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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Art Book Reviews

Vicky Murry's Mastering Color: The essentials of color illustrated with oils. (North Light, 2006) This book offers solid color theory applicable to all media. The book is beautifully illustrated with swatches and paintings by the author. The section on supplies and equipment is concise with a nice comparison of different ways oil-painting techniques--direct, indirect, plein air and alla prima. The basic palette is limited and very effective. There's a nice little section on color schemes, a subject often neglected in painting books. Murry explores individual colors and introduces a few design concepts, with a variety of helpful hints along the way.

A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition by Margot Schulzke (North Light, 2006)includes the work of twenty-six contemporary masters who describe their process of designing their artwork. This is a beautiful book with lots of demos and color illustrations, but I find it a little confusing. The design-and-composition objective tends to get lost in the plethora of different techniques. I enjoyed reading it, but probably won't include it in my personal art library.

I love Jean Uhl Spicer's book, Bright & Beautiful Flowers in Watercolor (North Light, 2004.) If I were a flower painter, this is how I would want to do it. Spicer's supplies and equipment section is concise and complete. Her basic palette of colors is fairly limited and well balanced. The chapter on color covers the basics in such a way that I think beginners can grasp the concepts quickly. The chapter on composition isn't quite as accessible, but the remainder of the book, which includes various transparent watercolor techniques, tips and demonstrations, is very good. Way to go, Jean.

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