Archive for category Author: Terry Harrison

Terry Harrison’s Complete Brush with Watercolour

This is not a new book, except that it is, and it even feels like one. How so? Well, it’s another of those bind-ups that Search Press are becoming so adept at, comprising the original (and excellent) Brush With Watercolour and subsequent Watercolour Landscapes The Easy Way.

As we’ve come to expect, you can’t see the join and the new whole is, if not greater than the sum of its parts, then at least equal in terms of the usefulness of the book. The result, in fact, is one of the most coherent watercolour courses I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s slightly shorter than the combination of the originals, demonstrating that the preliminary material has been filleted for duplication. I also suspect that some running orders have been changed so that there’s no jumping about. You can’t, like Ernie Wise’s supposed wig, see the join.

The best way to sum the book up, I think, is simply to list the main chapter headings: Choosing your equipment, Using the brushes, Techniques, Demonstrations. You see, perfectly logical. As to those brushes, yes they are all from the Terry Harrison range. I’ve observed before that you may have suitable alternatives already, or you can get them – one fan brush is, let’s face it, pretty much like another. Except that it isn’t. Terry’s brushes have a very slightly ragged edge from new, so they don’t produce a sharp line. It’s a small detail, but worth pointing out as it shows the attention he’s given them and that they’re designed to help you, rather than just make money for him. Quite a lot of artists have tried a brush range over the years, but Terry’s has stood the test of time, which is an endorsement in itself.

Sorry to bang on at length there, but I think it’s important to stress that Terry is assiduous in his efforts to help you paint, rather than simply to show you how clever he is. It’s the main reason why, as well as the brushes, he himself is as popular as ever.

There’s plenty here to like, from the simple technical explanations at the beginning, the exercises in skies, foliage, water, flowers and buildings as well as wet-in-wet, drybrush and the use of masking fluid. To conclude, the ten demonstrations cover just about every aspect of landscape painting across differing conditions and seasons. It really is that comprehensive.

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Terry Harrison’s Watercolour Secrets

If there was ever a book you’d been eagerly awaiting, this is it. Subtitled “a lifetime of painting techniques”, this absolutely lives up to expectations and won’t disappoint.

Over 170 secrets are promised, and this means that some of them are crammed 4 to a page, but you’re never sold short and, to pick one at random, you get everything you need to know about painting a winter tree in one picture and four lines of text. When more space is required in, for instance, Creating a Sunset Using Glazing, a whole spread is given over to it. Some of the tips involve Terry’s own range of brushes, but let’s give him a break on that. Quite a few artists have their own ranges, but Terry’s have been around longer than most and you don’t get that degree of longevity without repeat sales and you don’t get those if the product isn’t any good. Like everything else with Terry: take notice.

Terry is a generous teacher and doesn’t have those little tricks he keeps all to himself and somehow manages to gloss over even in the most complete demonstrations – this is one of the chief keys to his popularity. He is also one of the best explainers around and this is also the key to so much being crammed into these 128 pages. He doesn’t just understand what he’s doing, he also understands the exact bits you’ll have trouble understanding and how to make them clear.

All this would be a mess, of course, without careful organisation and the book is nicely grouped by subject so that you can use the contents list to find what you need quickly. I’d also bet that you want to read the whole thing, though. It invites immersion.

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Painting Watercolour Sea & Sky The Easy Way || Terry Harrison

Terry Harrison isn’t the only person to have used “the easy way” in a book title, but he pretty much owns the phrase at the moment. Very sensibly, he makes no attempt to define it. You know that a Terry demonstration is going to be clear, succinct and easy to follow, and that’s probably enough.

This new book is a comprehensive guide to just about every maritime subject there is, as long as it’s on the coast – we’re not in open water here. You get calm seas, rough seas, breaking and crashing waves as well as help on what to do with the horizon. At this point, moving upwards, we get to the sky – clear, cloudy, stormy and with the sun setting. As well as shorelines, cliffs and buildings, the odd boat finds its way in uncredited too, and Terry is particularly sound on the way boats sit in and not on the water. After these two-page exercises, the book concludes with a series of projects, fully demonstrated, that bring everything together.

There’s no easy way to paint, you know that, but there is an enjoyable and fulfilling way to learn that makes it seem easy. How do you find that? Follow Terry Harrison. You won’t go wrong.

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Painting Boats & Harbours in Watercolour || Terry Harrison

This straightforward guide is full of Terry’s trademark no-nonsense instruction that’s made him the popular teacher and demonstrator that he is. It also sticks nicely to its brief and contains almost nothing except the subject matter of the title – extraneous details that only serve to complicate the scene and how to paint it are ignored. Even the section on “boatyard clutter” is arranged so that, while the boatyard may be cluttered, the painting isn’t. As a result, apart from a course in maritime subjects, you also get a bit of a masterclass in simplification.

