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Making Color Sing Paperback – April 1, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeanne Dobie, a teacher and painter whose work is shown widely and often wins coveted awards, lives in Pennsylvania.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill; New edition edition (April 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823029921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823029921
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.3 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2004
The talented Jeanne Dobie does a lot of her work in the sun-drenched Florida Keys. While there are many good books on color and pigment, Dobie explains how light in a painting scene shifts moment by moment and how you have to be ready to capture that brilliant moment with the right palette.
The book gives advice on which colors to put in a limited palette for brilliance. (As anyone who has done watercolor even for a short time knows, there are hundreds of colors available, but when you MIX them, sometimes you get a flat, dull result that looks like mud on the paper.) Choosing a limited and CORRECT palette for the painting you are going to do is one of the most critical steps after creating the composition. Dobie includes important facts about which paints stain the paper (and cannot be lifted up again), which are transparent and can be used as a wash or glaze, and which paints are opaque. And if you follow the "purist" rule of no white paint, you learn how to leave the whites (use the paper for brilliant whites) and no black paint (which causes a visual hole in the paper.) Instead, Dobie shows the student painter how dark colors like brown or a visual black can be mixed that still look luminous and interesting on the paper. This is a very difficult technique to master--shadow detail can make or break a painting.
I disagree with one of her points, however, on mixing greens. While it is true that green pigments direct from the tube are far more brilliant and transparent than any you can mix, I find certain mixed greens from yellows and blues to be subtle for shadowed foliage, and sometimes the pure paint greens are jarring and unnatural to me. I tried to follow this "use unmixed" greens rule, and I end up mixing mine anyway, though I own many shades of green paints.
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Jeanne Dobie's book was recommended in the watercolor class I took and at first when I looked at the pictures I was not interested as I do not care for Dobie's style as illustrated in the book and would never buy the book based on her work. However, after borrowing the teacher's copy I began reading the text and found the information valuable and useful after trying the suggested exercises. Dobie's book along with Tom Hill's The Watercolorist's Complete Guide to Color combine as excellent references for learing to use color pigments and making colors "sing" instead of making mud.
I am giving Dobie's book 1 instead of 5 stars as it seriously needs updating considering some of the pigments Dobie uses are not lightfast and the inclusion of more modern pigments that replace these non-lightfast pigments would be useful all considering the book was first published in 1986, which is 18 years ago. The lightfast references I am going by are Hilary Page and Michael Wilcox's books analyizing watercolor pigments.
Aside from Dobie's use of some outdated pigments (see handprint.com) the book is an excellent reference and her advice as to color mixing valuable.
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I am a learning watercolor artist and I read many books on the subject. This is one of a handful that I find to be particularly informative. While most art instruction books tell you what to do and how to do it, Jeanne Dobie patiently explains why. In other words, she tells you what is behind the magic.
For example, she says that you cannot get a good green by mixing any yellow and any blue, because, a yellow such as cadmium yellow contains some red and a blue such as ultramarine also contains some red, and the presence of red in green (the hoped-for color), which are complements on the color wheel, yields gray. Thus the resulting green is very muted. Explanations such as this are invaluable to me, because the underlying reasons she gives completely convinces me that she is right and the knowledge is extensible to other color combinations.
There are many such gems of knowledge in this book. Jeanne Dobie teaches you how to create not just contrast, but a "singing" combination of colors, and how to mix your own blacks and your own whites to achieve much more nuanced presentations. And there is much more.
Admittedly, some artists do not feel bound by these "rules" of color and can still produce very good art. Charles Reid comes to mind. For the rest of us, the wisdoms Jeanne Dobie shares in this book are an important part of an artist's knowledge base.
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What are all these 5 star reviewers thinking??? Aureolin and rose madder--Dobie's recommended yellow and red primaries, are extremely fugitive--they fade in a short time.
Because of this alone, the book should be vigorously rejected as coming from dubious authority. Her plan for making colors "sing," by the way, involves placing an occassional bright color in a field of grays or browns, mixed not from earth pigments, but from (fugitive) primaries. It would be irresponsible of me to perpetrate such a book on an unsuspecting public by giving it any stars at all. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't have a "zero" stars option. If you want a superior book that will show you much better ways to make colors "sing," get "Perfect Color Choices for the Artist," by Michael Wilcox.
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