Archive for category Author: Terry Harrison

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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Terry’s Top Tips for Acrylic Artists || Terry Harrison

Terry Harrison is among the best there is at explaining the technical process of painting and he’s also a very generous teacher, unafraid to share his many personal secrets.

This series from Search Press is developing nicely and they’ve done well to be selective about who they get to contribute to it, because it’s an easy format to do, but a hard one to get right. You get a good range of topics here, including painting from photographs, the use of additives, skies, foregrounds, trees, mountains, water and coastal scenes. There are plenty of illustrations with the text confined to simple captions that give you just the essential information so that you know what you’re looking at.

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Ireland: Ready to Paint || Terry Harrison

With its rich colour and widely varied landscape, Ireland is bordering on artistic overload. At first glance, the idea of reducing a whole country down to five paintings (you get the usual pre-printed tracings that come with this series) sounds like a definition of the absurd, but Terry has picked subjects that capture the essence of what Ireland has to offer: a mountain, a castle, a seascape, cliffs and a townscape detail.

What you finish up with is as much a good primer in many of the subjects you might want to tackle in any situation as it is a practice run at a location where you might well be wondering where to start. Just remember to stock up on that Emerald Green, to be sure.

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Watercolour Barns: Ready to Paint || Terry Harrison

This is very much the cousin of Terry’s recent Rustic Buildings & Barns, but offers the pre-drawn tracings that come as part of this series so that the basic structure of the painting is done for you and you’re free to concentrate on the work of getting the brushstrokes and the colours right. As a primer in painting buildings, it’s ideal.

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Rustic Buildings & Barns in Watercolour || Terry Harrison

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Terry Harrison is not the greatest painter in the world. What he is, however, is an excellent and generous teacher who has a great gift for explaining what he does in terms that the aspiring painter can understand and learn from. He is also amazingly versatile and there a few subjects that he doesn’t turn his hand to with pretty much complete success.

Buildings are a popular subject, partly because they appear in almost every landscape, but also because of their huge variety and the opportunities they present for colour and texture. A well executed building can make a painting. There’s a nice pace to this book, with detailed step-by-step demonstrations interspersed with complete paintings that are there to emphasise the point being made in that particular context. There are also buildings of every type and a lot of information on how to capture brick, stone and woodwork as well as the many texture these throw up. From what sounds like quite a limited subject, Terry has conjured up one of his best and most varied books. Maybe that’s what he is: a magician and he paints pictures that, in truth, just make you feel good about the world.

There’s one more thing. Tucked away on pages 90 and 91 is a gem so valuable it’s worth the price of the book on its own. It’s called Adding Life and it’s two pages of animals and people that will show you better than anything else I’ve seen how to populate your paintings. It’s brilliant in its simplicity.

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Terry Harrison’s Complete Guide Watercolour Landscapes || Terry Harrison

This not insubstantial book started life as four smaller volumes on Trees, Flowers, Mountains Valleys & Streams and Sea & Sky. It was pretty obvious from the outset that a bind-up was the obvious way to go from there and here it is.

Terry is very good at explaining what he does and even if some of the finished results may not win prizes at an exhibition, you can always see what’s going on and what the author has done. The flowers section is particularly good at showing flowers in a landscape rather than as an individual subject in themselves and fulfils a long-felt need that other flower books simply don’t cover.

If you’ve already got the individual books, then you won’t need this but, if you only have two, then this one is cheaper than completing your collection. I suspect that if you’ve already discovered Terry Harrison, you’ve been buying his books as they come out. If not, this is a very good place to start. Although he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, Terry is an excellent guide for the beginner because he explains things fully and concisely and, more importantly, he won’t lead you into bad habits you’ll have to unlearn later.


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