Archive for category Medium: Sketching

30 Minute Sketching || Alwyn Crawshaw

This series is shaping up to be an excellent way of looking at a variety of media (and it’s to be hoped that it will move on to subject-based titles in the fullness of time) from a fresh viewpoint.

The idea of the timed painting is not a new one and, handled without thought, it can be little more than a gimmick. However, what it does do is make you concentrate on the subject rather than the mechanics of recording it; you can’t fuss over details or the oven timer rings and you’ve got to stop. If this was just an excuse to produce yet another series of basic media introductions, I’d greet it with a hearty yawn. There’s an awful of that kind of thing out there and, trust me, a lot of them really are awful. However, as well as encouraging the reader to look at things in a new light, the same process seems to have transferred itself to the authors (and Collins have been rather smart in their choice of artists for the series) and what you get is a catalogue of neat, quick and fresh ideas that should appeal as much to the more experienced artist as to the beginner. This is a neat trick, because this kind of thing is usually aimed at those starting out.

Collins 2008

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You Can Paint Series

This series of basic introductions to a variety of painting media and subjects has been reissued in paperback and is certainly worth another look. As they’re all here in one pile, it makes sense to review them all of a piece as there is a very strong series identity and they all follow a quite tightly-defined format.

Each book begins with a short introduction on “How to use this book” in which the author tells you that this is a book for the beginner, and to work through it without worrying too much about mistakes as you go – the whole idea is to learn. It’s nice that these sections are individually written rather than being copied wholesale from one volume to another. You could argue that it’s a couple of pages devoted to something that probably has more value in focussing the author’s mind than in helping the reader, but it can also be seen as an example of the care that has gone into what, superficially, seem to be very simple books. Now, as we clever people all know, simplicity is an art in itself and frequently conceals a great deal of work, and such is the case here. With only 96 medium format pages, each of the authors has to introduce materials and techniques, teach basic principles and then demonstrate as many different subjects as possible. There’s no room for waffle and so a lot of pictures and not too many words combine with a nice clear layout that gives a feeling of space to the pages to make these books easy to follow and unintimidating. They are perfect for the absolute beginner, the very person they’re aimed at.

Linda Birch
First published 2001, reissued 2006

Alwyn Crawshaw
First published 200, reissued 2006

Jackie Simmonds
First published 2001, reissued 2006

Melanie Cambridge
First published 2003, reissued 2006

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