Colour and tone 12
Painting flowers 58
The flowers 82
Wildflower Meadow 84
'Snowy Owl' Iris 114
Moving on 126
Wendy Tait was born in Derby and attended the Joseph Wright
School of Art. As her four children grew up she began exhibiting
both locally in the Midlands and further afield, always supported
by her husband Harry.
For many years, Wendy gave demonstrations and taught classes to art clubs and societies. Although she no longer teaches, she remains as busy as ever, enjoying writing and illustrating books and painting in several different media. Wendy has won various awards for her work, and has painted a set of stamps for the Government of Jersey depicting the four seasons.
There title of this rather lovely book tells you all you need to know. It's watercolour flowers painted in Wendy's unique, impressionistic, not-over-bothered-with-detail way. As she says in her introduction, "When painting flowers, I do not make measurements, do a preliminary drawing, or trace the design out before I begin. Instead, I prefer to go straight into painting." If you're not familiar with Wendy's work, this may provide a clue. This isn't about painting individual specimens, for the most part. It's not about botanical illustration, or even the less formal flower portraits, it's about painting what flowers look like. Wendy tends to work with large arrangements, sprays and beds and with a varied colour range. Even when she does paint a single subject, it always has a context and the result is much more the English Still Life than the French Nature Morte. By concentrating on colours and shapes, and allowing the viewer to fill in the small details for themselves by suggesting with shade and hue, she provides a sense of movement and the play of light that makes her subjects dance off the page. Please don't get the idea that this is in any way a sloppy book, though. Wendy is an experienced teacher and there's a wealth of painting wisdom here about the use of colours, brushwork, techniques and washed. There are also plenty of flower types, offering different shapes, sizes and colours. It's all so enjoyable and inspiring that I had to concentrate quite hard to realise just how much instruction there actually it.* SAA *
If the statement 'When painting flowers, I do not make measurements' fills you with joy, read on. This is not a book about botanical illustration, obsessive accuracy or individual species or examples but rather about how flowers look and feel. In some of the paintings, there's even a deliberate lack of definition that blurs the background into a whirl of colours, For all that, though, there's a lot of information here about composition, colours, shapes and techniques. These are not always flowers in a landscape though they are always flowers in a composition. This is a book from an artist well known for her style and approach and contains a great deal of technical and creative advice.* Artist, The *
Wendy Tait is known for her beautifully loose painting of flowers in watercolour. In her latest publication she shows us how to do it. Unlike most botanical painters, Wendy likes to go straight into the painting using her brush as the drawing tool. This allows the watercolour to speak for itself, without the restriction of hard edges. An introduction to the tools of the trade, colour and tone, and an explanation of the various techniques you will be using, is followed by guidance on tackling some of the more difficult shapes you'll face - mixing that all important shade of green or white flowers and negative spaces, for example. Chapters follow on composition and backgrounds, before Wendy moves on to specific plant portraits and groups. For each, there is detailed information on making tonal sketches or working from photographs, plus choosing colours and tones. A further three in-depth step by step projects are included, featuring a wildflower meadow, wisteria and an iris. The book is beautifully photographed and laid out allowing Wendy's paintings to take centre stage.* Leisure Painter, The *
Well, can you guess what it is yet? If ever a book relied on your liking the author, this is it. Wendy does, of course, have an excellent reputation and track record in this area, so it's probably a safe bet. At the very least, you're going to open it and have a look.
So, what do you get? Well, a pretty thorough guide to flower painting, mainly at the impressionistic end of the scale - this isn't botanical illustration, and you may heave a sigh of relief at that. Wendy's flowers are not specimens, are usually in groups, sometimes mixed and often in context - if not a garden, then at least with some kind of setting. Section heads, picked at random from the demonstrations, include Developing The Foreground, Creating Supporting Areas and Balancing The Image and there's barely anything on (say) details of petals. If this is your sort of flower painting, stop reading and buy the book now.
The subtitle is Fresh, effective and imaginative techniques and I wouldn't disagree with that summary. It's a comprehensive guide and full of ideas, techniques and inspiration.* Artbookreview.net *
Wendy Tait has had several books published by Search Press showing how to paint flowers in her own unique way. Here is a compendium of floral subjects for watercolour artists to paint.
This is not a book for total beginners who have never picked up a brush before, but for anybody who is reasonably au fait with the basics and wants to have a go at painting flowers in an unconventional way. Running through the book is Ms Tait's own method of using imagination and omitting a drawing, but painting straight away to avoid hard edges. At the beginning you can find the usual discussion of what you need to buy, a basic palette for flower painters, some useful tips on working with washes, wet-in-wet etc. There is a section of painting using tones of only one colour, mixing greens and getting started on flower shapes. You won't find lots of step-by-step projects to work through; there are three to work through but the instructions are much looser and less exact than in most Search Press books. Ms Tait's method of working is so different to what habitual users of these books might term "the norm" that the usual staged method would not suit. Instead it is best to lose your inhibitions and get stuck in. Apart from these three projects you can find out about using other types of paint, composing a picture, working from photographs and much more. The finished work is lovely and you are permitted to sell your work for charity if you wish, a lovely touch that you can find in most Search Press books. A good book for somebody who is tired of following the rules!* Myshelf.com *