Archive for category Series: Quick & Clever

Quick & Clever Watercolours || Charles Evans

Charles Evans has developed a reputation as one of the best exponents of the “how it’s done” approach to art instruction currently around and he disposes of many of the technical problems that plague the beginner with confidence and aplomb.

The meat of this not insubstantial book (192 pages) is a series of 24 exercises and projects that cover landscapes, water & sky, buildings and people & animals – in short, most of the things you might want to paint. The exercises are simple one-subject sketches that show you, for example, how tree shapes work, while the projects work up a detailed step-by-step demonstration of a more complete subject. Each leads on to the other, so that practice with trees is followed with a project of a landscape consisting of fields and woodlands. Each project opens with the finished work so that you’re presented with your final goal before you start looking at the detail and this is good.

The demonstrations themselves are illustrated in some detail and the book’s designers have attempted to break up the regimented grid layout this can lead to with cascades and overlays of the illustrations. This does mean that you have to look at each page quite hard to work out where it’s going this time, but that’s not a bad thing either as it means you don’t just turn over and find yourself missing some of the stages.

All in all, you can’t fault either the approach or the execution and this is a book that will teach anyone just getting to grips with watercolour a lot.

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Quick & Clever Drawing || Michael Sanders

I think you have to admit that the Quick & Clever series title is a bit of a hostage to fortune – I mean, sooner or later surely they’re going to come up with something that’s neither, and then what’ll we do for eggs, hmm?

I also think we have to admit that some of the results here are sometimes a little bit flat, a little bit two-dimensional. However, that’s more than made up for by the fact that Michael offers not only a rather good grounding in basic techniques (and other books wholly devoted to that subject have frequently missed the point entirely), but also some, well, it has to be said, clever ideas for working quickly, most of which work very well. You’d have to be pretty picky to cavil, but then that’s my job: I do it so you don’t have to. Poor me.

The thing about drawing is that it’s a very basic skill and one which it’s very hard to learn from scratch. Sure, if you have a modicum of ability you can practice and you can also learn a huge variety of techniques, but if you haven’t got the sort of eye that can translate a three dimensional subject into just height and width and only use tone and shading to suggest depth, you’re in trouble. What you get here are some neat, well-executed and well-presented ideas that will give you quite reasonable results very quickly, boosting your confidence and persuading you that maybe you can do it. After all, there’s nothing more calculated to discourage the beginner that to spend hours fiddling about with a drawing, watching it get away from them before their very eyes and then finishing up like, well, like something even the dog wouldn’t recognise as dinner.

This is one of those books where you can feel that author, editor and designer have worked together as a team, so congratulations to all of them on a job well done.


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