Archive for category Series: Tips & Tricks

Watercolour Tips & Techniques || Arnold Lowrey, Wendy Jelbert, Geoff Kersey, Barry Herniman

This substantial tome packs an enormous amount of information into its 376 pages and covers basic techniques, sketching, perspective and mood & atmosphere. As such, it’s a sound course which will admirably suit those who are at an early stage in learning to paint and provides pretty much all the information they will need in order to progress. It also takes a lot of the head-scratching out of deciding which books to buy and an investment of twenty quid here is not only a solid one, but should also save money in the long run.

If you’re already a committed book buyer, though, have a careful look at the contents because this is not new material, but rather a bind-up of 4 titles which have already appeared in the similarly-named Search Press series. If you’ve already got some of these, be careful you aren’t duplicating. At twenty pounds for four books that, separately, would cost you ten pounds each, though, you can’t fault it for value.

Quite a lot of though has gone into the selection of material and the ordering of it, beginning with Arnold Lowrey’s excellent beginner’s guide (Starting to Paint) that covers all of the basics and goes on to look at techniques for capturing a variety of subjects including landscapes, seascapes, buildings and figures. Wendy Jelbert then covers the use of a sketchbook to make notes for later studio work, Geoff Kersey looks at the tricky subject of perspective and makes it easy to understand. Finally, Barry Herniman handles mood and atmosphere and shows you how to interpret your subject and use colour and brushwork to portray it in two dimensions.

If you want an introduction to painting, either for yourself or as a gift, you won’t go far wrong with this.

Search Press 2007

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Successful And Creative Washes || Barry Herniman

Given its central place as a watercolour technique, it’s surprising how few books are devoted to the watercolour wash. The transparent nature of the medium allows thinned colours to be laid down as a foundation to a more detailed scene, as a glaze on the top of one or simply to suggest a background colour, particularly a sky. Or maybe it’s because of this: if you can’t lay a wash, maybe you really haven’t got to grips with the medium. Whichever it is, most books just start by saying “begin with a wash” and leave it at that.

So Barry’s book is all the more welcome for that. If this is the most basic watercolour technique, then this had better be the first book you buy. If you think there’s always more you can learn, then you’ll find plenty to please you here. If you know it all already, well, you won’t be bothering, probably with this or any other instructional book.

I have to confess to certain reservations about Barry Herniman’s skills as an artist: to me some of his finished paintings look far too flat and this is far from an admirable quality in a medium that demands a sureness and lightness of touch. If this bothers you too, then it’s going to get in the way of how you get on with this book, which is a pity, because Barry is particularly sure-footed when it comes to explaining the processes involved; how the painting is built up. Indeed, at the half-way stage, his works have all the qualities you’d expect – it’s only towards the end that they seem to get off course. I’m not absolutely sure, but I think he simply overdoes the amount of paint; watercolour is a transparent medium and you simply can’t build up too many layers without it becoming opaque.

Oh dear. I seem to be getting side-tracked by the paintings rather than reviewing the book, but first impressions are important and it would be wrong not to share my initial reaction. So, if you can’t trust the results, the book’s a no-no, right? Well, no because, as I said, Barry is very good at explaining the processes (it’s a truism that the best practitioners often make the worst teachers). In only 96 pages, he covers washes in skies, landscapes, foregrounds, backgrounds, water and much more and does so in a series of detailed step-by-step demonstrations that really do make what can be quite a complex process very easy to follow.

And now to the big question: should you buy it? If you want to learn more about watercolour washes, unequivocally yes. Not just because it’s about the only book there is, but because it’s so well explained. And maybe I’m wrong about the results: you’re the reader, you decide!

Search Press 2007

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