Archive for category Medium: Watersoluble

Watercolours Unleashed || Jane Betteridge

This is one of those unfortunate titles that tells you very little about the content of the book, yet is almost impossible to think of an alternative for. If you’re not familiar with Jane’s work, you’re going to be a little nonplussed. It’s tempting to class it as mixed-media, but it’s not exactly that, because what she works with are mainly water-based media, though with quite a lot of ink thrown (almost literally) in.

The results are, I think, a bit Marmite; you’re either going to love them or hate them, though you should find them intriguing. Personally, I admire her experimentation and, when it works, it’s superb and unmatched. Sometimes, I’m not so sure. I do like the book, though. I think it’s honest, and prepared to take risks. I also don’t get the sense of this being the more successful tip of an iceberg of failed attempts piling up round the artist’s feet. If you like the idea of the watercolour version of taking a line for a walk, give this a look. If it does nothing else, it’ll stimulate your own experimental juices and get you going off on a track of your own.

The Society For All Artists (www.saa.co.uk) has produced a DVD to accompany the book. This is worth seeking out as it gives you a chance to see Jane in action, mainly with inks, and adds a sense of the dynamism that the printed page doesn’t quite convey.

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Drawing and Painting with Water Soluble Media || Fiona Peart

Fiona’s in her element with this intriguing and exciting book. I’m glad to have finally laid my hands on a finished copy. The first proofs I saw were quite low-resolution and didn’t do justice in any way to what are some very subtle images that exploit the possibilities of pencils, colour sticks, ink, watercolour, acrylic and gouache to the full.

There’s a very nice progression from the properties of the various materials – you do need to know what to use when – and experimenting with them. Fiona then moves quickly on to “the creative journey”, which shows you how to use various materials for pictorial effect. What I particularly like about the book is the fact that there are no technical exercises that are there just for their own sake; everything finishes up in a painting that captures the elements of the scene and has you thinking, “you’re right, no other medium could have done that.” If you’re familiar with the lavender fields at Snowshill in the Cotswolds, you’ll know how, although they demand representation, they’re really tricky to capture convincingly. “For this panoramic painting, bold pigment was drawn onto the paper, then sprayed with clean water and left to settle into the surface.” The result is an assault of colour, exactly as you get in life, but with little attempt at detail. It’s exactly the way to go about it, I now know.

The book is full of ideas, projects, hints and tips, demonstrations and simple wisdom. It’s a real feast of painting and of imagination and should open up a world of possibilities.

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