Natural Watecolours: Painting from Nature Made Easy
by Richard Taylor
pub. David & Charles
New in Paperback 2001
128 pages, £12.99
ISBN 0 7153 1168 9
Taylor's book aims to teach aspiring watercolourists how to capture the vitality and atmosphere of the natural world and objects around them, and includes copious step-by-step examples - everything from plants and woodland scenes to stonework, water, sky and clouds, lobsters and some simple marine scenes - and then combines these with examples of wet-into-wet, dry brush, and texture techniques.
Split into four chapters the author states that his teaching methodology is to provide a 'thorough understanding of your subjects, materials and processes' and begins with an evaluation of Materials and Techniques in Chapter One. His advice comes across in a very friendly, personal way. For example: 'The brushes I use are synthetic. They are a more affordable alternative to the traditional sable...' and 'I prefer to use a ringbound, hardbacked A2 size sketchpad because the paper is large enough to allow me to make some strong, expressive lines and washes yet it is easily transportable.' A teaching style which informs through experience rather than preaches.
One useful item Taylor includes is a colour wheel that identfies the colours which the watercolourist is likely to use - sap green, cadmium yellow, cobalt blue, and so on. A nice touch which should certainly assist the novice painter greatly.
The three other chapters in the book deal with specific subject areas - Nature Indoors, Moving Out of Doors, and Natural Landscapes. Taking his demonstration for 'Autumn Fruits' shows the author's approach and layout... The painted example depicts a study of pomegranates and pumpkins and identifies the colour palate used, highlights specific technical and creative points in the picture, and exudes the knowledge of an artist with years of experience. He advises: 'It is always advisable to consider different views and angles of individual objects in the hope of finding a better viewpoint.' Many a newcomer to painting may simply accept the position of the objects in front of them through ignorance.
The whole book is full of wonderful examples which the would-be painter can explore. For example, in the 'Natural Landscapes' chapter Taylor takes the opportunity to demonstrate the advantages of using tinted paper for the vast expanses of sea and sky.
The author concludes his book with small section of 'Final Thoughts' and encourages beginners to join local art groups where they can find like-minded people.
Beautifully illustrated with watercolouring examples - sometimes bold, other times delicate and feathery - and with his friendly, approachable writing style, Richard Taylor's book is well worth looking at.