Breaking the Rules of Watercolour
Batsford • £16.99 (£18.99 non-members) • STBRB • 128 pages • Hardback
OK, it’s early, but if this isn’t the book of the year, there’ll be some headgear to be eaten! Watercolour is supposed to be a demure medium; its soft brushes and liquid handling means it can’t roll up its sleeves and get its hands dirty. Can it? Oh yes it can, and Shirley will show you how you can use colour and shapes to make your subjects jump out of the frame. Let’s be clear from the outset that this isn’t a book of instruction - there isn’t a demonstration in sight. Rather, Shirley analyses ten of her own paintings in some depth, showing you how she approached the subjects and how she uses colours and negative shapes to create images that, while by no means abstract, absolutely stretch the boundaries of representation.
It’s challenging, and chapter headings like ‘Keeping my options open’, ‘Going for green’ and ‘Breaking the rules of perspective’ will give you an idea of the ride you’re in for. However, I think we’re ready for this - it’s not as if this is Shirley’s first book, after all. What she’s done here, though, is to have the courage of her convictions and to set out her stall as something you too can follow. It helps, of course, that she writes as well as she paints, a rare skill and one we should treasure.
Also available is an accompanying DVD to bring Shirley's paintings to life in your own home. To purchase Breaking the Rules of Watercolour book and DVD set, click here
This book was reviewed by Henry Malt