Archive for category Author: Tim Fisher
Oil pastels have a hard time of it in the art world. Often regarded as mere child’s toys, they were invented in Japan some 100 years ago (Tim includes a fascinating history) as a means of combining wax crayons with the better quality pigments demanded by the serious artist.
As a medium, they have much to recommend them, being easy to carry and requiring little in the way of ancillary equipment. They don’t drop colour, have no drying time and the images they create are thoroughly robust. If nothing else, therefore, they’re worthy of consideration as a lightweight sketching medium. However, as Tim amply and ably demonstrates here, they’re capable of considerable subtlety and the results he produces could easily be taken for soft pastel or even watercolour.
This is, as the title suggests, aimed at the beginner and includes a very straightforward introduction and a series of detailed demonstrations that make the medium’s capabilities clear. For the more experienced artist, this might be a little more than is required, but it may still prove helpful if you are trying something that is unfamiliar.
If I were to tell you that this is easily the best book on oil pastels I’ve seen, you’d rightly point out that it’s probably the only one. This isn’t quite true – I’m pretty sure I remember another – but Tim hasn’t taken the easy route and has put a lot of trouble into producing a book it will be hard to better.
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I’ve lost count of how many books on perspective I’ve seen in a long career. It’s a simple enough idea – you have a viewpoint, a subject and a vanishing point – but notoriously difficult to explain. All these books have made valiant and worthy attempts to keep things simple and some, using blocks and cones or different colours for the lines, have come close to success. The problem, though, is that almost everything you overlay only serves to complicate the image. What could be expressed in probably no more than a dozen or so words suddenly becomes so unmanageable that the poor reader just gives up and decides they’ll never get it right. This is a shame, as your eyes will tell you instantly when it is.
So it’s with great delight that I give an enormous Hurrah to this new contribution to the literature. Tim Fisher doesn’t forego diagrams, shapes or lines. What he does do, though, and it’s so simple it’s a forehead-slapper, is not to try to do everything at once. There are drawings here that have only four or five lines in them, and you can see what’s going on as a result. Yes, some parts don’t have their vanishing points delineated (get over it), but they’re not the bit he’s explaining. He also manages to keep the whole thing simple without over-simplifying and therefore missing the point entirely. Although this is billed as a Masterclass, the truth is that it’s by far the best primer I’ve ever seen. If you have other books, throw them away and buy this. You won’t regret it.
Oh, and Search press seem to have solved the problems of muddy half-tones that have bedevilled previous volumes in the series. Double Hurrah.
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This series of introductory booklets has been throwing up some surprises of late and is in a little danger of suffering an identity crisis. The implication of the head title is that it’s aimed at the beginner, but recent additions have tended to be a little more advanced, while at the same time keeping the spirit of the simple approach. I don’t think that’s a bad thing necessarily, but there might be some confusion over who the target audience is and it could be in danger of being overlooked by the casual browser.
Tim Fisher paints in the oil style of the medium, frequently in quite a heavy impasto, a fact that’s worth knowing if that’s not your thing. The meat of the book is a series of three demonstrations, of increasing complexity, that showcase nicely what you can achieve, but this is only half of it. The rest comprises an introduction to materials that the more experienced will want to skip and some quite useful notes on tone, colour and colour mixing. There’s also a solid section on getting started which includes notes on sketching and composition.
All this is quite basic and, although the demonstrations are simply explained and comprehensively illustrated you can’t help feeling they’re quite a long way beyond the scope of anyone reading the book’s first half. It’s not that everything here isn’t massively useful, I’m just not sure that it’s useful to the same set of people. On the other hand, if you want to learn to paint flowers in acrylics (and a subject-based book in the medium is to be welcomed), this is for you.
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