.

However, if your boat needs floating and you think a few Van Goghs will get it off the slipway, this is the book for you.

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Quick & Clever Drawing || Michael Sanders

I think you have to admit that the Quick & Clever series title is a bit of a hostage to fortune – I mean, sooner or later surely they’re going to come up with something that’s neither, and then what’ll we do for eggs, hmm?

I also think we have to admit that some of the results here are sometimes a little bit flat, a little bit two-dimensional. However, that’s more than made up for by the fact that Michael offers not only a rather good grounding in basic techniques (and other books wholly devoted to that subject have frequently missed the point entirely), but also some, well, it has to be said, clever ideas for working quickly, most of which work very well. You’d have to be pretty picky to cavil, but then that’s my job: I do it so you don’t have to. Poor me.

The thing about drawing is that it’s a very basic skill and one which it’s very hard to learn from scratch. Sure, if you have a modicum of ability you can practice and you can also learn a huge variety of techniques, but if you haven’t got the sort of eye that can translate a three dimensional subject into just height and width and only use tone and shading to suggest depth, you’re in trouble. What you get here are some neat, well-executed and well-presented ideas that will give you quite reasonable results very quickly, boosting your confidence and persuading you that maybe you can do it. After all, there’s nothing more calculated to discourage the beginner that to spend hours fiddling about with a drawing, watching it get away from them before their very eyes and then finishing up like, well, like something even the dog wouldn’t recognise as dinner.

This is one of those books where you can feel that author, editor and designer have worked together as a team, so congratulations to all of them on a job well done.


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