Painting Portraits in Acrylics by Hashim Akib, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215813, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Like most painters, I find painting portraits challenging. I found this book very interesting because for me it has a new approach. Treating the face like blocks. Akib tells us to beware of realism. This book enables you to master the essentials and capture the atmosphere, the character. It’s worth looking at no matter what your skill, for the treatment is quite different. Plenty of examples, male, female, young, old. Follow the 6 varied step-by-step projects. Faces, features and even full length portraits are covered. I particularly like the unusual expressions pages and the way they were presented. One thing of note, I found I liked the older style and not his new way of using very thick paint, but that is just personal preference and it is good to experiment and try different styles and ways of using paint. Also close-ups are not how the paintings will appear when viewed on a wall. I cannot believe it is 7 years since his last book, what a lot he has achieved.
Jean Haines Paint Yourself Positive, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782216537, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com
With its glorious mix of pink and yellow watercolour paint dispersing in water, the cover is most enticing. However, there are so many similar pages in the book of just a splash of paint, that I felt a little disappointed. Jean is a wonderful painter but she has perhaps taken ‘loose’ a little too far in this book. The paintings that are there, like Starfish, or A Special Bridge, Roar and All That Glitters are truly wonderful. The simple building technique is very good. So why so many splashes instead of paintings? Yes, painting brings positivity into our lives. Yes, believing in yourself is good. Yes splodges of paint look good and you can call them by wonderful names such as ‘Positive Energy’ but does this make a good painting book? I would prefer to have seen more paintings than the author’s thoughts on positivity. More painting content would have been better.
Painting Expressive Landscapes by Carole Robson, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215530, price 14.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A hallmark of this work is semi-abstract landscapes in watercolour and mixed media. The latter is water-soluble media and collage. The book is well illustrated with wonderful paintings, which should offer much inspiration. Flowing media are used to capture the essence of the natural landscape. You’ll find information on paint consistency; the usual watercolour techniques such as wet-in-wet and washes; pigments and their properties; colour and tools. There is also a section on ‘expressive techniques’. The author states these are not new and began with Turner, but mention should also be made of Ann Blockley, who has made many of these techniques her own. I love Carole’s paintings of her local landscape, although her work is very reminiscent of Ann’s to a point. Yet there is much here that is Carole, and for that I am glad. She is an experimenter and is pushing the boundaries. I like the abstracts and the use of digital art too. There are three step-by-step projects: Woodland with Silver Birch; Wayside Verge and Beach At Sunset, which explore the techniques. Fabulous images and easy to use.
ISBN 9781782216261, hardback price 15.99, available from www.searchpres.com
This hardback book is a combination of watercolour flower painting instruction and pre-dawn sheets of artist quality paper. I am a fan of Julie’s beautiful watercolour renditions of flowers. The 6 projects include different techniques and you will use wet-on-dry and wet-in-wet, painting fine lines, gradated washes, glazing and stippling, mixing on the paper, lifting out, negative painting, highlights and shadows, textures with salt and more. The flowers included are Tulips, Hibiscus, Day Lily and Rudbeckia, Clematis, Sweet Pea and Rose. Find out how to use the book, set up for painting, materials, techniques, colour and mixing as well as how to frame your work. Each project has detailed instructions with step-by-step images. In an easy to see box, you’ll see at a glance the colours and the size of brush used. Excellent clear photos are used throughout. Recommended for the beginner finding it difficult to get to grips with drawing.
Book review Five Minute Watercolour by Samantha Nielsen, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782217046, price 8.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A tempting cover with the glorious qualities of watercolour for all to see and a mastery of the ever-difficult green. This book offers learners ‘Super-quick Techniques For Amazing Paintings’ claims the cover. Its small size belies the fact that this book contains 55 exercises to enhance your familiarity with watercolour. Practice is the key states the artist in her introduction and that is true of everything. As painters we tend to want to create a masterpiece straight away. Often with watercolour, we quickly become discouraged. It does not behave how we want it to. Will this book help? It begins with tools – you’ll find suggestions for choosing the right tools. The next chapter is about techniques. This is all about washes, blending colour, lifting colour, glazing, edges, blooms and brushwork. The book moves on to applying those techniques. I liked the pages on skies best in this section, especially the image of Pamela Harmois’ Beach Walkers, which is very inspiring. This section includes the essence of the book in that it gives five-minute chosen themes for skies, rocks, trees, water and waves, landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, floral. These are a little lacking in instruction and are just images with a short introductory text. There are more ideas for quick ways to paint night scenes, the four seasons, people. The final section is Take it Further, which gives suggestions for improving on your new-found skills. If you wish to make watercolour part of your everyday activities, this book might well show you the way. Yet I feel it is only old techniques dressed up as something different. You might be inspired by the numerous sketches, but they are hardly finished artworks. Interesting and worth a read. Any artist will improve if he paints daily, given he understands the techniques and how to apply them.
Complete Guide to Watercolour by David Webb, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215738, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com
From beginners up this book, one of an excellent series, provides all the techniques and essential skills you need to begin to understand watercolour and paint your first paintings. There is no doubt that watercolour takes skill and understanding and that how it works is key to being able to use it. Understand the medium, learn how to mix, apply and more. This great watercolour primer will help you achieve success. Washes, resists, colour charts, design and perspective, texture, step-by-step demonstrations and fabulous finished art. The only thing it does not include is a loose style.