|© Search Press|
As the book is aimed at more experienced painters to challenge and stretch their working methods, rather than beginners, there is a very short discussion at the beginning about colours and materials that might be needed and some examples of techniques. It's almost as a reminder rather than one of those long and laborious explanations that take up vast portions of other books, which personally I find frustrating. The book is aimed at those using water based media although in many ways I think it is useful for all mediums.
Rather the majority of the book is used to explain the concepts of seven principles, (unity, contrast, dominance, repetition, variety, balance, and harmony) and seven elements, (line, tone, colour, texture, form, proportion and direction). Each is eloquently explained with lots of illustrations. As a list I would say it is a very useful guideline for analysing and improving your work. The onus of the book is to transform, '...reality by means of elimination and simplification' with reference to these elements and principles.
|© Kees van Aalst|
You are encouraged to, 'Paint what you feel, not what you see.' which is a far cry from the 'paint what you see not what you think you see' often chanted at art school. It's not a how to paint book as such but more a how to express what you feel, encouraging you to develop you own self expression in a fluid, gestural and impressionistic way. I see this book as an encouraging bridge between the realms of competent amateur and the first steps to becoming an artist.
As well as many examples by van Aalst to illustrate the points made he has also included works by other artists; Xavier Swolfs (one of my favourite watercolourists) Heleen Vriesendorp, Viktoria Prischedko and Cao Bei-An amongst others. I think this makes for an interesting mix of people who use this kind of approach in their painting. The collection of illustrations alone make this book stand out for me and I know it is one I will dip in and out of for inspiration for some time to come.
I'd like to end this post with a big thank you to Search Press especially Mary and Vanessa for allowing me to reproduce the images and a huge thank you to the author Kees Van Aalst for writing such an interesting, inspiring and exciting book.