Sunday, May 04, 2014

Book review: "Interpreting the Landscape in Watercolor” by Don Andrews

Like many beginner painter, I have a number of watercolour books that take us through a number of images to help us re-created the authors’ paintings. Unfortunately, most of these books do give us the basic tools to successfully fly on our own to create our unique paintings that others may someday admire.
I’m a huge fan of Don Andrew’s book “Interpreting the Landscape in Watercolor”. This book has concepts I wish I would have known about a couple of years ago. Some of my favourite concepts are:
  • Organizing nature: our first responsibility as aspiring artists is to organize nature. Don advocates that we “create order our of nature’s disorder”
  • Unity: this concept although simple – making individual elements in your painting belong together – is one that is not easy to put in practice for me.
  • Edge quality: although we all may know about using the three categories (hard, soft and lost), their role in paintings is not always well understood. Edge quality plays a huge role in linking elements in a painting.
  • Colour dominance: this chapter teaches us that when a colour temperature dominance is absolute, the painting will appear lethargic.
  • Painting negative space: Don walks us through negative spacing by painting down the value scale. This chapter is quite interesting as it walks us through painting through lines. 
The book also covers a number of other interesting topics such as: granulation, neutrals, relationship of color and value, etc..

In addition to being inspiring, the writing in this book is clear, clever and to the point. His ideas are well supported by many illustrations. Here is one example which is used to demonstrate the use of various edges to unify a painting:

This book provides the watercolorist with some essential tools to improve the quality of paintings. I will certainly be re-reading it a few times.

Tell me about your favorite watercolour book.

p.s. I would also recommend his video "How to loosen up"

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