Archive for category Series: My Watercolour Secrets

Brushmarks For Trees || Bee Morrison

Bee Morrison has followed her excellent little book on flowers with one on the much less extensively covered subject of trees. Very few people set out to paint a tree as a subject in its own right, but they’re an essential element of any landscape. Get them wrong, however small they appear, and everything else will follow and your finished result will always fail.

If you’ve ever watched an instructional DVD, the chances are the artist has their own trick way of painting trees: look, you just do this, this and this and it’s a convincing-looking arboricus genericus. Start including woodlands or copses, or just a prominent hedgerow tree, however, and you also need to be aware of the basic shapes of oaks, ashes and elms at least. And then, of course, they all change their outlines in the different seasons from bare branches to hints of green shoots to the fully-dressed appearance of summer and the dying fall of autumn.

All this sounds very scientific and botanical, but the thing is that your viewers all know what a tree looks like. They may not be able to tell you anything about it, but they’ll sure as hell know if you’ve got even the tiniest detail wrong! So, does this mean you’d better give up landscape painting until you’ve been on a course? Well no because, as I hinted at the beginning, the tree isn’t your main subject. All you really need to know is the basic shapes and a few ways to get them right and looking realistic. Thankfully, this is largely a matter of brushwork, hence the title of the book.

Bee packs an enormous amount into 40 pages and gives you nice, large and clear illustrations, with the words kept to a minimum, so you really won’t have trouble following her or, probably, think that you ever need to buy another book on trees.

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Brushmarks for Flowers || Bee Morrison

This privately published little book is quite one of the best introductions to flower painting I’ve seen. The clear layout and simple instructions give an immediate sense of what’s going on and a real “I could do that” feeling.

The basis of the book is nine individual demonstrations featuring a single flower type, including tulips, poppies, roses and geraniums, with a list of the colours used and clearly laid out instructions on how to use the brush to make the various marks and shapes. There are few words and they’re elegantly handwritten, giving the whole thing a feel of both quality and intimacy. A couple of pages at the end on putting figures in a painting feel like a gift.

Bee Morrison has been teaching and producing learning aids for some time and this book represents what I’ve always felt she had in her. Don’t be put off by the privately-published tag; this is a top quality piece of work that doesn’t cut any corners. At nearly £10, it’s more expensive than it would be from a commercial publisher, but it’s still worth every penny and you’d never get this much information for the money anywhere else.

Flower painting is a big subject and, for the beginner, just finding a place to start can be one of the most daunting problems. Bee has come up with a solution to that. Work through this book and you’ll be well on the way.

Every year, Artbookreview gives a little award to the best book I’ve written about in the past 12 months. No committees, no champagne receptions, no B-list celebrities, just me. When this one arrived, I already had notes for a shortlist, but then it was obvious. This really is the most useful and practical book that’s landed on my mat on 2007. You can’t buy it on Amazon (so I don’t even get a commission on sales!), but click on the link below to go to Bee’s own website.

First published 2007

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