Archive for category Medium: Gouache

Abstract & Colour Techniques In Painting || Claire Harrigan

Coming after Laura Reiter’s excellent introduction to the techniques and working methods of abstract painting, this book takes the study on several further stages.

There is, or has been, a tendency to view the abstract as simply a few daubs that can mean pretty much anything the artist (and that word can become controversial in this context!) says it means. Taken to its extreme this might be true, if the dictionary definition of abstract as the essence of a subject drawn out and abstracted from it is taken to its logical conclusion. However, it is perfectly possible to keep one’s feet fairly firmly planted in reality and to maintain a recognisable representation of a subject while, at the same time, recording only those parts of it that seem most important to the painter.

Done in this way, abstraction becomes about seeing rather than being about technique. Indeed, Claire’s working methods, the way she applies paint and uses colour, are really no different to those of a more conventional style. The book even includes well written and well illustrated sections on structure and composition which have a relevance that go beyond the immediate topic.

All in all, this is a worthy addition to the growing canon of books on non-representational painting. Claire will show you how to see and visualise your subject just as much as how to capture that vision on paper or canvas. And, yes, she does also have a look at works where the original subject as all but been sublimated out of existence.

Batsford 2007

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Colour Mixing Index || Julie Collins

Everything about this book is right: the size, the coverage, the format, what it doesn’t include and even the flexible covers that allow you to flick through it easily yet are more than a paperback so that it doesn’t get dog-eared.

Do you need it? Well, only you can tell. If colour mixing comes naturally to you, if you can look at a cloud and say, “oh yes, Payne’s Grey with Alizarin Crimson and just a touch of Cadmium Yellow Deep”, then you’re unlikely to want a guide to colour mixing. If, on the other hand, that last statement brings you out in a cold sweat, then you’re one of the legions who struggle and whose existence is hinted at by the plethora of guides that are already on the market.

OK, so this is just another one? Well, yes, but someone has taken the trouble to look at the competition and come up with something different. First up, this little book (it’s jacket pocket size, but fat at 320 pages) doesn’t attempt to teach you how to paint. There’s 10 pages at the beginning on the basics of mixing colours and then it’s nothing but colour swatches, arranged by medium, base colour and tint. It’s not a book to sit down and read, it’s one to flick through (this is where the clever production design comes in), find what you want and look up the constituent parts. It’s small enough to take with you in the field, so you don’t ever need to be without it and it covers watercolour, oils, acrylic, gouache and ink – the only book of this type to include that last one, as far as I’m aware.

The only thing you might need to be aware of it before you shell out is that the colour names are from the Winsor & Newton range. This necessarily narrows its appeal if you don’t use their paints, but it does mean you get specific recommendations rather than generic names you then have to translate. You can’t have everything, I suppose. That small caveat aside, this is a book worth buying if you have the slightest trouble with colour mixing and even if you have other guides already. It feels nice in the hand which is a better quality in a book than is often credited.

David & Charles 2007

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