Archive for category Author: Moira Clinch

The Watercolour Painter’s Pocket Palette || Moira Clinch

This is such a good idea that it’s been copied and adapted many times since this book first appeared in 1991. Even then, it wasn’t necessarily the first time this had been done, but the simplicity with which it’s presented makes this by far the best manifestation of the genre.

Quarto, the book packaging company, have always been at the forefront of illustrated instructional book design in a number of fields, and it’s a tribute to their skills that this can be reprinted untouched and remain as fresh today as it was when it first appeared 15 years ago.

Divided by colour type, what you get is a series of colour swatches made from two-part mixes with, in most cases, gradations of hue and tint. To keep things interesting, each chapter also includes an example painting with a short explanation of how various details, such as shadows, were achieved by the use of colour.

The secret of the book is its simplicity and the fact that it doesn’t attempt to be overly comprehensive (for that, you want The Watercolour Artist’s Colour Mixing Bible) or more instructional than it needs to be. Even so, you get a guide to over 800 colour mixes that you can find quickly and replicate at will. The book is only 64 pages long, will fit in a pocket and is also a spiral bound hardback that will lay flat in use, so even the format is well thought-out. The only possible drawback is that the colours are pre-printed and therefore subject to the limitations of the printing process, but that won’t detain you long as the reproduction is excellent. If you want something really faithful, then you need the Michael Wilcox books, but you need to complete those yourself and they require a considerable investment in time.

Anyway, 10 out of 10 to Search Press for keeping this available and also for resisting the temptation to put it in paperback and save a few pennies but ruin the usability.

First published 1991, reissued 2006

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Watercolour Artist's Colour Mixing Bible || Moira Clinch & David Webb

Colour mixing is an art, a skill in its own right and whole books have been written about it. In fact, this is one!

There are two basic approaches. The first is to take a series of paintings and analyse their palette, building from there toward the practical aspect of structuring colour. The best of these is Tony Paul’s How to Mix & Use Colour. The other approach is the encyclopaedia, of which there have been a number over the years. These typically contain only a few illustrations of actual paintings, usually relating to a specific subject or colour type, and mainly consist of pages of colours swatches. As far as attractiveness goes, the first type of book wins hands down, for the latter really is a bit like watching paint dry.

However, we’re serious students and we’re not going to let such triviality put us off! And a good thing too, because, in the encyclopaedia approach, more is definitely more. More base colour, more mixes and more tints and more glazes. Structure is everything, because you need to be able to find your way around a book like this quickly and easily. It’s not one you’re going to keep by the bedside to dip into last thing at night – at least, not unless you suffer from insomnia, I suppose. But I’m being unfair. The pages of this book, which you should own unless you’re one of those people who knew how to mix colour the day they were born (and there are people like that and, if you’re one of them, please don’t write and tell me this book is a waste of time!), the pages you should bookmark are nos 40-43. These give you the key to the colour sections and to the page layout.

So, there you are, easel firmly planted, palette in one hand, brush in the other and the background hills are a wonderful shade of … of … of … Right, go to greens, greens with a bit of blue, here we are, Cobalt Turquoise and mix it with Yellow Ochre, about 60-40. OK, in reality, you should be able to do something as basic as that fairly much straight off your head, but there will be occasions when a particular colour proves elusive. Now, you just know that fiddling around is going to result in grey mud, so this is where a book like this comes into its own. It’s a cheat, really, but everyone has a few of those and no-one should be ashamed of it.

The publisher claims more than 2500 mixes and glaze effects and I’m sure they’re right. It’s enough for anyone. Oh, it’s also a handy coat-pocket size and spiral bound to that it’ll lay flat when you’re using it. They think of everything.

Year published: 2006
List price: £17.99

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