I just recently finished reading through a fabulous book on watercolor painting by Tony Couch, called Watercolor, You Can Do It! It was a very informative book with very accessible information and tips that I can’t wait to incorporate in my works.
I have several of these books at home, and found that not all instructional watercolor books are made the same. In fact, out of the seven or so books that I do have, I really find myself using only one or two regularly.
There are so many different resources out there, but I can appreciate the old-school print variety of information gathering as well. I am not too young to remember going to the library and borrowing towers of books over my summer vacations, exploring their contents and the wonderful adventures they held. With these fond memories in mind, I checked my library for books first, naturally. However, as it is undergoing renovation, and the closest library with a sparse number of books related to the subject, I nixed that idea.
To be honest, I didn’t want to invest a lot in the books either, because these are often read once and then set on a shelf somewhere. I checked some local and second-hand book stores for some good deals, but they just didn’t have the stock I was interested in. Who knew that watercolor books would be so hard to find (in my anticipated price range)? I did look through some in the Blick store on my way home, but they were running close to $20 each, and I could not help but think to myself how much paint that would be.
Instead, I settled on my trusty source, the eBay. Sure, you have to be careful what you are buying, but I have a lot of experience with this site and gave it a try. I ended up buying 7 books for about $23. It seems like a lot, but I didn’t have the intention to go crazy with it, rather, I was fortunate to get a nice lot of 5 books for $14, so that is why the number seems high, even to me. However, there is a lot of material, and each book gives a few good tips or points. Some are better than others, and thus spend more time open on my desk so I can read a bit every time I feel the urge.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. All of the books are in great condition. The only trade-off is that the books have all been in limited circulation because their average year of publication seems to be around 1987. However, they are really in a condition that is like new, and come complete with their dust jackets – and I don’t think that there have been many innovations or inventions in watercolor that are so revolutionary that the whole game is changed. So, I found that these books are just fine for my needs.
If you are interested, here are the actual books that I have now amassed:
- Watercolor, You Can Do It!, by Tony Couch
- The Art of Watercolor, by Ray Campbell Smith
- Watercolor School, by Hazel Harrison
- Watercolor, by John Pike
- Herb Olsen’s Guide to Watercolor Landscape, by Herb Olsen
- The Watercolor Painting Book, by Wendon Blake
- Watercolor Painting Techniques, edited by David Lewis
I am still in the process of going through them, and some are definitely more useful for a beginner like me than are others. For instance, the Couch and Smith ones are quite good. The Blake book has some very good exercises for improving paintings for the beginner, and each is nice enough to frame.
However, I highly recommend these books because they are relatively inexpensive, a lot of them can be found for about a dollar, and you just pay shipping. Great photos and tips are included in each. You are exposed to many different styles and examples of the techniques.
After you start doing your own research, you can start to pick apart the things that seem to be in common among all the seasoned painters and those things that each individual does and is willing to share in his or her book that is part of their style. All of this reading really only enhances your own knowledge of the subject and changes the perspective on the various ways to even approach a prospective work.
I know that I greatly enjoy reading them, even if they are not to my liking, because it helps me to discover what my own style is to be, gradually. It is unfortunate for me that I picked a really good one to take with me over this Memorial Day weekend, and that I have finished reading it between the travel time and the following morning. My mistake is that I only brought one. However, I brought a pad of paper and my portable palette with a few brushes, so I will have the benefit of trying out some of the techniques later this afternoon.
Go out there, pick up a book, add a guide to your cart to get that free shipping. Most of these are in the price range of add-on items, and the beauty of the internet has created a network of people who provide some thoughtful reviews of the items. However, they are a veritable goldmine which, at their low price-points, give you great bang for the buck.
I want to wish everyone a great Memorial Day weekend and to do what you love with the people that surround you.
Just keep in mind that with all things in life, you have to start at SquareOne, but you are never Square-Done!