Step by Step Art School Watercolor - Patricia MonahanStep by Step Art School Watercolor by Patricia Monahan is a large format, 156 page, full color tome which guides you along every step of learning how to watercolor. Where other books assume you know the basics or gloss over details, this one delves into each area with great, clear examples.
You start with the basics - what colors are all about, what designing an image is like, and then it goes step by step through all the equipment you'll need. Sometimes the examples are a bit confusing - for example, she says that paper starts at the low end from 90 pound and goes up from there, but there are 70 pound papers found in most stores. In most cases, though, the examples and information are great. You get visuals of what different paints look like, what the papers look like, and so on.
The book then goes into the starting steps. Where other books might launch you immediately into painting pictures, and have you baffled about what you're doing, this book nicely takes it in tiny steps. You learn how to do washes. You learn how to work wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry. The book talks about layering paints, diluting paints, and how all these things impact your final result.
By the time you get to actually working on paintings you have a good understanding of how the basics work, which is great! And even then, Monahan takes it slow. She starts you with a painting with just one color and simple techniques. Then she builds on that. More colors. Different types of brush strokes. She moves into masking and sponges and other types of painting. She provides in depth examples where each step is explained. You've got a range of example paintings to work through - landscapes, still lifes, people, and more.
She encourages you to be OK with mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning. She encourages you to let your own painting be in your own voice. I like that gentle, warm feeling.
If there's any complaint at all about the book, it's that it just "ends". You finish the last example and POOF the book is done. I'd love some sort of a summary or "what to try next" or something. It feels a bit abrupt. But that's a minor complaint about an excellent book.
I borrow this book from my local library.
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