- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Watson-Guptill (December 11, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780823006731
- ISBN-13: 978-0823006731
- ASIN: 0823006735
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.9 x 11.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 125 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Watercolor Painting: A Comprehensive Approach to Mastering the Medium Hardcover – December 11, 2012
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About the Author
Tom Hoffmann is a practicing artist and teacher who has been dedicated to the watercolor medium for more than thirty years. He received his BFA from Amherst College and an MA in Art Education from the University of London. His paintings have been exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum, the Frye Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, the Copley Society of Boston, and the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. He currently teaches three levels of watercolor classes at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Washington.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"Having observed the progress of many watercolor students over the years, I can make a few informed generalizations about the limits we put on our own range. Most common of all is the tendency to stop short of the deep, rich, darks the image may require, This is why it is especially important to ask late in the painting process: Are the darks dark enough?
Of course, certain technnical concerns can affect how dark the paint can be, but these can usually be solved with a piece of practice paper and a spirit of inquiry. The trickiest issues seem to have more to do with psychology than technique. For example, all watercolor paint dries lighter than it appears when it is wet. This is always true. You knew it the first week you started painting, right? There comes a point after which it is just plain silly to use this as a reason for not getting dark enough darks. You've got practice paper. Do the work, and make sure. You are the one who is in charge of your paintings."
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However, I went ahead and bought it. And don't you know--once I dug in, I was compelled to read it cover to cover. Hoffman distills the craft of making good watercolor paintings to its fine essence, with concepts that are easy to wrap your brain around and easy to imagine applying in your own work. Every page offers some important little insight or key pointer that is presented in a way that I've not seen in other books--often delivered with some gently acerbic humor which I enjoyed. As I progressed through the book, Hoffman's paintings grew on me a bit because they were so illustrative of the concepts he covers. Of course, there is work by artists other than Hoffman, and I appreciated that because it helps to see works in different styles which all demonstrate a particular concept effectively but in different ways. It is a thinking book though...if you are looking for simple formulas for how to paint a good picture, you won't find them here. This book asks questions, explores possible answers, and expects you to consider its questions yourself to find your own answers. It doesn't lead you by the hand but it does provide an excellent framework for an approach to producing well planned and well thought out watercolors. The language and examples are simple, supported by narrative that cuts right to the chase with a minimum of fuss.
I think this is a must-have book for every serious watercolorist who wants to improve their work through careful consideration of what they are doing with each brushstroke. It has earned a place as a top ten favorite in my extensive library of watercolor instruction books and has already informed my painting process.
Hoffmann's wry humor and personal tone, never preachy, make this book very approachable. He writes from his own learning and in no way implies that he is better than anyone else - only that he has a lot of experience in both painting and teaching. For example, he includes examples of his own unsuccessful watercolors (one is even titled "Flop") in order to point out how he can succumb to the same problems as anyone else. He guides the reader along in a journey of learning, never assuming that it is easy and always assuming that the one holding the brush is ultimately making the decisions about their painting. This is no "how to" book with all the answers. It is more like a book of questions: what are the important decisions that painters might make to help them through the painting process?
The emphasis is that one should know the answers to some of these questions BEFORE the brush touches the paper. Hoffmann walks the reader through the process of making preliminary sketches and repeated testing. These exercises allow the artist to work through the issues in a meaningful way. In making deliberate choices, there is less risk of overworking and more probability of success and reward in making confident strokes that give way for the medium to assert itself naturally and beautifully.
The final chapter is an appropriate summary to the whole book on becoming your own teacher, offering a suggested list of questions one can use to remember key points through all stages of painting. Deserving as this is as a final chapter, it is written through the entire book that we are the experts on our own success, not he nor any other teacher.
Oh - and the images chosen are an excellent selection of Hoffmann's work and that of other watercolor artists from all over the world.
I commend Watson-Guptill Publishing for taking on this publication, and I thank Mr. Hoffmann for sharing his knowledge. My gut feeling is this book will become a classic. So it should be on your bookshelf, used until it is worn out, and purchased again.
Past President Montana Watercolor Society