Archive for category Publisher: Search Press

Take 3 Colours – Watercolour Snow Scenes || Grahame Booth

Search Press have become adept at producing series that include books that stand on their own merits rather than simply fitting into pre-defined slots. Much of that is down to having as simple an idea as possible. As a result authors don’t need to go into contortions to get the correct shape and are free to express themselves as they normally do. This makes the whole idea easy to explain to those same authors so that everyone has a clear idea of what’s required. That, of course, is the key to any successful book, but it’s surprising (and rather alarming) how often it gets missed. If everyone’s pulling in different directions, the dog’s sure not to miss out on its dinner.

All of which is a preamble to saying that I like this a lot. Snow is as tricky a subject as water: it’s one of those things that isn’t really there. Water relies on reflection, but snow can be even more difficult. No, it’s not just matter of a large tube of titanium white or areas of paper left intentionally blank. Snow doesn’t reflect exactly, and it has an identifiable form in a way that water doesn’t, but it takes its appearance from the light and shade that fall on it. Cue plenty of opportunities for over-complication and far too many colours in the mix.

And, as if by magic – 3 colours and 3 brushes. Less is more, simplification is always going to be your friend. As the nights draw in and who knows what precipitation the weather will bring, here’s a guide that will tell you all you need to know. No, not everything – that would be a tall order in just 9 projects – but enough for you to understand what’s happening on your palette, brushes and paper and you didn’t really need more than that, did you?

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Ready to Paint in 30 Minutes – Landscapes in Acrylics || Barry Herniman

There’s something for everyone in this welcome addition to an excellent series. Barry covers trees, rocks, buildings, water, skies and even seas. Demonstrations use the watercolour technique, so you’ll be working on paper without impasto. I’ve yet to see traceable outlines that work on canvas, though I can’t see why it would be impossible.

This isn’t just a good book within the series, though, it’s a very thorough grounding in landscape elements and techniques in its own right and something to consider even if you don’t want pre-drawn outlines.

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Drawing Trees & Flowers || Margaret Eggleton and Denis-John Naylor

This is a bind up of two volumes that have previously appeared. You can read Trees here and Flowers here.

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David Bellamy’s Landscapes Through The Seasons in Watercolour

This is an expanded version of David’s Winter Landscapes which appeared in 2014. It’s therefore no surprise that this is the season that gets the greatest coverage. Overall, on a back-of-the-envelope calculation, about two-thirds is new material. For a ten quid paperback, that’s not exactly daylight robbery if you have the previous book (which, as one of David’s super-fans, you will).

If this is all new to you, be assured that the integration is good and you won’t be able to see the joins. Search Press are very good at this kind of thing and the progress is seamless. What may appear slightly odd is that it begins with Summer, especially as it comes out in Autumn. This is all down the Beastly Virus – it was one of the many titles that got delayed, having been slated for the middle of the year. Most books on the seasons begin with Spring because – well – because any start point than that is always going to be idiosyncratic. Move on, it’s not a biggie.

The whole thing is sound and well executed, with the demonstrations and overall quality of work fully up to the standard you’d expect but (whispers), sometimes don’t get from David. One or two of his more recent books have felt – to me, at least – a little rushed and almost as though his heart wasn’t in it. If you wondered whether he was losing his creative mojo, though, just look at Arctic Light. That’s a tour de force.

So, anyway, this is as thorough a guide to painting outdoors at all times of the year and in all weathers as you could wish. At 96 pages, it’s practically concise, but there’s no wasted space and it feels a lot larger. David isn’t just a great painter, he’s a great distiller of information and the way it’s presented. Do you get the impression I’m telling you to buy this? Good.

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Paint Pad Poster Book – City Scenes

The first thing that’ll strike you on opening this is the sheer amount of detail in the source images. These are not simply blow-ups of the ones that appeared in the original books (I noted features of the series when I wrote about the first volume), they’ve been completely re-originated so that colours, marks and even granulation are immediately visible. It’s striking, as it should be.

The five scenes here cover bridges, statues, vegetation and street furniture as well as water, buildings and other structures. The instructions are simple and you should be able to produce results you can be proud to display for only a little over £3 a time.

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Acrylic Paint Pouring || Tanja Jung

I’ll admit that paint pouring, which is allegedly “the latest technique to take the art world by storm” leaves me cold. This time next year, will we be looking back and wondering what it was all about? I think we will.

However, if you want to be taken by storm and are thinking of dipping your toe in the water, you won’t find a better introduction than this. Quite rightly, no previous knowledge is assumed and there are clear explanations of materials, working methods and – crucially – what happens and why. To achieve control, you really do need to understand your materials and preparation counts for a lot, saving countless messy and potentially costly mistakes.

The core of the book is a series of sixteen straightforward projects, each disposed of in four pages. These get you practising techniques as well as discovering creativity; the lack of complication and over-thinking mean you’re never going to feel lost. There’s no point in simply learning to follow paint-by-numbers instructions – you’re always going to be wanting to branch out on your own, which you’ll be ready to when you’ve finished here.

