Archive for category Author: Sandrine Maugy

Botanical Watercolours Through The Seasons || Sandrine Maugy

When it comes to the arrangement of flower painting books, you pays your money and you takes your choice. Do you want them alphabetical for reference, by colour for handy palette selection, or seasonal for easy access to what’s around at any particular time? We shouldn’t be unkind, because the publisher has to do something and all these are perfectly valid and what really matters is the quality of the instruction.

The sales blurb for this begins: “This stunning book follows the rhythm of nature through the year”, and I wouldn’t disagree with any of that. It is stunning and there’s also a sense of originality and wonder in what is, let’s face it, a crowded field.

Open any art instruction book at random and it’s usually fairly easy to pick out the structure: general introduction, materials, techniques, basic exercises, demonstrations. It’s a convention because it works and you break away from it at your peril. Sandrine and the production team at Search Press have taken quite a risk here, because this doesn’t have an obviously linear structure. Rather, the technical pieces, such as Drawing a Rose, or discussions of colour (Drawing and A Viridian Palette) appear within the body of the work. This could very easily break up the flow but, sensitively handled, puts what sometimes amount to thought pieces right next to the subject they relate to. It also makes the book subtly immersive and I think it’s one you’d probably want to read right through before breaking out the paintbox and then going to the section covering the season you’re in right now.

Style-wise, Sandrine works with individual subjects – these include fruit and leaves as well as flowers – rather than larger arrangements and she paints them with quite a lot of, but not obsessive, detail. She’s not afraid of a wash when the result demands it. This makes the book eminently accessible and the overall sense is of immersing yourself in the subject and a feeling of being enveloped, informed and entertained. And that’s quite an achievement.

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Colours of Nature || Sandrine Maugy

This is not a new book, having first appeared in 2013, but its reissue is timely and it’s something that really shouldn’t be out of print.

There are all kinds of guides to colour, from the mixing swatch-books to highly technical volumes that are really of more interest to the scientist than the artist. This one is firmly practical and written for those working with pigment to create end results, which are the main, indeed only, focus.

What colours do, especially in relation to each other, is of prime importance and a basic understanding of their properties is essential if predictable and reliable results are to be achieved. This doesn’t necessarily mean a crash course in chemistry, although that’s behind a lot of what happens on the palette and the paper. An author who can understand that and translate it into the language and requirements of the artist is someone to be treasured.

Sandrine works through each of a wide range of colours individually as well as explaining some basic techniques for botanical painting. She also names specific brands, but recommends alternatives as well. You don’t have to throw away the contents of your paintbox in order to work with her prescribed choices, which is very welcome – this is about you, not her.

Each colour choice is accompanied by a detailed floral demonstration that pays particular attention to the colours used – how and why – for each part of the subject. It’s particularly useful to be able to see and understand why a particular mix is appropriate at any particular stage and where they all fit into the overall result.

This is a very thorough guide to a complex subject, but one which is told clearly and concisely and, above all, in language the artist will readily understand.

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