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Learn to Paint in Watercolour Step by Step


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Table of Contents

Introduction 6
Painting basics 8
Materials 10
Colour 18
Tone 28
Techniques 38
Choosing your subject 44
Drawing 56
Step-by-step projects 66
Farm Track 68
Barges on the Mud 78
Village Street 88
Magdalen College 98
Cannon 108
John 118
Index 128

About the Author

William Newton is a full-time professional artist. He paints many subjects and works in most media, although he specialises in watercolour and oil. He is a practising art tutor, with many years' experience of teaching both adults and children. His paintings are held in collections all over the world. William lives in Essex, United Kingdom.


May 2017

This welcome re-issue of William Newtons guide to watercolour painting in the classic mould reminds us just how good it always was. Gently progressive, de-rather than pre-scriptive and thorough as well as comprehensive, it's not an excellent introduction, but also a handy recap and an opportunity to re-evaluate your skills. At first sight, it's one of the least technical books you'll come across and that is, in great part, what gives it its welcoming feel. Although there are plenty of demonstrations, the first impression is lots of paintings rather than a welter of diagrams, lessons and exercises. I've praised many books that take this latter and more modern appraoch and there's no doubt about its effectiveness if well done. However, in the hands of a skilled pracitioner, the more narrative way of doing things has considerable appeal and can feel less technological. If you like the idea of slow television you're probably warming to this already. Don't hink that anything is left out though. William explains colour and tone as well as the essential techniques of watercolour; wet-in-wet, drybrush and so on. He also covers a wide range of subjects from landscapes to buildings, water and people. His muted colours are very much in the english tradition.

* SAA Paint *

Develop your watercolour painting skills. William paints traditional watercolours, carefully composed and realistic. There are 6 step-by-step projects and numerous examples of finished paintings to inspire you. Projects include architecture, landscapes, still life and portraiture. Sections include materials, colour, techniques, perspective and more. The colour reproduction looks a bit down, not as bright as it perhaps should be, but not enough to detract from using the book. This book was previously published as a Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting as recently as 2013. If you don't have that, it makes a superb guide to mastering watercolour with a variety of subjects to paint.

* yarnsandfabrics.co.uk *

If you want to learn to paint in watercolors and require a good basic primer this is a good choice. Concentrating on landscapes, seascapes and portraits you can build up your skills as you complete the exercises and finish with a starter gallery of six paintings.

This is the sort of book that Search Press does probably better than anybody else. Originally published back in 2013 as William Newton's Complete Guide To Watercolour Painting (ISBN 9781844488308) this is a new revised edition. The artist is self taught and wisely eschews the usual advice to buy too much; instead he has sensible suggestions as to what a beginner needs and the reasons why. His section on other materials does not feature anything expensive and contains many items you will already own. There is a section on color including mixing advice, mixing greens, working with a limited palette and another on tone including painting light, shadows and implying distance. Learn the tricks of the trade such as wet into wet, dry brush work, using masking fluid etc and essentials like using a camera, composition and perspective. The rest of the book contains the six projects which are helpfully step by step, building up the picture a bit at a time with the aid of many captioned photographs. Unlike some other painting primers this one has no traceable outlines but each project features a small tonal pencil sketch which you need to replicate the basic outline of. How straightforward this is depends on your drawing skills and I found it would be a good thing if it was larger, as seeing all the detail in it is not easy and the first stage showing the sketch on paper is very faint. Subjects include a lonely farm track, barges on the mud, a village street, an Oxford college, old cannon still life and a portrait. The portrait is sketched from a photograph so gives the budding artist some practice doing this. Each project has a few similar paintings as examples with short captions about their execution. If you want to try your hand at painting watercolors this is a good place to start, particularly due to the sensible advice on what to buy (and what not to).

* myshelf.com *

This isn't, as far as I can tell, a re-working, just a reissue with a new title of a book which first appeared in 2013 as William Newton's Complete Guide to Painting. To the credit of Search Press, I got that information from the copyright page.

I don't normally review reissues, but this is so good, and has stood the test of time so well, that I will at least give it a mention. It's a classic guide to classic watercolour and well worth a read.

Originally reviewed 17th October 2013

There's an immediate sense of variety in this admirably comprehensive book that really does live up to its claim to be complete. In something such as this, the introduction to materials and techniques clearly has a place and it's rightly more extensive than the cursory notes we could usually all probably do without. William is particularly good on the uses and handling of colour and tone as well as core techniques such as wet-in-wet. Although the beginner might feel the need for something more basic at this stage, as long as you've got the hang of how to use your materials, you'll find it easy to pick up from where this starts.

William has a simple, relaxed and open style that relies on transparent colours, the use of washes and a constant sense of light that makes for easy and comfortable viewing that is immediately encouraging. The range of subjects is wide and includes landscapes, buildings, boats and people, and there's also an extensive series of demonstrations that put the basic lessons of the introductory section into practice.

Because of its simplicity, the clarity of the instructions and the quality of the execution, I'd say this is the best work of its kind that I've seen.

* Artbookreview.net *

May 2017

Previously published as William Newton's Complete Guide to Watercolour Step by Step has been republished in paperback form. This book offers a complete guide to getting started in watercolour and developing your confidence with the medium, covering a broad range of subjects from still lifes to harbour scenes.

* The Leisure Painter *

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