The Complete Watercolorist's Essential Notebook

It's challenging in watercolors to have one book which meets everybody's needs. If it's too basic, the advanced people get bored. If it's too advanced, the starting people get baffled and lost. I think Gordon MacKenzie did about as perfect a job as possible as meeting the needs of both groups of people. It helps new people get started, and it provides a wealth of information for those who have been doing this for years.

The Complete Watercolorist's Essential Notebook If you're new to watercoloring, a key here is not to try to dive in and do everything at once. Yes, the charts at the beginning about exactly what colors work in what situations might not make a lot of sense yet. That's OK. Read them, know that you'll use them later on, and keep going. He provides detailed instructions on well shape and building your own palette. If this is too complex for you, just buy a plastic one for now. The key is to know that this stuff is in the book later, when you need it.

The book provides a number of great practice tips with brushes, sponge, and other systems. You see how to fade out colors, how to work wet-in-wet, and other things. Then he goes into composition - how do you create a visually pleasing image? How do you generate movement in an image? The book talks about series of paintings, how to use colors or seasons to create a sequence. There's even a section about how to overcome common hurdles.

Then there's an entirely separate "book" presented - on landscapes. There's details about painting waves, ripples, foam, skies, rocks, and more.

It's fair to say that there aren't detailed, step-by-step instructions like in some beginner's books. You might get 3 or 4 stages for a painting to be complete, but all the specific steps aren't shown. So if you thrive best with a detailed, one tiny step at a time set of information, this book might not be what you want.

However, if you're more interested in getting guidance on how to lay out a scene, and are willing to play a bit to figure out the details, the book has a wealth of information.

Well recommended.

Buy the The Complete Watercolorist's Essential Notebook from Amazon.com

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