Customer, July 06When I retired I decided I would like to learn to paint flowers in watercolour so approximately three years ago this is what I did. I had never painted a thing in my life since 'dropping' art at the age of 14 to do my GCEs. At my school art was not a subject to be encouraged - we were steered towards subjects such as maths, physics and chemistry etc. (even Latin - yuk!). I was never good at art b ut I always enjoyed my classes. Anyway becoming a lady of leisure I decided to have a go. Where to start I asked myself. We have an Art Class in the village where I live and at least someone was able to point me in the right direction. However, no one seemed interested in my style of painting. I read books and practiced and some progress was made but there were many questions I wanted answering and there was no one to ask. Then Lo and Behold I ordered your CD and wonderful book 'Watercolour Flower Portraits'. Eureka! At last I have found just what I was looking for. Your demonstrations are straightforward, your instructions clear, your style wonderful. I am really inspired and once I have finished this email I shall go into the garden, select a flower, draw it (not very well but I will try my best) and paint following your techniques. Thank you so much. Your book has been an answer to my prayers. Incidentally, should you ever decide to run a distance learning course put my name at the top of your list. I just thought you would like to know how much your CD and book is appreciated. I am sure SAA from whom I purchased the book will receive numerous comments such as mine. Good Garden Books, Jul 06A botanical art book with a difference, that not only makes you want to achieve the finished product, but also inspires you with step-by-step instructions to think that you might even be able to achieve a decent picture. Who am I kidding? I'll never paint as prettily as Billy Showell, but I can sigh over her illustrations, and have fun following her guidelines. At the very least, I might learn to appreciate plants better. Packed with information on drawing and painting techniques, colour mixing and composition, the book is an invaluable source of ideas and inspiration. www.myshelf.com, Jul 06What a beautiful book, and a beautiful subject too. Sitting at a table near an open window with the scent of the garden blowing in painting flowers is something I enjoy myself; now here is a useful primer on it to aid me in my work. It can adorn my coffee table too, and even those guests with no painterly leanings can enjoy its lush and wonderful artwork - with a hard cover, too!You don't need much to have a ball with this book. The author recommends buying the best quality paints, but I think it depends on what you want to do with the finished paintings. Mine are preliminary stages between nature and a piece of wearable art or a set of memory album decorations so think about this part carefully. Get to grips with the drawing stage first, look at how flowers are constructed (briefly) and then do some mixing. It is useful to see a palette of what colors to buy as there are so many and if you are painting flowers you need a rather different palette than -for example - a portraitist. There are several flower studies with tips on how the colors used were mixed which I found to be very useful, and the same for leaves. I think this was my favorite part as mixing is something of a bugbear with me, and I think that this is a great way to handle the subject rather than in the abstract. Here too are different painting techniques to try such as wet-into-wet, using masking fluid, dry brushing etc and what sort of effect they give. Other highlights include a short section on painting white flowers, looking at how to paint different parts of a flower and composing a picture. The in-depth staged studies are just the type of thing for any artist to work through to really get under the skin of a painting, and remind me of how I learned to paint. I've seen a lot of art books but for sheer conciseness, practicality and down-to-earth good sense this one gets a high score. One for my keeper shelf.Index, Aug 06A Tunbridge Wells artist has just launched her first book locally, already sure of its success. Billy Showell's Watercolour Flower Portraits has achieved great acclaim in America, having been chosen as the lead title by the largest art book club.As well as showing and selling her own paintings, Billy teaches art in her Tunbridge Wells studio, so writing a book on the subject was a natural extension of her talents. Well-known art suppliers Winsor & Newton, and Raphael, have eagerly lent their support and there is even a teaching DVD by Billy. Watercolour Flower Portraits is a work of art in itself - you don't need to be a budding artist to appreciate the beautiful illustrations, but those who are keen to learn or improve their skills will find the layout and instructions clear and simple. www.artbookreview.net, Aug 06There's a hierarchy in flower painting. At the top, there's botanical illustration which, in its more rarefied form, is used as the definitive plant identification guide. This is also often diluted for the more general painter who wants to be able to paint accurate and realistic flowers, but without the obsessive attention to detail and the almost agonised selection of