Archive for category Series: Index
In the past, I’ve been fairly (well, OK, extremely) dismissive of books which are made small to fit a perceived pocket-book market and which would really be so much better if someone would just give them space to breathe and the page size to allow you to see what’s going on. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve had quite a go at them. I probably need The Little Book of Calm.
And that’s the point; they sell very well, there’s a demand for them, they meet a need. So I’m not going to tell you that I can’t quite see the point of a book of drawing techniques that’s 6 inches by 4 inches and would sit nicely in the pocket of a reasonably substantial jacket. And which has a flexible cover that won’t crease or dog-ear as you carry it about. This format worked very well in the same publisher’s Colour Mixing Index, but I have to admit that, while you might well want to have a guide to colour mixing about your person, I’m not sure that you’re going to sit down in the middle of a field and start consulting a textbook in order to decide which drawing technique to use.
But, like I said, I’m not going to say all that because you’ll love it and it’ll sell by the truckload and then I’ll be wrong and I am Never Wrong. What the limited page size does do is make sure the author keeps things simple and it does have to be said that the writer, editors and designers involved with this book have understood the concept perfectly and work well within the format they’ve given themselves. Each technique gets a single two-page spread and no more, with example illustrations and a minimum of text (so you won’t have to strain your eyes to read it) and it doesn’t mess about. OK, maybe it’s not a book to carry about, but neither is it one you have to keep putting back on the shelf. Keep it beside you and it won’t get in the way and you can pick it up and dip into it at any time, which is probably the best way of using it. It won’t tell you something you don’t know all the time, but it will do that often enough to justify the purchase price.
Everything about this book is right: the size, the coverage, the format, what it doesn’t include and even the flexible covers that allow you to flick through it easily yet are more than a paperback so that it doesn’t get dog-eared.
Do you need it? Well, only you can tell. If colour mixing comes naturally to you, if you can look at a cloud and say, “oh yes, Payne’s Grey with Alizarin Crimson and just a touch of Cadmium Yellow Deep”, then you’re unlikely to want a guide to colour mixing. If, on the other hand, that last statement brings you out in a cold sweat, then you’re one of the legions who struggle and whose existence is hinted at by the plethora of guides that are already on the market.
OK, so this is just another one? Well, yes, but someone has taken the trouble to look at the competition and come up with something different. First up, this little book (it’s jacket pocket size, but fat at 320 pages) doesn’t attempt to teach you how to paint. There’s 10 pages at the beginning on the basics of mixing colours and then it’s nothing but colour swatches, arranged by medium, base colour and tint. It’s not a book to sit down and read, it’s one to flick through (this is where the clever production design comes in), find what you want and look up the constituent parts. It’s small enough to take with you in the field, so you don’t ever need to be without it and it covers watercolour, oils, acrylic, gouache and ink – the only book of this type to include that last one, as far as I’m aware.
The only thing you might need to be aware of it before you shell out is that the colour names are from the Winsor & Newton range. This necessarily narrows its appeal if you don’t use their paints, but it does mean you get specific recommendations rather than generic names you then have to translate. You can’t have everything, I suppose. That small caveat aside, this is a book worth buying if you have the slightest trouble with colour mixing and even if you have other guides already. It feels nice in the hand which is a better quality in a book than is often credited.
David & Charles 2007
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