Painter's Quick Reference - Birds and Butterflies

Some books are about the basics of holding a brush. Others are about art history. Painter's Quick Reference - Birds and Butterflies is unabashedly about one specific thing - how to paint a variety of birds and butterflies in a collection of styles. It does that task quite well.

Painter's Quick Reference - Birds and Butterflies There are 13 butterflies, 3 moth, 14 songbirds, 4 water birds, 3 exotic birds, and 6 other things (eggs, nests, feathers) covered here. Each item is shown in one specific style. So the sphinx moth is shown with watercolor instructions. The mallard duck is done with acrylics. Yes, a talented artist can "cross-think" and figure out how to do a watercolor by following the acrylics directions - but of course the result won't quite be the same. So know, up front, that "purists" will only have a few of the items that they can follow along with.

The details given are good. For example, take the Hummingbird done with Chinese watercolor. You learn exactly what colors to get, exactly what brushes, and even the detail of the paper. There are step by step drawings to show what the bird looks like at each stage. There are detailed descriptions and even commentary notes.

I like how they use a range of artists for the instructions. You get a collection of styles to work with. Once you figure out a technique you like, you can of course apply it to other projects.

The images are bright and clear and many are stunningly beautiful. The book can certainly act as an inspiration.

Are there any down sides? Well, again, if you're a purist, you'll probably only find a few items in your specific style. Let's say I like watercolors. I can do Giant Swallowtail 2, Giant Swallowtail 3, Heliconius Anderida, Morpho Butterfly, Peacock Butterfly, Painted Lady, Sphinx Moth, Goldfinch 1, Bluebird, Cardinal, Mockingbird, Painted Bunting, House Sparrow 1, Wren and Sunflower, Black-Capped Chickadee, Seagull, Emperor Penguin, and Red Macaw. That's 18 out of the 30 items shown. That doesn't leave many left for the colored pencil, oil, acrylics, etc. people to fight over. And if I was into watercolors but my dream was to paint something not listed there, I'd be out of luck.

Still, I think that's going to be true with any book. I'd also hope that someone who loved oils and wanted step by step instructions on doing a Red Macaw could take inspiration from the watercolor instructions and adjust.

Highly recommended.

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