example that goes with the professional style.At the other end of the spectrum is general flower painting, where the intention is to produce an impression of flowers, often in a group and as an element of a larger picture. What this comes down to, as often as not, is painting gardens. However, it's always been difficult to sell books with this as their title because readers tend to say, A"I don't paint gardens, I paint flowersA". Well, yes, up to a point, Lord Copper. Book titles are a funny thing: most of the time they don't really matter, and sometimes they matter like hell. The person who works out what matters when will make a fortune!Firmly in the middle, between these two opposites, is the flower portrait. It's not a definition you'll find in any dictionary, scholarly tomes haven't been devoted to its place in history and yet it's quite a precise way of describing a certain approach. You'll know one when you see one. The answer, I think, is that it's a representation of an individual flower that tells you about the flower and appears to live on the page. Oh, heck, come on, let's not be shy: it's a portrait of a flower. I worked for hours on that. No, seriously. There are pictures of people that sum them up absolutely without getting bogged down in detail and there are portraits: detailed depictions ... you know the rest.Well, that's what this book is. What you have here are flowers without visible means of support, by with I mean that they don't have roots or pots or vases, only stems and heads. They aren't in an arrangement on a sideboard, the backgrounds are plain, the subject is an individual plant and nothing else. Rather sensibly, many of the illustrations show the whole picture, the paper as well as the flower itself, emphasising the fact that these are pictures of flowers in a very specific way - what you see on the page is the complete painting, not just the subject. I'm losing you, aren't I? Sorry, but read the book and you'll see immediately what I mean. The best way to sum up the approach is to say that that this is very much a book about painting, not a book about flowers.To this end, as well as lots and lots of pictures of flowers and plants, there's also a wealth of information about how to paint them. But, let's be clear, this is not an introduction to flower painting, it's far more than that. In fact, it's one of the first books I've seen, especially on this subject, that assumes quite a bit of previous experience. However, if you're serious about painting flowers, then Billy Showell has a huge amount to tell you. She talks about general painting methods and techniques, painting specific flower elements - petals, leaves and so on - and also how to handle various types of flowers, as well as some very detailed step-by-step demonstrations of specific examples.Although there is a structure to the book, it's not one you're going to work through like a course. Probably the best approach would be to familiarise yourself with the layout, get the hang of what Billy has to say, and then start to tackle the sections that most interest you. I think that would work. There's a lot to absorb and you get a lot for your money, too.The Leisure Painter, Dec 06Trained as a fashion designer at the prestigious St Martins School of Art, Billy Showell changed track to focus on painting and illustration, which she admits had always been the main attraction of her course. It was a good move and her first book, Watercolour Flower Portraits, shows just how exceptional her talent is. It provides a beautifully clear exposition of her approach to drawing and painting, whilst showcasing many examples of her work.Billy starts by explaining materials and showing readers how to approach the drawing of plants and colour mixing. She brings these together to explore painting techniques including painting wet in wet, adding texture with a dry brush, glazing and lifting out, either with a brush or scratching out with a scalpel.Although Billy teaches botanical drawing, this book doesn't focus on its rigorous style. Here, for example, Billy often adds shadows to her drawings to give depth, something that doesn't feature in traditional botanical illustration. This gives the book a wider audience and allows for a more individual approach to the subject.White flowers often pose a challenge to beginners, but Billy really enjoys working with them. She shares her techniques for rendering them, before moving on to look at close details. Sections are provided on painting flower, leaf and stem details, using texture, glazes, and analysing structural design. Useful tips are also offered on which sections of plants are likely to wilt most quickly, and therefore need to be tackled first.It can be quite difficult, when painting an individual flower, to know how to present it on the paper. Billy inclu...Reseña del editor:
Billy Showell's exquisite and technically brilliant watercolour flower portraits are beautifully presented in this highly informative, lavishly illustrated book. Packed with information on drawing and painting techniques, colour mixing and composition, it is an invaluable source of ideas and inspiration for anyone who wants to develop their flower painting skills, whether or not they have any previous experience.
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