Painting Wildlife Textures: Step by Step
by Rod Lawrence
pub. North Light Books
New in Paperback 2001
143 pages, £14.99
ISBN 1 58180 177 7
UK Distribution by David & Charles
Remember those times when you have marvelled at pictures of wild animals which almost look as if they are photographs, or appear so real that you feel you could reach out and touch the animal ? Well prize-winning Rod Lawrence's book will be appreciated by any artist - aspiring or actual - who wants to learn more about creating the texture effects which bring such paintings to life.
Lawrence is an American wildlife painter living in the wilds of Michigan, and this book is a paperback version of 50 mini-demonstrations by the artist. The emphasis is very much on 'texture'. You will not find any information contained within on how to draw animals or on composition, and there are only some short personal thoughts on preferences for painting materials, methodology and style. As the author says in his Introduction: 'This book is intended to be a helpful aid to wildlife artists.''
Lawrence's painting 'style' is detailed and representational, and although he may use watercolour, oil or gouache for his work, acrylic paint is the medium of choice. As for writing style, the author speaks with an easy-going authority and combines this with some excellent illustrations which show how the textures are developed step by step. It is quite an eye-opener.
The book's contents are split into eight subject areas: Fur, Feathers, Scales, Eyes and Ears, Bills and Muzzles, Tails and Feet, Antlers and Horns, and White and Black subjects. Some of the animals 'demonstrated' may be unfamiliar to British artists - the Bald Eagle, Snow Leopard, Coyote, Wolf and Moose for example - but others will be familiar: Mallard Duck, Canada Goose, Trout and Red Fox. To a large degree the actual species depicted are not so important as the core techniques that Lawrence describes and which allows artists to represent fur, feathers and fish scales with paint.
At around fifteen pounds for a paperback the price might sound a little steep, but then you should look at your investment in this book as a way of shortening your learning curve in the potentially complicated subject of wildlife painting, and reducing costly mistakes in paper, canvas, paint and time. Certainly it is a lot cheaper than attending a painting course.