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Watercolor Artist's Guide to Exceptional Color Paperback – December 1, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Paperback, December 1, 2007
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Editorial Reviews


This is a reissue of The Encyclopaedia of Colour for Watercolour Artists that first appeared in 2007. You have to hunt around a bit for that information, but we won't dock any points as they've been honest. Although it has UK origins, there's an American feel, the author is American and you can't help suspect it was originally conceived for that market. There's nothing wrong in that, but you might want to be aware that some of the colours are quite bright and the portraits, landscapes and buildings have a transatlantic air. All that said, it went down well on its original appearance and the book has a pleasantly straightforward approach to a slightly nebulous subject that the author manages to pin down rather successfully. The basic premise is to help you choose what colours are best for your style of painting from the hundreds (even thousands) available, selecting from single-pigments to pre-mixed hues as well as those which granulate, those which are most transparent and a selection of the opaques. All this is done by means of simple spreads with example paintings which are explained and deconstructed with an analysis of the colours that were used. The progression is subject-based, so this isn't one of those books that straitjackets you into choosing your colours before you start to paint, surely one of the most pointless exercises there is. The almost complete lack of step-by-step demonstrations will please many readers and the book has a pleasant feel of serendipity about it as you flick through the pages. It's something to have around you and dip into for ideas rather than something to read through as an instruction manual, and all the better for that.-Artbookreview.net When I started reading this I thought I could remember it from earlier - it was previously published as The Encyclopaedia of Colour for Watercolour Artists. Its worth republishing as its a super book and the new title more accurately reflects the content in my opinion. It's an amazing book that ought to be considered the watercolourists Bible. I have learned so much about colour, from how its made to how to use in conjunction with other colours for best effects. In fact the colour aspect is useful and interesting for all artists whatever medium they use. The properties of colours over long periods are important and Jan explains how paints made from inorganic or organic can affect this. I found the explanation of how to read the information on paint labels really helpful. If you are concerned about longevity of colours and works this is information that is indispensable. The colour wheel she shows is excellent showing where various named colours fit in the colour spectrum, useful when you wonder what sort of yellow is isoindolinone yellow... The book covers which colours are transparent non-staining or staining, sedimentary and opaque paints, granulating paints and how to use these to exploit the special effects they have. The latter half of the book covers different subjects and how to choose not just the correct colours to enhance your subject but how to select the type of colour and which techniques to use to show them at the best effect. I found the section covering New Developments really interesting as it covers metallic paints, something I personally find very exciting and was really interested in reading about how these paints were developed. This incredible book is really interesting for anyone who wants to know more then just the basics, have such a range of information you'll want to dip back in to it again and again. If you only want one reference book about colour this must be it.-JeannieZelos.com This inspiring book considers a wide variety of paints, pigments and approaches. Jan Hart investigates many of the hundreds of watercolour paints on the market, exploring their widely varying characteristics. This is more than just a paint-mixing manual, as it gives information and suggestions about using modern watercolours, such as transparency and opacity, glazing, underpainting and reduced palettes, including tertiary combinations and spilt complementaries. It considers many of the new formulations, such as lighter-bodied paints, organic and synthetic pigments and new materials, from plastic papers to iridescent colours. This in-depth reference guide will give any reader greater confidence in experimenting with different materials and colours.-The Artist Takes the artist on a journey through the potentially confusing subject of colour mixing. Jan has been a professional watercolour artist and teacher for 30 years, and is currently based in Costa Rica where she runs classes and painting holidays. Jan explains the properties of pigments, from single-pigment paints to special hue mixtures, creating an understanding of when and how to use a range of creative palettes. Paintings by the author describe how to mix appropriate colours with plenty of step-by-step demonstrations. There is also a gallery of subject-specific works by other artists, with descriptions of colours and techniques uses.-Leisure Painter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jan Hart has been a professional watercolour artist and teacher for over 25 years. Based in Espanola, New Mexico, she runs classes and artists' painting vacations at her home studio as well as organising workshops in Seattle, Arizone, and Costa Rica. The spectacular landscape, light, and colours of New Mexico provide an endless source of inspiration for Jan's watercolours. Jan has a Bachelors degree in Chemistry, which is one of the reasons she so loves pigments, and indeed why she became a watercolour artist. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781600580529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600580529
  • ASIN: 1600580521
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher M. Uehlein on March 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Jan Hart's book, The Watercolor Artist's Guide to Exceptional Color, is such an attractive and useful book. Beginners, as well as experienced painters, will be excited to have it in their hands. Ms. Hart gives much practical information for the beginning watercolorist as well as for those who have been painting for some time.

