Archive for category Author: Terry Harrison

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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Terry’s Greatest Tips for Acrylic & Watercolour Artists || Terry Harrison

There was a sort of inevitability about this. Given the popularity of Terry Harrison and of the Top Tips series, there can’t be a publisher on earth who could resist stapling two pre-existing titles together.

It does make sense though, as acrylic and watercolour sit together better than any other two media and have a considerable degree of cross-over. If you haven’t already got the two donor books for this agglomeration, then it represents good value and gives you a lot of material to work with. The format remains the same and you still get the spiral binding that means the book will naturally lie flat in use.

Each of the two sections contains 100 tips, so there’s been a degree of editing, but you still get topics including the use of photographs, oil vs. watercolour techniques in acrylics, wet-on-wet vs. wet-on-dry, and subjects from skies and landscapes to water, boats, mountains and flowers.

I’ve always maintained that you should buy each of the volumes in this series as they come out. If you haven’t followed that advice, and you want somewhere to start, do it with this.

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Country Landscapes in Watercolour (Ready to Paint) || Terry Harrison

Gosh. I don’t know what to say about this, except that it’s only Terry’s fourth Ready to Paint – the man’s so prolific and his painting and writing style so lend themselves to the series that you’d swear there were more.

Anyway, if you like Terry’s style and you want the additional hand-holding of the pre-printed tracings and extended step-by-step demonstrations, this is the book for you. You get five absolutely classic Terry views, with fields, barns, streams and woodlands and the book is a perfect introduction to landscape painting.

I can’t say any more because, once again, Terry has absolutely got it nailed and you really won’t be disappointed.

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Painting Acrylic Landscapes the Easy Way || Terry Harrison

Quite a lot of this (about a third) is taken up with a guide to using Terry’s proprietary brushes and I assume that’s what he means by “the easy way”. For the most part, these are likely to be things you already have, such as the 19mm flat or the Fan, but there are some, such as the Wizard, with its two hair lengths and used for foliage, that you might be glad to know about. I rather think that this section stands or falls on whether or not you buy into the Terry Harrison Method. He’s a very successful teacher, so maybe you do, and you should at least give it a look.

The second section is devoted to techniques, in which we’re talking about painting reflections, creating distance, adding life and using glaze medium. It’s more pictorial than technical, which is refreshing as it means we’re not being treated to a re-hash of basic stuff we can get elsewhere and from Terry himself, indeed.

The final section comprises six demonstrations, each of which is accomplished in about 6 pages and some thirty-odd steps – reasonably detailed but not overdone. You also get a couple of bonus examples related to the subject of the main piece.

There’s nothing wildly innovative here and the book is subtitled “Brush with Acrylics 2”, so it’s perfectly reasonable to expect more of what’s gone before. Indeed, the lack of innovation for its own sake is something its audience will probably welcome. You know where you are with Terry and, if he suddenly developed a bent for new-age abstracts, a lot of people would go into a sharp decline. Terry does what he does and knows what he does and he does it very well. Keep up the good work.

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Landscapes in Watercolour (What to Paint) || Terry Harrison

This is the first title in a new series from Search Press and you’d have to say that the basic premise is a good one. As Terry explains in his introduction, it’s all too easy to find yourself with a pile of paper, a box of all the colours and every brush you might ever need and to be completely stuck for ideas. As a photographic magazine once responded to someone who listed a suitcase full of equipment and asked what else he needed to take really great pictures, “How about a couple of rolls of film?”

It’s not hard to see how this book grew out of the Ready to Paint series and, if it lives up to its manifesto, it’s certainly the next logical step. There are outlines, but they’re not tracings and we’ll come back to their limitations. What you don’t get are any step-by-step demonstrations and that’s something to celebrate. These are alright in their place, but they can get a bit pedestrian and sometimes you just think, “enough”. Instead, each painting gets just a single spread, with the finished result on the right and some details pulled out on the left, with notes about the subject and explanations of the most important elements. There’s also list of the colours used so that you can practise working with a simplified palette and developing your mixing skills.

I get the sense that the whole thing might have been Terry’s idea because it’s all so well integrated here. That can’t be a bad thing because, if the idea is going to develop and new artists are going to be brought in, it’s good to have a sound basis for it all.

I hinted earlier that there’s a drawback and it’s time to talk about those outlines. The thing is, they’re in sections and they’re printed on the normal paper of the book. This keeps down the cost and, yes, there are instructions on tracing them down using a soft pencil rubbed over the back or, better, tracedown paper, but this is laborious and I can virtually guarantee the whole thing’s going through the (closed) window after two attempts. Make that one attempt.

It’s a good idea and one that’s worth giving a try, but you’re best reckoning the outlines are a bit of an add-on. That makes £10.99 for 64 page book, which is a bit pricey, that’s all.

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Painting Watercolour Landscapes The Easy Way || Terry Harrison

I really wish they hadn’t subtitled this “Brush with watercolour 2”. That book was Terry Harrison’s first and it’s a classic of watercolour instruction, introducing Terry’s generous teaching methods to a wider audience. Given the number of books he’s written since, to suggest that this is a revisiting of old haunts, maybe a bit of a re-hash and that his style hasn’t developed over the years does him no service at all.

As to “the easy way”, a personal bugbear of mine, Terry deals with it in his introduction and it’s worth quoting what he has to say:

“If you are reading this book, you must be interested in painting in watercolour and looking for an easy way to do it. If only I had this book when I first started. The few books I had were written by very talented artists I am sure, but as a beginner, I found them extremely difficult to understand, so I have written a book that I would want to read. This is about how to use brushes, what colours and materials to buy, and how to master technique such as wet into wet, wet on dry, dry brush work, and using masking fluid without coming unstuck!”

Now, if that sounds like an introduction to the basics of watercolour, it is, but Terry has a wealth of tricks up his sleeve for getting the details right and they’re what make the book worthwhile.

As to whether this adds anything to A Brush With Watercolour, I’m honestly not sure. With any Terry Harrison book, you get a wealth of ideas, tips and instruction so, in a way, it doesn’t matter: you’ll be getting your money’s worth whatever happens. But if you asked me which one to recommend to a complete beginner, I couldn’t be sure.

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