Archive for category Publisher: Batsford

Masterclass in Colour || Meriel Thurstan & Rosie Martin

Here’s something completely different from Meriel & Rosie. After their really quite advanced books on painting flowers and natural subjects, this is altogether simpler. Simpler, in fact, than the title implies – I’m really not sure how the word “masterclass” got in there and I’m concerned it might frighten a few people off. Colour has a reputation for being difficult, you see. In many ways, the subtitle defines it better: “a colouring workbook of techniques and inspiration”.

The premise is simple enough. There are outlines that you can colour in – you could do it right there on the printed page if you want – with instructions that’ll show you how to build up tints and shading quickly and reliably. The authors suggest that you can use coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, watercolour paint or felt tips, which gives you a good choice of materials. As a primer on how colours work in an image, this is really easy to follow – to the extent that I really do think you could master it from this book alone (which doesn’t quite make a masterclass, he quibbled!)

The subjects are, as you’d probably expect, flowers and plants, and the page size is generous so that you get images that you can see and work with. It’s rather clever, too, in catching on to the popularity of adult colouring books, but teaching at the same time. Yes, it’s instructional, but fun too.

Meriel & Rosie have a reputation for hitting the nail on the head, and this won’t dent it at all.

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Contemporary Landscapes in Mixed Media || Soraya French

Mixed media gets a mixed press and can have mixed results. Like everything else, it’s important not to use it for its own sake, but rather for the effects it offers and creative opportunities it makes available.

Soraya French’s work involves a fair degree of abstraction, which both enhances and is enhanced by her use of colour. This is a fine balance that produces results that are recognisable while going a good way beyond simple representation.

Soraya uses acrylics, watercolours, inks and gel media to create vivid images that capture mood, atmosphere and lighting. In this hugely informative book, she explains her working methods and even includes a few projects and demonstrations that give you a chance to practise for yourself. As well as traditional media, you’ll find out about texture mediums, gels and pastes and, most importantly, how to combine all these into worthwhile results. Soraya also explains how she finds inspiration and chooses formats and composition for maximum impact. She also looks at technical matters such as underpainting, lost and found edges and negative shapes that affect how the viewer sees the result.

This is a comprehensive guide to both mixed media and semi-abstract landscape painting that is full of inspiration and practical advice.

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Learn to Paint People Quickly || Hazel Soan

This series from Batsford is shaping up nicely and any book on painting people, especially as furniture for a larger work, is welcome.

Not everyone by any means wants to paint people as a subject in themselves, but an unpopulated painting always has a neglected look to it. In common with the style of the series, this is very much illustration-led and the text is concise to the point of terseness and mainly confined to explanatory captions. It should also be said that this is very welcome – if you don’t want an exhaustive in-depth study, being shown what’s going on rather than lectured at length is the proverbial breath of fresh air.

This is not to say that Hazel doesn’t manage to make the coverage comprehensive. There’s information on shape, proportion, pose, lighting and clothing and the chapters are arranged so that you can locate one particular topic easily. If you want to venture into portraiture, Hazel offers good basic advice, although you will probably want to graduate to more dedicated books as well. Groups, action and settings all get a look-in as well, making this one of the best starting-points you’ll find.

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Rosie Sanders’ Flowers

Subtitled “a celebration of botanical art”, this beautifully produced and re-produced large-format book does its subject more than justice.

Something of a departure for Batsford, this contains no instructional material, but would sit well with any student or lover of botanical painting. The generous dimensions allow the work to be reproduced at more or less full size and the origination ensures that there are no failures of resolution, as can easily happen if the printing process is not closely monitored.

Rosie’s work has been exhibited at Kew and she has also received no fewer than five gold medals from the Royal Horticultural Society and won the RA miniature award. She has also been compared to Georgia O’Keefe. What this tells us, I think, is that this is work of the highest scientific as well as artistic quality. I said that there is no instructional content, and there is also no commentary other than the botanic information provided by Dr Andreas Honegger.

This is a sumptuous production that would grace any collection of art books.

http://amzn.to/2iIAGQ2

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Colour and Line in Watercolour || Glen Scouller

The term “mixed media” often produces a mixed bag, but this is nicely concentrated as Glen Scouller works primarily in pen, ink and watercolour wash. He also works directly from life and this is the unstated second theme of the book – one, indeed, for which you might consider buying it, regardless of the medium.

The colour and line of the title are entirely appropriate, but there is a third aspect to Glen’s work: light, which both informs and pervades his work, bringing with it bright colours and vivid results that a fluidity of line fills with life and movement.

As is so often the case with books by artists who are not primarily teachers, this is in the “how I work” style, though the step-by-step demonstrations that are included are easy to follow and there is a notable lack of bravura and jargon. His advice on working methods, both outdoors and in the studio, is particularly sound and there are also useful tips on the use of sketchbooks.

This is perhaps a book more about the creative process of painting than about the technical aspects – and especially not their minutiae. Maybe the use of mixed media, rather than a concentration on any particularly “pure” form, helps.

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Learn Drawing Quickly || Sharon Finmark

Like its Oils counterpart, this isn’t really so much about drawing for those who have far better things to do, than about getting things down quickly and without fuss. If you use drawing as a means of taking notes and recording a scene that may disintegrate quickly, this is an invaluable skill. It’s also handy if you’re out with a companion who doesn’t want to stand around for hours while you get every detail just right.

Sharon has a loose, pleasant style that lends itself admirably to this approach and she covers an excellent variety of subjects as well as drawing styles. Buildings, people, street scenes, flowers and landscapes are shown in pen, pencil, charcoal, wash and pastel. The small pages are not a hindrance as the illustrations are given plenty of space and the text is kept to the form of concise notes.

There’s much to like here and a pleasantly fresh look and feel to both the content and the production that should appeal to readers of any level of skill.

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Colour Your Own Dutch Masters

I don’t normally review colouring-in books, and only rarely books without words. However, there are a few exceptions and I’m prepared to make one in this case. My initial reaction was “why would you want to?”, but it looks like a lot of fun and I’m (almost) prepared to have a go myself.

These are neatly extracted outlines of works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, Van Dyck, Jan Steen, Rubens and more, 22 in all. It should keep you happy for a long time and you can be as precise or disruptive as you like. In terms of bangs per buck, I’d say it’s among the best value you could get for a tenner.

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