Archive for category Series: The Innovative Artist

Abstracts and Mixed Media || Helen Kaminsky

With the popularity of abstract painting showing no sign of abating (there was a time when books on it were a drag on the market), there has for some time been space for a book that comes between the simple project-based approach and the more academic, analytical tomes.

And here we have a thoroughly practical book aimed at the serious artist who has mastered the basics and is ready to move on to more advanced techniques and interpretations. Rather than pitching straight into the dual aspects of the book’s title, Helen first deals with abstraction – colour, composition, design and interpretation, with each section having an accompanying demonstration that manages to be straightforward without being annoyingly elementary. This augurs well for the book’s balance between simplicity and taking its subject and its readers seriously.

The matter of media is now introduced, with textures, pastes, gels, watercolour, inks and acrylics all coming into the picture – or do I mean mix? This is where things start to get exciting and where the book absolutely justifies its inclusion in the Innovative Artist series. Work here takes the form of examples and shorter exercises because Helen’s aim is to get and help you to develop your own vision and voice. Where project-based books will have you completing the author’s idea of a painting, the intention here is to give you ideas to work off and to spark the imagination.

Helen deals with a broad and complex subject, but the book never feels intimidating or inaccessible, but rather draws you in, eager to find out more. An added bonus is that the binding is sewn rather than glued, which is unusual outside hardbacks. As a result, the book falls open easily in the hands and the pages are easy to view and read.

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Drawing Dramatic Landscapes || Robert Dutton

It is to be hoped that this new series from Search Press will be expanded in the not too distant future. The idea of featuring work by artists who explore and expand the horizons of their medium is an attractive one and there are enough around that it shouldn’t be necessary to stretch the criteria just for the sake of it.

Robert Dutton works mostly in graphite media – pencils, sticks, powder and liquid – but also charcoal, acrylics, inks and pastels. These latter for the most part provide accents and colour, but what he can do with straightforward monochrome will take your breath away. That’s what makes this such an exciting book.

Search Press are, of course, mainly publishers of instructional books rather than monographs, so there has to be a strong how-to element as well as the valuable featured work. They are well-practised, both in content and layout as well as selection of authors. It should come as no surprise therefore that this works as inspiration and creative encouragement just as well as straightforward technical lessons and demonstrations. The approach and style, however, make it less of a course and more of an exploratory tour in the company of an informed and competent guide. Robert has a teaching background and it shows – he is excellent at explaining what he has done, but why it was achieved that way.

Not everything in the book will be to everyone’s taste – you may prefer the sometimes dark graphite drawing, I may feel happier with coloured pencils and inked highlights. For all that, Robert’s explanations have a superb clarity and are always interesting – whatever your preferences, there’s nothing here you’d want to skip.

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