One of my goals for the new year was to get back to reading more books. I have found myself the past year being more self absorbed with reading on the computer, iPad, and checking Facebook which has taken away too much time I would normally spend reading books from my library, specifically my art books. How did I let that happen?
Starting with the new year I have been spending a little time in the morning and during breakfast reading my art books. Since I received the lovely book,More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte, by Martha R. Severens, for Christmas. I started there. After, I felt compelled to read again Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor by Mary Whyte. I have skimmed and read this one several times since it is chock full of so much good information.
I don’t know of anyone who paints in watercolor and is familiar with Mary Whyte who doesn’t admire her work. More Than a Likeness is a beautiful coffee table book that features many of Mary’s paintings from her early years, commissions, oils and many of the paintings one might be most familiar with from her “Working South” series and the paintings of life on St. Johns Island. This is not a technique book but a lovely narrative of how Mary became the artist she is today. It reads in chronological order from her early years as a student, how she started her art career, to how she was inspired to paint the Gullah women on St. Johns Island, South Carolina, to the years she spent traveling the United States to capture people that are working in dying industries in the South.
Written by Martha Severens, an art historian who served as the curator of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina, the book captures the essence of who Mary is as a person and how her experiences have influenced her work.
Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor, is a more of a technique book written by Mary. Even if you don’t paint figures or portraits, I highly recommend this book. What you would learn you could apply to anything you would paint in watercolor. The chapters are broken down to:
- Getting Started
- Materials & Tools
- Color & Light
- Life as an Artist
I have put this book on my recommend reading list for my workshop students. Her chapters on design and composition, value, edges, color and background are important aspects to the whole painting processthat many fail to consider when they start out painting regardless of the medium one would work with. Especially if you paint in watercolor, I feel you would find both of these wonderful books inspiring!