Archive for category Publisher: Watson Guptill

Peggy Dean’s Guide to Nature Drawing & Watercolor

This is a simple guide that uses simple shapes to help you build up images of flowers, trees, plants and animals. The text is written in a pleasantly conversational style that comes across as warm and accessible, rather than affected and mannered, as these things often can. I get the feeling that Peggy would be an appealing tutor in person and that you could have a lot of fun as well as learning a great deal with her.

As it is, we just have the book, but the author’s personality shines through. The presentation is at all times down-to-earth and business-like and the whole thing is generally easy to follow. That the illustrations are graphic – made up from printed colours – rather than being half-tones of actual paint – doesn’t matter and actually just seems to make things clearer.

The initial impression is of a cornucopia, of much more than you can take in at a glance and this is borne out by further examination. Given the wide variety of subjects covered, this isn’t so much a book to read from cover to cover as one to turn to when you want advice on a particular topic. That you may also find yourself straying further afield just adds to the sense of fun and adventure it engenders.

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Everyday Watercolor Flowers || Jenna Rainey

This very simple guide is an ideal introduction to flower painting. The format is a standard series of steps covering a wide variety of flower types and there are good instructions that go into plenty of detail about the processes involved.

Following the same working method means that, once you’ve got the hang of how the book works, you can concentrate on the results, rather than having to learn the ropes every time and this promotes both confidence and positive results.

The quality of the illustrations isn’t as good as it might be, though. Detail is often obscured and the colours seem rather washed out. Although this is a drawback, the approach throughout is sound and it’s still a very worthwhile book.

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Draw People Every Day || Kagan McLeod

The subtitle, short lessons in portrait and figure drawing using ink and color, sums this up perfectly. Whether it appeals to you will depend on whether you like the author’s loose, yet rather blocky style. Even if it’s not entirely for you, there’s no denying the sheer variety of types, shapes, poses and situations illustrated.

As the subtitle hints, this isn’t so much a book to read or work through as one to dip into for ideas and inspiration. Maybe you’ll want a reference for a seated figure, or to practise dynamic movement or the fall of clothing. If it’s hair you’re getting stuck on, you’ll like long, short, straight or curled here. There’s plenty of advice, too, on composition and mark-making and this is a very comprehensive guide that’s fun and really rather refreshing.

The author’s style isn’t, as it happens, particularly to my taste, but I still like the book a lot.

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The Two-Pencil Method || Mark Crilley

The title tells you what this book is likely to be about, and the subtitle confirms the bold claim: “the revolutionary approach to drawing it all”. No holding back, then.

The claim should be easy to verify – open the book at any point and … are the results any good? A bit more flicking through confirms that, oh my goodness, they are. Not only can Mark draw, but confining himself to one graphite and one black coloured pencil isn’t going to hold him back. A short discussion of materials leads on to basic mark-making and you’ll want to read this because this level of simplicity absolutely depends on getting the foundations right.

From here, there’s a look at working with simple objects and different types of subject, handily introducing things such as hard and soft edges, shapes, tones and textures. As well as being a revolutionary approach, it also turns out that this is a very nicely graduated course in basic drawing. You like it even more, don’t you?

The final section (roughly half the book) is a series of short demonstrations that are really more like tutorials. These cover just about every subject you’re likely to encounter, by way of landscapes to portraits via animals, water and still lifes.

If you like drawing, this is a stonkingly good survey of working methods tucked inside the aforesaid “revolutionary approach” (that’s really just an excuse for simplifying and clearing out a few cobwebs).

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Essential Techniques of Landscape Drawing || Suzanne Brooker

This masterclass in landscape drawing contains a wealth of information, both practical and theoretical. A lot of Watson Guptill books are ones to read rather than work with, but there are quite a lot of exercises and demonstrations here, covering elements such as clouds and skies, hills, trees and water. Suzanne also discusses marks and lines, composition, texture and shading.

In spite of the amount and density of the information presented, the generous page size means that the layout never feels crammed and you’re unlikely ever to feel overwhelmed. This is helped in part by the sensible chapter structure that is both progressive and topical. It’s a comprehensive guide that should prove thoroughly rewarding.

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Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner || Claire Watson Garcia

You couldn’t wish for a more user-friendly title than this, but does it live up to its claim? Well, the strapline “15th anniversary (revised) edition” suggests a consistent seller and that’s something you can’t easily achieve simply by fooling enough of the people enough of the time. I’m also always encouraged when a book’s blurb tells me that it’s based on the author’s teaching experience, because that generally means it’ll react to real-life issues and problems raised by real-life students. To survive, a teacher has to be good not merely at what they do, but at conveying it.

So, all-in-all, let’s say that this starts off more than a little encouragingly. So, how does it differ from any of the other basic drawing books? Well, if I’m honest, not a lot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a field that’s been well covered, a basic modus operandi has usually been established and. although there are sometimes attempts to overturn this, all they usually manage to prove is that tried and tested methods are best. So, again, full marks for pragmatism.

There’s plenty of basic information here: materials, methods, mark-making, pencil work, washes, portraiture and still life. Yes, you read that right: the subject matter is pretty much limited to objects and people. That’s fine, as both of those offer plenty of challenges in perspective, shape and tone but, if you wanted flowers or landscapes, you’d be looking in vain. The other problem I have, and this is rather a large one, is that the results look … well … frankly amateurish. The method of explaining isn’t bad, but some of the portraits look more like the before (the book) than after it.

You might, of course, think that this makes the whole thing more accessible. That the author doesn’t have such an impossibly elegant style that you’d be incapable of emulating it, and I wouldn’t argue with that. I’m a great fan of the achievable style, but I still want it to be something I can aspire to, not something I might be doing already.

Sorry, in spite of everything I said at the beginning, I just don’t think this cuts the mustard.

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Draw Your Day || Samantha Dion Baker

This is by no means the first book on keeping a sketch journal, but it is among the most attractive. The idea is simple enough: you simply draw elements of your day, journey or interests as a record, a notebook or a source of ideas for other work.

What marks this out is the sheer variety of material and the fact that the author gives every appearance of practising what she preaches. Her examples don’t have look as though they have been drawn to fill the brief and are entirely credible as actual slices of life. There’s plenty of talk about materials and techniques and the book would work well as an introduction to sketching. If you’re looking for inspiration, journaling has much to recommend it: you simply work with what you see rather than having to spend time searching for subjects and getting bogged down in what might or might not be the right one.

Samantha’s style is loose and free and she incorporates all matter of objects as well as text. Some pages are simple representations, other more complex compositions that tell a longer story.

It’s intriguing, inspiring and rather a lot of fun.

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