Saturday, 1 October 2011

Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting by David Bellamy

I like this book. It might be a bit of an exaggeration to call it a complete guide but it is pretty comprehensive in subject matter. The beginning of the book starts off with a brief overview of materials and basic technique. Although this is covered by just about every other art instruction book, Bellamy does a good job here especially for the beginner giving sound advice on the paper and brushes that should be bought first. Perhaps not much of a surprises to the more experienced watercolourist that he suggests starting with 425gram Not paper, and for brushes; a large squirrel mop, a number 4 and a number 7 or 8 round, a number 1 rigger and a 13mm flat, however, great information for the beginner who will be prevented from having drawers full of unused brushes (like me). The basic techniques are clearly explained and well illustrated with photographs. Two sections that I particularly liked were 'Understanding tone', and 'Using colour' where there was no attempt to confuse with colour theory, just clear, informative and again well illustrated demonstration of the material being discussed. I did feel that the section on 'Composition' was the weakest in the book and although there was nothing wrong here it could do with more explanatory text and more variety. To be fair, composition is covered later in the book embedded in other sections. After that we come to a series of topics; still life, flowers and plants, landscape, buildings, painting people and coastal scenery. This reflects the philosophy of the book of getting beginners to try subjects or disciplines that they would not normally attempt or be immediately attracted to. There are examples of each subject area together with a step-by-step guides leading to a finished watercolour. The guides include details of the paper used, the colours, brushes and any additional materials for example paper tissue or a tooth brush (to create a spattered effect). The finished watercolour paintings reproduced in the book may not be to everyone’s taste but they are, I think, an inspiration to those like me who paint for leisure and pleasure. It is not a huge book at 128 pages, but it is obvious from the quality of the instruction and the demonstration paintings why David Bellamy has such a large and dedicated following. I would certainly recommend that this book form part of any watercolour painter's library to be used and referred to later.

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