Archive for category Author: Richard Taylor

Watercolour Landscapes || Richard Taylor

This is not a new book or, rather, it is not new material, having appeared as a subject-based series some twenty years ago. It is all the more remarkable then, that both the style and the presentation remain fresh. If it was all new, I’d be praising the style, layout and presentation as highly as I could. So I will – clearly it was ahead of its time.

It’s not a little impressive that, being a bind-up with, as far as I can see, little if any re-editing, this fits together seamlessly. It’s possible that the individual volumes each had materials and techniques sections – if so, these have sensibly been moved to the start and agglomerated. This part alone is so good that I could easily recommend the whole book just for this introduction to watercolour basics. Richard is not only a good painter, but an excellent presenter of his material who knows exactly what to leave out as much as what needs to be included.

This skill is characteristic of the rest of the book. What are now chapters cover hills & mountains, skies & clouds, forests & woodlands and lakes & rivers – all the main landscape elements – presented in exactly the way you’d expect from any general guide. Shapes, texture, colour and perspective are all covered, but mostly within wider demonstrations rather than separate topics. Even when there are individual lessons, such as the use of cool neutrals, the examples are little works of art in their own right – this simply never feels like dry schoolwork.

This is a thick book with no fewer than 368 pages. That would normally be a matter for comment, with things harder to see and pages difficult to handle, but it actually makes the weight manageable and using a softer binding means that the book falls open easily without being forced. Counter-intuitively, it becomes a pleasure to handle. Well done all round.

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Beginner’s Watercolour || Nicola Hodgson, Richard Taylor & Albany Wiseman

OK, I cheated there. The list of authors comes from the acknowledgements at the back of the book, which is otherwise anonymous. The publisher wants you to concentrate on the content, not who it’s by.

And that’s completely right. This is subtitled “simple projects for artists” and it’s just that. Collins & Brown was an imprint that was Hoovered up under the Anova/Pavilion umbrella and isn’t, to my knowledge, publishing new material any more. This is a scissors and paste job, as far as I’m aware – I can’t see either Richard Taylor or Albany Wiseman lending their names anonymously, though they did have books published by C&B many moons ago. I haven’t heard of Nicola Hodgson, and her name doesn’t appear in the picture credits, so I reckon she’s the editor who pulled all this together.

I hope I’m right in all this Sherlockery because she’s done one of the best jobs of its kind I’ve ever seen. The book is seamless and Richard and Albany’s styles complement each other perfectly, with no sense of jarring jumps from one to the other. The text looks all new and written to go with the demonstrations, rather than being scissored from the original books. Paste-ups are getting so good* that it’s becoming increasingly hard to see the joins, but this has the look and feel of a new book put together by someone with a clear vision and it does a superb job of being what it says it is.

I’d honestly recommend this to almost anyone. It’s an interesting idea, being neither over-simple nor too advanced. It’s not one of those cobbled-together “introduction to painting” books that I despair of because no artist, even a beginner, would ever buy them for themselves. It’s a series of projects, just as it says, clearly explained, laid out and illustrated. You’re bound to find something here that’ll interest and inform you. I’d even venture to suggest that, even if you have the original books (I still think I’m right about that), you’d find something new.

Well done all round.

* Actually, when did that happen? The technique’s been around since the dawn of time, but the sudden quality jump is recent, too recent just to be down to the advent of digital layouts. Someone’s had a lightbulb flick on somewhere and it’s sparked all the others.

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Drawing & Painting Buildings || Richard Taylor

Richard Taylor is probably the best exponent of the art of painting buildings around at the moment. The built environment is a tricky subject to handle because it’s so instantly recognisable. Get it wrong and most people, even non-painters, will be able to tell you exactly how – it’s too tall, too thin, it leans over backwards, it’s flat, the windows are in the wrong place and if you tried to walk through that door, you’d bang your head. Experts, who needs them?

Richard’s style balances neatly the needs for reasonable architectural accuracy with the artist’s desire to capture the feeling rather than the detail of a subject. If his buildings were people, we’d say they had character. They aren’t and they do.

Superficially, this book looks a bit lightweight, but that’s an illusion brought on by the fact that Richard’s drawings are quite open and light, so that no page appears to be crammed with detail. Get further in however, and you’ll find that each page is either a practical project, a series of hints and tips or a lesson in capturing a specific building type or feature and the text, although by no means lengthy is very much to the point. To be fair, this is a book much more about drawing buildings than painting them. There’s some line and wash, but that’s about it as far as brushwork goes. If you want to paint buildings, Richard’s earlier Watercolourist’s Guide to Painting Buildings is what you need. At nearly eighteen pounds, this is a tad pricy for a book with not much colour but the content is solid and you’d be unlikely to feel short-changed by it on that count.

Year published: 2005
List Price: £17.99

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