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Fundamentals of graphic design as applied to watercolor
on September 20, 2003
I wish publishers would stop calling their books "Complete Guides" to a subject. No guide to watercolor-or anything else-can possibly be complete. This raises unrealistic hopes that the reader will soon learn are unfounded. However, I love this book, and recommend it to serious students of painting, despite the unfortunate and rather bogus title.
A better, though more cumbersome title, might have been "Introducing the Fundamentals of Graphic Design as Applied to Watercolor Painting."
While this book does not offer every possible bit of information you will ever need to paint in watercolor, it can teach you how to design your paintings thoughtfully and well. The author understood the fundamentals of design, and explained them clearly and logically. Many of his own paintings are included as instructional examples. I found them very helpful, although the black and white reproductions are not always easy to "read".
Some people like to paint intuitively and emotionally with no conscious consideration of design. If this is your preference, and you have no wish to consider other approaches, this is not the book for you. This is also not the best book for someone looking for in-depth lessons in color theory. There is some discussion of the general working methods and materials of traditional watercolor painting, but that alone would not make me recommend the book. Much of this information can be found in the many introductory watercolor books on the market today. These often have great visual appeal, with lush color reproductions, and lots of sparkling white space. But looks can be deceiving. While this rather plain-looking book will not win a beauty contest, get to know it well and you will find that it has hidden charms.
What makes this book so valuable to me is its emphasis on drawing and composition as the foundation of painting. If you share the author's faith in this foundation, but have not been able to master these subjects through your own efforts, this book can be an excellent (though not complete) guide.