Archive for category Author: Wendy Jelbert
A reissue of an earlier compilation. You can read the original review here. There doesn’t appear to be any re-origination and the image quality isn’t really up to modern standards, however.
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This isn’t the first book about sketching but it is, as far as I’m aware, at least one of the first to cover the whole process right through. Yes, other books habitually include a chapter on working your sketchbook up into something grander, but this takes the logical step of following each subject from observation right through to the finished painting. And, of course, it’s Wendy Jelbert, whose expertise in this field is second to none.
The structure of the book is familiar enough, with lessons, exercises, demonstrations and tips. This is good, as it means you’re on solid ground right from the start. What you get initially are some basic lessons in seeing and observation – getting the essence of your subject. There are also useful hints on what to draw and what to annotate so that you have structure, shapes and colours at your fingertips when you get back home. There are also plenty of demonstrations that cover buildings, people, flowers and so on – typical Wendy subjects, in fact.
It’s always going to feel a little odd working from someone else’s sketches – they are, after all, intensely personal – but the way this is put together never feels intrusive. In fact, it’s more like a sketching trip with an old friend, and all the better for that.
Since writing this, I’ve realised that this is in fact a re-working of a book that first appeared in 2003. (I should have – the back cover makes it clear!) As ever, Search Press’s work is so good that it’s by no means obvious and it felt new from the start. I don’t think you can give that aspect of it higher praise.
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Watercolour Landscapes step-by-step || Geoff Kersey, Wendy Jelbert, Arnold Lowrey, Barry Herinman, Ray Campbell Smith and Joe Francis Dowden
This is another of Search Press’s bind-ups of previous material and I’m still not sure whether I’ve reviewed it before or not – or maybe in a slightly different guise. They’ve got very good at this latterly and, rather than obvious joins where one book ends and another begins, the whole thing is now seamless.
The material may not be new, but it’s still sound and the reproduction is as fresh as it ever was, so this isn’t resurrecting a corpse but bringing excellent material to a potential new audience at a very affordable price.
As well as some technical pieces on things like perspective and composition, demonstrations from popular authors cover trees, water, snow, buildings and so on (and on). If you have other books by these authors, you’d need to check for duplication but, equally, there’s so much here, you probably won’t be getting too much cross-over.
If you only have a small library and are on a budget into the bargain, you could do a great deal worse than invest in this.
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This is a bind-up of material that has previously appeared in four of the Ready to Paint series. Apart from the portmanteau price, which is pretty good value, the different here is that, instead of tracings, you get outlines pre-printed on plain paper that are really quite difficult to transfer. If it’s this aspect that you really want, then I’d recommend giving this a miss and shelling out for the original books. However, if you think you can dispense with the outlines, then the executions are very nicely done and you can certainly learn a lot about flower painting – I’ve recommended at least two of these before.
Handbook of Watercolour Tips and Techniques || Arnold Lowrey, Wendy Jelbert, Geoff Kersey, Barry Herniman
I don’t normally review bind-ups as I’ve usually covered the individual volumes previously. Sometimes, though, there’s a particular reason: the single books are no longer available, the anthology is particularly good value or maybe there’s some kind of health warning.
This one falls into the latter category. Be aware that this particular collection has appeared previously, but in a larger format. If you’ve already got a similar sounding book by the same four authors, don’t assume that this is more in the same vein, it’s the same thing.
I have to confess that the reason for issuing it in a half-size format eludes me and there doesn’t seem to have been any change of layout either, they’ve just shrunk the pages so that, unless you have 20:20 vision or some very strong reading glasses, you’re going to struggle with it. It’s also quite heavy and you need to break the spine in order to see the whole of each page properly. Even then, it’s a bit of a wrestle to get it to lie flat.
If you want Arnold Lowrey on starting to paint, Wendy Jelbert on working from sketch to painting, Geoff Kersey on perspective, depth and distance and Barry Herniman on mood and atmosphere, go for the full-size compilation, which appears to be still available. It’s a bit more, but it’s worth it.
I’ve waxed enthusiastic elsewhere about this series and I’m not about to change that. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is probably the best one so far. Wendy’s main strength is the small detail and the intimate corner and this is well suited to a book of, well, small ideas.
In this book, she deals with acrylic both in impasto, imitating oils and thinned out as a wash, imitating watercolour or gouache. Because of this split personality that the medium has, what she says is also relevant to what we might call the parent mediums. In other words, if you paint in any brush-based medium, you’re going to find plenty that’s useful here. You’ll also probably find that this is less of a guide to painting like the author and more one that just tells you how to deal with things like trees, water, boats, skies, texture – well, you name it, it’s probably here. Wendy’s approach is almost entirely subject-based, but she does also find space for things like scumbling, drybrush and texture and there’s the usual index to help you find your way around.
Definitely one to recommend.
This is one of those bind-ups of smaller titles that Search Press does from time to time and does rather well. It’s not at all obvious that this is a collection of books which have previously appeared in the Leisure Arts series and material which would normally repeat from one to the other has been removed so that, for example, you only get one introduction to materials, not several authors saying virtually the same thing. I’d tell you how many different books you get for your money if I could but, frankly, I can’t spot the joins. At £12.99, they’re excellent value for money as long as you don’t already have a comprehensive collection of the originals.
The Tips & Techniques series provides an excellent variety of extensively illustrated demonstrations frequently focussing on quite a narrow subject area. The advantage of this is that you can pick exactly what you want without having to wade through the author’s obsession with something in which you have no interest, at the same time giving yourself a deep immersion in a single topic.
There’s a good variety of subject matter here and Wendy offers tips covering all the main landscape elements as well as techniques for recession, colour and perspective. Overall, it’s excellent value for money and something you should find yourself coming back to again and again for both advice and inspiration.
After a bit of a wobble over Venice, Wendy is back to form and well within what I think we all regard as her comfort zone.
The book follows the by now well-established Ready to Paint format, with a series of six pre-drawn tracings that combine with detailed demonstrations of how to paint them. As with previous volumes, however, the result is very much more than a beginner’s painting-by-numbers exercise and turns itself into one of the best introductions there is to painting flowers in the increasingly popular medium of acrylics.
OK, now I’m beginning to get scared. This series has turned out much better than I’d expected and has gone down very well with painters in general. Much of its appeal lies in the excellent execution – done badly it would have been barely more than a glorified painting-by-numbers game, but the idea of being freed from the tyranny of the initial drawing has worked and that’s good. But tracings of a real place? Isn’t that cheating?
Well, maybe, but Venice is the Mecca for the artist and not everyone can get there, so the idea of an armchair guide does make sense. How you explain the resulting artwork on your wall is up to you; Wendy’s keeping schtum on that one.
The five demonstrations will give you a good selection of the classic Venice scenes, including the Rialto bridge, the Grand Canal and the inevitable gondola. If you want to paint Venice and your travelling is all done firmly from your armchair, look no further, the world is coming to you. If I have a quibble, it’s that the finished results look, frankly, a bit amateurish and not totally up to Wendy’s usual standard, which is a shame, because there’s a market for the definitive Venice book and I’m just not sure this is it. Pity.
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