The Big Book of Watercolor Painting
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This is a wonderful reference book for the watercolor painter. It contains all kinds of useful information to help you understand the medium and improve your knowledge and skills.
The first 40 pages provide a great history of watercolor painting, so often overlooked in the overall scheme of art history. Then all the aspects of setting up a work area and studio are covered followed by a very thorough materials and tools section. There are example pictures and descriptions of everything from easels to paper and brushes to paint. There is also a paper stretching demo and a watercolor color chart.
A section on the principles of drawing follows. This includes instructions on making simple shapes, creating perspective, Plato's rule, golden sections, drawing a quick sketch and more. Then various watercolor techniques such as creating washes, erasing with a dry brush and achieving texture with salt and turpentine are covered. Next, there are two chapters on color theory and mixing explaining warm, cool and broken colors as well as color schemes and values. A nice demo of painting a watercolor with three colors is included.
The last chapters deal with techniques, skills and actually beginning the painting process. Here you find information and advice on painting the human figure, skies, clouds, trees, landscapes, illustrations and seascapes. There are no real projects here and no reference photos. Rather the focus is on general advice for painting various subjects with example demonstrations. A helpful glossary is included in the back. This is certainly one of the most thorough, useful and entertaining books I have seen for the beginning watercolorist.