Watercolor Painting Step-By-Step

Watercolor Painting Step-By-Step by Arthur L. Guptill is a primarily black-and-white book written in 1956. How does this book hold up as a reference in modern times?

Watercolor Painting Step-By-Step One might think that it's the technology that has changed in nearly sixty years. Surprisingly, much of what he writes is just the way it's always been. Watercolors are a classic activity and masterpieces were created centuries ago. We still use easels and brushes. We still create washes and use sponges to dab away at areas. If anything, it's lovely to see just how timeless this art form is.

The real issue is with printing technology. In 1956 when this book was published, black and white books were pretty much the standard. So this is a small format hardcover book with black and white images. There are only a few brief pages at the very back that are color, and those are small and hard to see. The rest are just shades of grey.

As you might imagine, when Guptill is talking about hue and saturation, or how colors go together, or showing a color wheel, they lose most of their impact when you're just looking at shades of grey. Guptill talks about colors and we can't see them. He shows how colors relate and we can't see them. So much of watercoloring is about color, and having a book unable to show color misses out. Especially when so many other books on the market now tackle this issue brilliantly.

One can only imagine that Guptill himself was quite frustrated by the situation. Imagine being an author, trying to educate your audience about colors, and being unable to show a color!

So interesting to have for a historical read, but I wouldn't use this to learn how to paint in watercolors. There are just too many wonderful alternatives on the market that do this in full color with lots of large-format examples.

I took this book out from the library to read.

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