After an introduction to materials, using colour and working from photographs, you’re straight into a simple exercise in getting boat shapes right. This is important as craft sit on the water and mistakes here can make them look all-to-ready to capsize. From there, it’s a simple scene with a small cutter resting in calm waters. This is followed by some reflections and then a few ripples. It all builds up progressively and it’s not long before you’re ready to start tackling rigging.

The bulk of the book is a series of demonstrations – some of simple subjects like jetties and some more complex, but always building on the skills you have and adding more as you go along. Boats and water don’t need to be difficult, as Terry shows, and he blows away a great deal of the mystique that surrounds the subject and he makes it readily accessible in the process.

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30 Minute Artist Series

Painting Water in Watercolour || Terry Harrison
Painting Flowers in Watercolour || Fiona Peart

This is a new series that Terry Harrison (whose idea it was) is justifiably proud of. There’s nothing new in the limited-time idea and I have in the past criticised some of its implementations for pandering to the “time-restricted artist”. I’m sorry, but art is something you devote time to. The whole point of it, of any recreation, is that it gives you a chance to relax and recharge. If you’re that busy-busy-busy, you probably have a time-management issue that bish-bosh painting won’t solve.

But enough of that, because that’s not the matter in hand. The proper use of the half-hour painting is to discourage fiddling and promote the skill of getting things down quickly, as you see them. It’s about spontaneity and freshness, and therefore to be applauded.

The structure here is really rather neat. The first half of the book is taken up with a series of exercises, Quick Techniques as they’re described here. These are all about ways of seeing and thinking, but also about methods of working – rocks and waves or foliage and petals in a few quick brushstrokes. The idea is to suggest your subject rather than capture it in every minor detail.

Following that is a series of projects that bring everything together. There’s always a slight contradiction when you have printed demonstrations in a book that’s supposed to be about spontaneity, but you have to describe the process somehow and these short (4 page) sections are very effective at showing you how to work within the time allowed. I suspect the best way of making this work is to read the chapter through and then work with it as just notes. If you don’t head straight for home, but keep looking at the map, the oven-timer is going to ring while you’re still getting the tops off the tubes!

There’s a nice busy feel to both these books that somehow encourages the whole idea they’re trying to promote and, price-wise, they’re a steal.

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Painting Watercolour Trees The Easy Way || Terry Harrison

Even with all the dire predictions of bugs and disease, the totally bare landscape is unlikely to be with us any time soon. Trees, by their size and presence, are one of the defining features of any scene and getting them wrong can mar a painting as surely as badly painted features can turn a portrait into a caricature.

Terry is a slick presenter and he starts the book with ways of creating simple shapes that look immediately convincing. His own range of brushes comes into it, of course, but in an understated way, and you have to admit that they’re rather useful. And anyway, you may already have the basic shapes in your kit, so there’s no hard sell here.

The obvious next stage is trees through the seasons and Terry provides quick demonstrations that show a variety of compositions, such as an ivy-clad trunk beside a winter lane, that give you a chance to get your bearings. Moving on (the title of the next chapter), you get specific varieties. Even here, the emphasis isn’t on the details but rather the shapes and colours and how to present them as adjuncts to the main composition. This section is something of a tour de force as Terry underplays his hand masterfully, using the subject of the book as a foil to the main work.

After all this, you might be surprised to find the final section of the book being called Trees in The Landscape. Although that seems to be what we’ve seen already, here Terry paints some really quite ambitious scenes where the trees really are the main feature, yet are still not portraits. He works in a variety of conditions and demonstrates clear light, dappled shade and misty recession throughout the year.

There’s a lot here and it’s genuinely surprising just how much Terry manages to wring out of his subject without any sense that he’s stretching either it or himself to fill the 128 pages.

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Watercolour Landscapes (Trace & Paint) || Terry Harrison & Geoff Kersey

This is another compilation from the successful and valuable Ready to Paint series and is excellent value, with 15 step-by-step projects from four different books. There’s a good variety of material here, from fields and barns to buildings and seascapes, both in the UK and abroad. I have to remark that some of the subjects seem a little tenuous as landscapes – a bicycle parked against a bougainvillea-covered wall is not, in my humble opinion, a landscape – but I also feel rather picky doing it as there’s a wealth of good and varied material here.

The downside to the format is that there are 18 outlines which are fixed into the centre of the book. Tear them out and you land up with a front and a back half with no middle. I think I’d probably cut the remainder in half, but then each of them has a cover missing. There’s no way round it, but it does mean you’re going to have to make mincemeat of the book if you want to use it. Also, the outlines are printed on thin book paper rather than tracing paper, which means that you have to resort to a bit of ingenuity to get the images onto your own surface. Again, it’s not insurmountable, and it helps to keep the price down, but it’s an issue. The publisher does seem to have used thinner paper than some previous forays into the format, though, which helps.

On balance, these smallish niggles don’t outweigh the value of the book, though.

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