Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Vibrant Watercolours by Shirley Trevena and Albert Jackson - A Review

I would like to start this post with a big thank you to Shirley Trevena who has generously allowed me to quote from her book and include images.

This has to be one of my all time favourite books. I don't know how many times I have read  it from cover to cover but it is a lot! It's also a good one to dip in and out of whenever you need a quick jolt of inspiration to get you going.

I've long been a fan of Shirley Trevena's work and with this book it's like being transported into the studio with her. With chapters like 'Making the most of a single colour', 'Maximum impact' and 'Heartstoppers' her infectious enthusiasm for painting and colour spills out onto the page. A self confessed colour obsessive she says, ' ...when I spot a tube of cadmium orange I want it, if only for the pleasure of squeezing it on to the palette.' Haven't we all been seduced by tempting tubes of luscious pigments?

She says of turquoise, ' is one of my sit up and take notice colours. You can't ignore it and that is exactly what I have in mind.' I sense a fun-filled and mischievous side to the artist who encourages you to pick up a brush and play. If you thought that watercolour was just about boring 'wishy washy' subdued techniques I'm sure Shirley can convince you of the exciting colour opportunities that await after reading this book.

In The Pink
watercolour, oil pastel and graphite 45x39cm
© Shirley Trevena

It has only been whilst writing this review that I have realised there are actually five step-by-step demonstration paintings in it. This book is so well written and with such a wealth of information shared that I find myself being taught without realising it. There are lots of examples of her work with really good explanations of the techniques, colour choices and decisions made during the painting process. Shirley is very generous with her knowledge.

As well as being full to the brim with illustrations of her paintings there are also reproductions of work by fifteen other outstanding watercolourists including Ilana Richardson, Moira Huntley and Ronald Jesty.This is something about the Collins Artist Studio Series I really like.

There is a website here that accompanies the book with short extracts being read by Shirley and her main website is here where paintings, prints, books and DVDs can be purchased. I'd recommend taking a look, you are sure to come away feeling inspired.

Although I tend to focus more on acrylic than watercolours these days, I find that this book continues to inspire. It has been a great reminder of different ways of working that keep me from being stuck in a rut, and of course, the colour combinations are transferable to any medium that you use.

So now that I have shared one of my favourites, tell me what yours are. I need to start my winter reading list so that I am well prepared for those cold winter evenings. Which ones do you recommend?


vivien said...

I agree - both her books are really good and I love her work

Kelly M. said...

I totally agree with you, Lisa. Trevena's works are fluid, scintillating and her books are a delight to read over and over again. I've even looked at them upside-down for further inspiration and a more abstract perspective!

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Kelly, I've been dipping in to this book again the last couple of weeks. I'm sure it gets better each time. I'll try upside down next.... thank you visiting.

Becky Wygonik said...

Have you ever seen Karlyn Holman's watercolors? She has similar exciting and free abstracted florals, landscapes, still life, animals and many other subjects. Check out her newest book, Watercolor Without Boundaries or any of her DVDs and instructional books. I love the way they both take a simple subject and abstract them, add bold and wonderful colors and then try it all together with a composition that sings. Simply beautiful.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Becky, thank you for stopping by. I'm not familiar with this artist, off to look at her web site now. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Trevena's results go beyond what any watercolour can produce without
resorting to some mixed media. Her large washes for backgrounds of course...are from WC. Let us not feel inferior to the amazing
productions as it takes time regardless of how one pulls off the magical trick. 'Lots of studying with few interruptions plus huge sums of money for supplies and books. It is best to go slow and learn to paint for your family and friends and for one's own pleasure. Competitive shows are worthless if you go to one outside with tents and lots of sandles and no buyers. I was alerted to the
waste of time, years ago by a famous artist who put the show together for our summer festival. Thanking God I spent more time on painting for fun and for progress on my own after years of classes and frustration. I'm a happy and fulfulled painter in all media.