Archive for category Subject: Boats & Harbours

Painting Sunlight & Shadow with Pastels || Maggie Price

There I was, saying pastel books are a bit thin on the ground and here’s another one! And one that goes deeper than the usual general technical manual as well.

That this is an American publication is only apparent in some of the faces and maybe some of the colour choices – continental light is brighter than the more muted colours we’re used to in Britain. However, the principles are sound and the author has a lot to say which she communicates well. The step-by-step demonstrations are relatively short, but are balanced by good accompanying text and nice large illustrations that allow you to see what’s really going on. There’s a good range of subjects which are mostly landscapes but also include figures, water and boats. Each section is devoted to a particular way of handling light – painting reflected light, making the shadow your subject – so that there’s never any doubt about what you’re doing. The final chapter, The End is Only the Beginning, includes work by several other artists, serving to increase the scope and authority of the book as a whole.

As an instruction manual, this can’t be faulted and, as an extension of the literature on pastel painting, it’s invaluable.

Buy it on Amazon

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Ray Balkwill’s Exe Estuary

Ray Balkwill is at home in pretty much any painting medium, but is perhaps best known among fellow artists for his mixed media work. Living in Devon, a great deal of his painting is done in the south of the county and this book has all the hallmarks of having had a decent amount of material to choose from: there’s nothing included that gives any sense of being a make-weight or, indeed, of the transparency being “good enough”; the reproduction is spot-on.

As you’d expect, a lot of boats, harbours and waterside scenes feature here, but Ray isn’t afraid to make a few trips inland for some landscapes and buildings as well.

The book will be required reading for any fan of Ray’s work, but will also appeal to anyone who has any contact with the area as well.

First published 2004, reissued 2006

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Painting Boats & Harbours || Anthony Flemming

Of all the subjects that attract the painter, for no particularly obvious reason, boats & harbours have always been the poor relation when it comes to publishing. Apart from the odd slim paperback, very little has been written about this varied and rewarding subject which also presents a whole range of opportunities and challenges.

Anthony Flemming has lead a full life that has encompassed painting, sailing and odd bouts of motor racing into the bargain and all of this experience filters through into his debut work in print. An artist of great skill and sensitivity, he’s at home in both watercolours and oils and confident and competent with landscapes, seascapes, boats, buildings and people – all, in fact, of the elements that present themselves where the water meets the land.

This isn’t a book in the simple how-to mould. There are no step-by-step demonstrations, although there are diagrams, detail sketches and some quite intricate drawings where they are required. The text is more discursive than instructional as well; that is to say, it’s more about the practice and the experience of painting than it is about the minutiae of applying colour to paper or canvas. For all that, there’s a wealth of information imparted and a sense of being led by example – you just want to get down to it and see if you can’t manage something even half as good as Anthony.

Production quality is up to Black’s usual exacting standard, although one or two of the many illustrations do betray their origin in older, possibly 35mm, transparencies that aren’t perhaps as sharp as more modern equivalents. For all that, nothing is so unclear as to be worthless and many publishers will include much worse as a matter of course. It’s as much as anything else a mark of how much colour reproduction has improved even in the last 10 or 20 years and maybe I’m being picky even mentioning it.

Overall, there’s nothing here that won’t excite the artist or satisfy the lover of boats and the enduring sense is of being led gently through an engrossing and rewarding subject by a true lover of all things maritime and an amateur in the best sense of the word.

First published 2006

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