|Sketching at Bryce Canyon (photo by Frank Koyama)|
Finally – a watercolor book for the rest of us!
Despite the seemingly hundreds of books found on watercolor technique,
very few even mention, let alone focus on, using watercolor as a sketching
medium on location. Sure, there are plenty of books about plein air painting, but even those emphasize trying to duplicate
the studio setup – a proper easel, stretching and mounting paper ahead of time,
etc. – to produce a finished painting (the kind you frame and hang on a wall,
hopefully in a gallery).
As an urban sketcher, I’ve been frustrated by these books.
Of course, good technique is good technique, and I still learn about using
watercolors from them. But what about watercolor sketches – the kind that are
never meant to leave the sketchbook and instead have the sole purpose of visually
documenting a few minutes of my day? Books on that use of watercolors are few
and far between.
Happily, Sketching, by Alwyn Crawshaw, part of the Harper Collins 30 Minute Art series, is one
of those books. Using nothing more than a pencil and a simple setup of
watercolor paints, the author gives numerous examples of sketches – brief, fresh
images mostly made on location in less than 30 minutes each (many in as few as
10). Every lesson emphasizes distilling and simplifying a scene, avoiding picky
details and capturing the essence of what you see. He gives tips on how to
sketch moving objects, animals and people, and even how to sketch when you,
yourself, are in a moving vehicle.
Actual watercolor technique is covered perfunctorily in a
few pages, so if you really want to improve your watercolor painting skills,
pick up one of those hundreds of other books instead.
f I have any complaints, it’s the one that other Amazon.com
reviews have mentioned: The book’s format is so small (6” x 7 ¾”) that some of the
sketch reproductions are tiny. On the other hand, in almost all cases, the
originals are no larger than 8 ½” x 11”, and fast sketches are, by definition,
small, so perhaps the format is meant to mimic the size of work that most
sketchers are making.