Archive for category Author: Wendy Jelbert
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.
This series just gets better and better and is branching out into areas that others don’t touch.
Having given us what is one of the best guides to painting trees there is, we now have this on those little details that can make a building, even one that’s really only in the background, believable. The thing about a window is that it’s not just a square hole in a wall. It has depth, which gives it shadows and the glass reflects in quite specific ways, which often turn out to be quite a complicated graduation of hues of Payne’s Gray. Doors are the same, except that, even closed, they have to give a hint that they lead somewhere. If you don’t give your openings character, your building will look flat, deserted and dead.
On top of that, doors and windows have all kinds of furniture – shutters, hinges, porches – often with flowers growing round them – and frames of brick and stone work. There’s a lot to get right and Wendy is well known for doing just that.
The Ready to Paint series is based on a set of very detailed step-by-step projects for each of which there is a pre-printed tracing that frees you from the need to get the drawing right before you can start and allows you to concentrate on the use of colours. It’s not a substitute for good draughtsmanship of course, but it does mean you don’t have to be learning two things at once. If you’re beyond the stage of what amounts to advanced painting by numbers, don’t dismiss this little book, though, because it contains a wealth of information that goes quite a long way beyond what it initially sets out to do.
This substantial tome packs an enormous amount of information into its 376 pages and covers basic techniques, sketching, perspective and mood & atmosphere. As such, it’s a sound course which will admirably suit those who are at an early stage in learning to paint and provides pretty much all the information they will need in order to progress. It also takes a lot of the head-scratching out of deciding which books to buy and an investment of twenty quid here is not only a solid one, but should also save money in the long run.
If you’re already a committed book buyer, though, have a careful look at the contents because this is not new material, but rather a bind-up of 4 titles which have already appeared in the similarly-named Search Press series. If you’ve already got some of these, be careful you aren’t duplicating. At twenty pounds for four books that, separately, would cost you ten pounds each, though, you can’t fault it for value.
Quite a lot of though has gone into the selection of material and the ordering of it, beginning with Arnold Lowrey’s excellent beginner’s guide (Starting to Paint) that covers all of the basics and goes on to look at techniques for capturing a variety of subjects including landscapes, seascapes, buildings and figures. Wendy Jelbert then covers the use of a sketchbook to make notes for later studio work, Geoff Kersey looks at the tricky subject of perspective and makes it easy to understand. Finally, Barry Herniman handles mood and atmosphere and shows you how to interpret your subject and use colour and brushwork to portray it in two dimensions.
If you want an introduction to painting, either for yourself or as a gift, you won’t go far wrong with this.
Search Press 2007
A larger-format reissue of a title that first appeared in 1994, it’s good to see that this little classic remains available.
Although, at the time, there had been demand for a guide to the then relatively new watercolour pencils, the truth was that this was never really going to need much more than a magazine article or a chapter in a larger book. However, by combining pencils with a look at water-soluble pastels, Wendy did manage to get a small (48 page) book out of it and to cover pretty well all of the information that’s needed for a general introduction to the medium.
Known for her mixed media work, Wendy was the ideal person to write this book and she also shows how water-soluble media can be combined with other techniques rather than being used solely on their own. Short step-by-step demonstrations cover subjects including flowers, landscapes, trees and people and the limited space means that nothing is ever over-stretched, but is rather kept well onto the point. As an easily-followed introduction to water-soluble media, it’s hard to fault and stands the test of time well.
Year published: 2006 (originally published 1994)
List price: £7.99
Another in a series of larger-format reprints of earlier books from Search Press, this is very much classic Wendy Jelbert. Best-known and justly popular for her mixed-media work, Wendy shows here how the medium can be applied to just about any subject.
Once again, there are only 48 pages, so there’s no time for messing about. Basically, pen and wash is a very good way of giving bite to a sketch and Wendy will show you how to portray landscapes, flowers, trees and buildings by using watercolour washes combined with subtle pen strokes that harden up the outlines.
A surprisingly thorough introduction to inks, pens and a variety of other drawing media including felt-tips and ball-points leads to a look at methods of using them and a series of simple sketches which demonstrate in a very practical way the various marks and mark-making techniques you need to be familiar with. From here, some simple studies then progress to more ambitious compositions as your skills develop.
Once again, this is very much a book for the beginner who is looking for an introduction to a specific technique, but one which should also answers most of the questions that beginner will have.
Year published: 2006 (originally published 1997)
List Price: £7.99
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