Archive for category Series: Pocket Palette

The Oil Painter's Pocket Palette || Rosalind Cuthbert

Although this is not a new book (it first appeared in 1993), the fact that it is still in print and, even more, that Search Press, (who were not the original publisher) have reissued it in its correct spiral binding, testifies to its longevity and its value. Search Press first took this series over in 2000 and put them out in paperback, which is not their natural habitat. The Pocket Palette series really only works if you can lay the books out flat and refer to them while both your hands are tied up mixing colours. There’s a mixed metaphor in there somewhere and you know what I mean, so don’t be pedantic and ask me to unravel it.

The arrangement of the book starts with colour types and then provides examples of specific colour mixes in a range of three tints. There is also a short piece on using each colour type and a very useful section on skin tones which would, itself, justify the purchase price.

There have been other, more comprehensive, encyclopaedias of colour mixing since this series appeared, but one of its great merits is its selective nature; these are compact little books you can carry about with you and they don’t overburden you with more than you need.

Any serious artist will tell you that colour mixing and selection are so much the artist’s stock in trade that they should be second-nature. This is true, but beginners have to start somewhere and, as an aid to confidence, the series is invaluable. If you won’t put brush to palette without detailed consultation, you have a lot to learn, but then again, this is as good a place to learn as any.

Search Press reissued 2008

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The Watercolour Painter’s Pocket Palette || Moira Clinch

This is such a good idea that it’s been copied and adapted many times since this book first appeared in 1991. Even then, it wasn’t necessarily the first time this had been done, but the simplicity with which it’s presented makes this by far the best manifestation of the genre.

Quarto, the book packaging company, have always been at the forefront of illustrated instructional book design in a number of fields, and it’s a tribute to their skills that this can be reprinted untouched and remain as fresh today as it was when it first appeared 15 years ago.

Divided by colour type, what you get is a series of colour swatches made from two-part mixes with, in most cases, gradations of hue and tint. To keep things interesting, each chapter also includes an example painting with a short explanation of how various details, such as shadows, were achieved by the use of colour.

The secret of the book is its simplicity and the fact that it doesn’t attempt to be overly comprehensive (for that, you want The Watercolour Artist’s Colour Mixing Bible) or more instructional than it needs to be. Even so, you get a guide to over 800 colour mixes that you can find quickly and replicate at will. The book is only 64 pages long, will fit in a pocket and is also a spiral bound hardback that will lay flat in use, so even the format is well thought-out. The only possible drawback is that the colours are pre-printed and therefore subject to the limitations of the printing process, but that won’t detain you long as the reproduction is excellent. If you want something really faithful, then you need the Michael Wilcox books, but you need to complete those yourself and they require a considerable investment in time.

Anyway, 10 out of 10 to Search Press for keeping this available and also for resisting the temptation to put it in paperback and save a few pennies but ruin the usability.

First published 1991, reissued 2006

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