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The Kew Book of Painting Roses in Watercolour || Trevor Waugh

This is the second volume in this new series and it offers a perennially popular subject. I said of its predecessor on orchids that, while not perhaps the most obvious subject, those flowers nevertheless offered a wide variety of shape, form and colour. Well, the same is true of roses, but coupled with the fact that examples are available in just about every garden. Am I implying that this should have been the one that introduced the series? You know what, maybe I am.

Now that we have two volumes under our belt, it’s possible to take a broader look and it’s pleasing to say that, despite the Kew connection, these books are not heading in a botanical direction. That, while impressive, would be a shame because very few people want (or, perhaps, are able) to work in such precise detail. This, therefore, is primarily a Trevor Waugh book. If you’re familiar with his work, you’ll know that it’s primarily about colour and the feel, the character of the flower and not the minute details of its petals and stamens. I can’t claim to have audited every page, but I do not believe that the word “calyx” appears anywhere, and hurrah for that.

So, what you get are results that look and, above all, feel like roses. They have depth, both in terms of form and colour, they shimmer and, just maybe, if you catch them quickly, dance in the breeze. Simply, they’re a joy.

This is, of course, primarily a book about painting, not about roses. The usual preliminaries deal with colour and brushwork, with some deceptively simple exercises you really shouldn’t skip. These teach you far more than just elementary skills, even if that’s what they look like. For the reset, there are three full step-by-step projects that cover not only the whole flower, but also leaves, stems and the play of light. There’s nothing specific about perspective, but it’s in there – Trevor is very good at disguising the technical stuff and you’ll have got through it before you even realise it’s happening.

Is this perfect? Maybe. Is it too good to be true? Certainly not.

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Ready to Paint in 30 Minutes – Mountain Scenes in Watercolour || Lesley Linley

Having lived for several years on Skye, Lesley is well-placed to understand the many moods and atmospheric variation of mountain landscapes and this latest addition to an excellent series covers everything from aerial perspective and tonal recession to textures in rock and reflections in water.

Each of the 32 projects concentrates on a single topic, so there are no complex scenes to get bogged down in. The whole idea is to develop your skills through simple exercises, each with a full-size A6 tracing that’s easy to transport and can be completed quickly. If you’re stuck on a larger work of your own, you could even break off for a quick bit of revision before going on – so much better than spoiling the whole thing at the last minute!

This is a delightful book in a series that’s already been well thought-out and Lesley’s confident approach makes it especially easy to follow.

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Artist’s Guide to Human Anatomy || Giovanni Civardi

I’m not absolutely sure whether this is a new book or one of the older titles that has been reissued. To a very large extent, that’s not relevant, as these reissues appear to have all new origination and are often in a larger format. Quite simply, if you have an old and well-thumbed copy, you’ll probably want this anyway.

Giovanni has, of course, produced books on just about every aspect of figure drawing, but this one fills in the gap for those who need more about the actual structure of the human body. Inevitably, there’s a medical aspect to some of this, and many artists may feel that it gives them more information than they need. At the same time, this is written in Giovanni’s characteristic straightforward style and is definitely for the lay reader rather than the specialist.

There is no doubt that it’s thorough. There’s plenty of information about bone and muscle structure as well as how everything fits together and sustains the outward pose. Beyond the technicality there’s a wealth of aesthetic material that’s of fundamental use to the artist.

If you want to know what underpins the figures you’re drawing, how and why they appear the way they do, there’s no better guide, from an artistic point of view, than this.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Watercolour With Mixed Media || Alison C Board

Mixed media is all too often an excuse for playing with technique to no specific end. Alternatively, it’s a footnote in a book about another medium – “you can always add a bit of gouache to create highlights” or “how about rolling up some cling film and seeing what happens?”

Alison has made something of a career out of working with a huge variety of techniques and media and her armoury is huge. So huge, in fact, that if she wasn’t absolutely on top of it, this would be the messiest book ever, both in terms of results and organisation. She is, however, absolutely confident with her methods and this is a masterpiece.

Its main merit is that it isn’t a technical book at all. Or, rather, it’s absolutely about technique, but only for creative ends. You don’t put paint on paper to cover up the surface, you do it to create an image that satisfies both you and the viewer. You might want to convey the tranquillity of a rolling landscape, or the play of light and colour in a flower or plant, but the point is that it’s all about the end result, not how you got there. A chef creates a dish that delights the diner and, if another chef admires the method of cooking, that’s just a sideshow.

So, buckle up and prepare to be astounded. The projects here include flowers, landscapes, people and animals. Materials include both wet and dry media as well as accessories such as hessian, bubble wrap and even chicken wire to create texture. All these things you’d expect, but look at the results – they don’t scream “clever” at you, they invite you to study the inner character of the subject. Less is more, the invisible is the first thing you see. Oh, and by the way, the figure demonstration is of a dancer: the sense of movement Alison (a trained ballet teacher) gets into a static pose will just take your breath away.

If you haven’t already gathered that I’m calling this the best book ever on mixed media, well, I am.

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