Archive for category Publisher: Collins & Brown

Beginner’s Watercolour || Nicola Hodgson, Richard Taylor & Albany Wiseman

OK, I cheated there. The list of authors comes from the acknowledgements at the back of the book, which is otherwise anonymous. The publisher wants you to concentrate on the content, not who it’s by.

And that’s completely right. This is subtitled “simple projects for artists” and it’s just that. Collins & Brown was an imprint that was Hoovered up under the Anova/Pavilion umbrella and isn’t, to my knowledge, publishing new material any more. This is a scissors and paste job, as far as I’m aware – I can’t see either Richard Taylor or Albany Wiseman lending their names anonymously, though they did have books published by C&B many moons ago. I haven’t heard of Nicola Hodgson, and her name doesn’t appear in the picture credits, so I reckon she’s the editor who pulled all this together.

I hope I’m right in all this Sherlockery because she’s done one of the best jobs of its kind I’ve ever seen. The book is seamless and Richard and Albany’s styles complement each other perfectly, with no sense of jarring jumps from one to the other. The text looks all new and written to go with the demonstrations, rather than being scissored from the original books. Paste-ups are getting so good* that it’s becoming increasingly hard to see the joins, but this has the look and feel of a new book put together by someone with a clear vision and it does a superb job of being what it says it is.

I’d honestly recommend this to almost anyone. It’s an interesting idea, being neither over-simple nor too advanced. It’s not one of those cobbled-together “introduction to painting” books that I despair of because no artist, even a beginner, would ever buy them for themselves. It’s a series of projects, just as it says, clearly explained, laid out and illustrated. You’re bound to find something here that’ll interest and inform you. I’d even venture to suggest that, even if you have the original books (I still think I’m right about that), you’d find something new.

Well done all round.

* Actually, when did that happen? The technique’s been around since the dawn of time, but the sudden quality jump is recent, too recent just to be down to the advent of digital layouts. Someone’s had a lightbulb flick on somewhere and it’s sparked all the others.

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Ultimate Art Bible || ed Sarah Hoggett

This is a bind-up of a series that Collins & Brown (now part of Anova) produced a few years ago. They’ve done such a good job of it that the joins are invisible, but the process has also anonymised the contributions so that it’s actually not possible to tell whose work you’re looking at.

Not, I think, that any of that matters. This is aimed at the sort of people who will probably only buy one art book and want something comprehensive. I’ve always argued that these are probably also people who are buying for someone else. All the main media are covered and that’s not something that those who are serious about their painting tend to want. We find our medium and stick to it, thank you very much.

Whatever. Although this is old material, it doesn’t look it; the book is nicely comprehensive and very instructional and you get a heck of a lot for your money, although 25 quid is also a heck of a lot of money for what it is.

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Chinese Flower Painting Made Easy || Rebecca Yue

The phrase “made easy” in a book title should always be a sign to be wary. It usually means either exactly the opposite or that the subject is being treated at a superficial level suitable for those who only want to skim the surface. Even as beginners’ guides, such books are rarely suitable for someone who has a serious interest that they want to pursue further.

It’s therefore nice to be able to recommend something that breaks this mould. No, this isn’t a book that will teach you flower painting in a few days; indeed, it’s one that will repay a fair amount of study but, if you’re new to this style of painting, it’ll take you quite a long way. Covering flower and foliage types as well as colours and brushwork, the book is set out as a series of one- or two-page demonstrations with plenty of information in the form of extended captions that are straightforward to follow and form a more or less natural progression. Each one also links in to others, which are cross-referenced. Although this can lead to quite a lot of jumping around pages, it keeps the basic structure simple, which is the main aim of the book.

Flower painting and the Chinese style were in many ways made for each other. The unfussy, slightly loose style and simple colours of Chinese painting match the need for an interpretive approach to flower painting where the main requirement is not for a detailed botanical record.

Brushstrokes are important in Chinese painting and a whole leaf, petal or stem will often be handled in a single one. The book is therefore structured round them, with a whole chapter devoted to each of the seven main ones, a variety of flower and foliage types being demonstrated using each.

This is a book whose scope and depth are perhaps belied by its title. At 160 pages, it also represents good value for the amount of information provided.

Year published: 2004
List price: £14.99

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