Archive for category Series: Artist’s Bible

Watercolour Artist's Colour Mixing Bible || Moira Clinch & David Webb

Colour mixing is an art, a skill in its own right and whole books have been written about it. In fact, this is one!

There are two basic approaches. The first is to take a series of paintings and analyse their palette, building from there toward the practical aspect of structuring colour. The best of these is Tony Paul’s How to Mix & Use Colour. The other approach is the encyclopaedia, of which there have been a number over the years. These typically contain only a few illustrations of actual paintings, usually relating to a specific subject or colour type, and mainly consist of pages of colours swatches. As far as attractiveness goes, the first type of book wins hands down, for the latter really is a bit like watching paint dry.

However, we’re serious students and we’re not going to let such triviality put us off! And a good thing too, because, in the encyclopaedia approach, more is definitely more. More base colour, more mixes and more tints and more glazes. Structure is everything, because you need to be able to find your way around a book like this quickly and easily. It’s not one you’re going to keep by the bedside to dip into last thing at night – at least, not unless you suffer from insomnia, I suppose. But I’m being unfair. The pages of this book, which you should own unless you’re one of those people who knew how to mix colour the day they were born (and there are people like that and, if you’re one of them, please don’t write and tell me this book is a waste of time!), the pages you should bookmark are nos 40-43. These give you the key to the colour sections and to the page layout.

So, there you are, easel firmly planted, palette in one hand, brush in the other and the background hills are a wonderful shade of … of … of … Right, go to greens, greens with a bit of blue, here we are, Cobalt Turquoise and mix it with Yellow Ochre, about 60-40. OK, in reality, you should be able to do something as basic as that fairly much straight off your head, but there will be occasions when a particular colour proves elusive. Now, you just know that fiddling around is going to result in grey mud, so this is where a book like this comes into its own. It’s a cheat, really, but everyone has a few of those and no-one should be ashamed of it.

The publisher claims more than 2500 mixes and glaze effects and I’m sure they’re right. It’s enough for anyone. Oh, it’s also a handy coat-pocket size and spiral bound to that it’ll lay flat when you’re using it. They think of everything.

Year published: 2006
List price: £17.99

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The Watercolour Artist’s Bible || Marylin Scott

Part of a wider series that covers several different media, this is a handy little book that offers a potted guide to a great many painting techniques. It comes in a hard backed, spiral binding that lays flat in use so that you can consult it as you work. In fact, this is how it’s intended to be used: each of the techniques covered is dealt with in one double-page spread, so it’s nicely concise with short explanatory paragraphs and detail illustrations that show you just what’s going on and no more than necessary.

In all, there are eighty of these spreads, divided into nine sections – Getting to Know Your Medium, Basic Techniques, Advanced Techniques, Hints & Tips, Landscape, Waterscapes, Buildings, Still Life & Flowers and People. Within these, there’s everything from choosing colours and overpainting effects through blending and using masking fluid to wax resist, line & wash, trees, skies and reflections. Inevitably, just what goes where is a little haphazard – is wet-on-dry really a more basic technique than line and wash, for instance? – but it’s not disorganised and does at least serve to break the book up a bit and make it reasonably manageable. When it comes to the subject-based sections, this are a bit easier – rocks and mountains clearly belong in the Landscape section just as garden settings do in Still Life & Flowers. It would be picky to criticise the book for this, but it’s worth being aware that it’s not absolutely handed to you on a plate, you do need to find your way about for yourself a bit.

This is not an in-depth guide, nor does it pretend to be and the editors have wisely avoided referring to it as an encyclopaedia. A bible is something to be dipped into and used for reference when you want guidance on a particular point, so, in that sense, it does pretty much do what it says on the cover. You can get more book for £12.99, but you won’t get spiral binding much cheaper, so you pays your money and takes your choice on that one.

Year published: 2005
List price: £12.99

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