But like all instruction books, it has its good points and its not-so-good points. Its strong points far outweigh its weaker points. While I recommend it very enthusiastically,
I would not use the superlatives that other reviewers have used ~ calling it the "bible"of watercolor, or "fabulous", or saying there's no need to read anything else! Such extremes and generalities always make me a little suspicious. They do not help me at all. The kind of reviews that I do find helpful are those that tell me WHY the reviewer feels the way he or she does. A review is also helpful if it tells, even in a general way, what I can expect to find in a book. That's what I propose to do here.

After a brief, general introduction, there's a section explaining the composition of paints, what they are made of. The author gives a fine explanation of the technical data on watercolor labels. She groups colors in general categories of the primaries: reds, yellows, blues; the secondaries: oranges, greens, purples; and a stand-alone group, the magentas. The practical application of this material is shown in three close-up demonstration paintings. This is followed by a brief treatment of basic mixing, again with practical suggestions for exercises that will enable the reader to learn from his or her own experience. Then color theory is approached through examination of the color wheel.
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Format: Paperback
Jan Hart has written articles for Daniel Smith Paints, most on her "amazing mixes"--unusual blends of watercolor that give luminous results in mainly landscapes. If you enjoyed seeing her articles and work (which really glows with subtle and startling color) then this book has a lot more of her way of mixing paints.

Though landscape and botanicals seem to be her major love, the book also has animals, buildings, seascapes, skies and other subjects. She shows them in variations. There is no attempt to reproduce reality exactly--instead, Hart shows how to mix colors to get a result that dazzles the eye like fluttering leaves and bluish shadows on a bright, sunlit day.

There is a section at the end on Daniel Smith Primatek colors. These are natural pigments made of ground stones and earths. They are sometimes less colorful and bright than synthetic paints, but Hart shows how to use their unusual granulating properties along with more traditional watercolor pigments to gain some eyecatching mixes.

This book is a good tutorial for those who want to break away from the standard three to eight color palette and try for something different.
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Format: Paperback
Numerous color palettes shown; many excellent and various art examples by professional watercolorists in a wide variety of color schemes. Everything printed in full color. Terrific book for a beginner and yet extremely helpful for advanced watercolor artists. The book is divided up into sections, for example, "Light, Shade and Shadow","Wet In Wet","Backgrounds", "Clouds and Skies", "Portraits" "Flowers", "Paper" and "What's New". Also a lot of information on how to do certain techniques. I own at least 50 or so watercolor books and most of the ones about color have not measured up to this wonderful book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 0:55 Mins
This is a beautiful and useful book dedicated to understanding colours as used in watercolour.

It's split into three parts. Section 1 is on understanding pigment properties. Section 2 touches on the colour palettes and schemes. The last section looks at how you can use colours on different subject matters that range from landscapes to portrait drawings.

The text is informative and written in a way that's easy to understand. The pages are nicely laid out with beautiful examples from the author Jan Hart as well as other watercolour artists. You can get to check out different styles and the versatility of watercolour.

I like that the examples show the many possibilities of using colours, especially on putting colours on subjects that you don't normally associate them with. There are a couple of cool demonstrations on how different colour schemes can produce different moods even with the same subject.

There are many tutorials and little exercises scattered around, with lots of tips, ideas and techniques on the different ways you can experiment on your own.

This is an interesting and inspirational book. Even if you're not into watercolour, you might have second thoughts after reading this.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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The book is fabulous. I got an advance copy and I cannot put it down. It is packed cover to cover with wonderful bite-sized teaching, complete with color examples that make everything so clear. Not a dry reference book on pigments, it is a how-to for getting the color all watercolorists want.
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