DK Watercolor by Michael Clarke

Watercolor by Michael Clarke is not a how-to book. It doesn't explain how one selects colors or holds the brush in order to do a watercolor painting. Instead, it explains the history of watercolor painting, from the very first cave drawings. It presents gorgeous, full color photos to inspire and intrigue. DK Watercolor by Michael Clarke

I greatly enjoyed the wealth of examples the book provides. There are landscapes and still lifes, soft pastels and powerful, dark pieces. There are detailed architectural drawings and free-flowing sea scenes. The book demonstrates just how many different types of creations one can make with watercolors. It also covers a range of cultures, to show how different parts of the world approached watercolors.

I enjoyed reading how in medieval times manuscripts were often decorated with watercolors made with glair (egg white), pigment, and water. The artists would paint on vellum, which was animal skin. "Herbals", which explained the medicinal uses of various herbs and plants, were quite popular. Later down the centuries watercolors would thrive as miniature portraits on ivory.

I appreciated that the book showed photos of the actual watercolor kits of various artists. You could see just what type of equipment people used in different eras, to get a sense of what their efforts must have been like.

The book is large format, with large letters and lots of images per page, but only 63 pages long. It can easily be read through in an afternoon, and then referred to for ideas in later days and weeks. With it only being 63 pages, I was a bit disappointed that some of the information seems to repeat. A section on the 1700s-1800s talks about how it was fashionable for young adults to study watercolor as a mark of fine breeding, and how their tutors were often accomplished watercolor painters in their own rights. A few pages later we get to the pages on the 1800s-1900s. In that time period - surprise - it was fashionable for young adults to study watercolor as a mark of fine breeding. And their tutors, go figure, were often accomplished watercolor painters in their own rights. I didn't think we needed to hear that same set of descriptions twice. I'm sure there were some other features of the time periods that could be highlighted.

Still, a minor complaint in a book which is full of fascinating information. I enjoyed reading through this immensely, and I learned a lot about the wealth of styles available to the watercolor enthusiast.

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