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David Bellamy's Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting [Hardcover]

David Bellamy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Mar 2009
With well over 300 step-by-step illustrations, masses of tips, instructions and finished paintings, this complete guide is just that - a truly inspirational guide to watercolour and a great reference book for any artist wanting to brush up their skills, or learn new ways of applying traditional techniques. A master of atmosphere and mood, David Bellamy includes some excellent demonstrations, featuring instructions on how to paint not just landscapes with mountains and crags, rivers, beaches and pastoral scenery, but many other disciplines.Features of this title include: the chapter on still life will provide a firm grounding in painting detail and developing your watercolour techniques in a controlled environment; the one on flowers ranges from indoor arrangements to painting in gardens and flowers and plants in the landscape; and, buildings, towns and harbours that are covered, with figures ranging from painting life models and the clothed figure, to including people in your landscapes and townscapes. Many of these areas of working are covered for the first time in a book by David. This book is a must-have for all aspiring artists. David is generous with his knowledge and more experienced artists will also gain a lot from his love and understanding of this versatile medium.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Search Press Ltd (4 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184448338X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844483389
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 30 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Many art books cover just one subject such as landscapes, or specialise further by showing you how to paint trees, or skies or buildings. This book concentrates on how to paint in watercolors - in a wide range of subjects. This approach is certainly more what I was after as a beginner, and also as an improver. I have never been into specialising too much, so Mr Bellamy is surely a man after my own heart! To start with, this is not a book that advocates buying a lot of superfluous items instead the author mentions that it is too easy these days to do just that. After this brief introduction and shopping list he then jumps in with both feet, showing how to lay a wash, mix paints, compose a good picture and even paint a simple scene. I like the way this gets you moving and actually painting without bogging the reader down with too much theory; painting is a practical subject. Thereafter the book splits into chapters, each dealing with a different area of painting. These include still life, florals, figure studies, landscapes and more are dealt with, not in great depth but with some sensible advice that is likely to be of use when deciding whether or not you fancy having a go. Each picture or sketch featured is described in some detail, and of course here too are some staged paintings to paint yourself. Add in to this advice about painting outside and on vacation as well as what not to do and you have a good, user-friendly primer on watercolor painting. This would make a grand present for anybody you know who wants to take it up or has done some and wants to branch There are some artists who get above the title billing and it's traditional by now that David Bellamy's books are not just by him, they are his own, no-one else's. I'm being unfairly flippant, because David is one of the most popular writers and teachers of painting around, a status he has deservedly held for many years. In the past, a lot of David's work has been on the athletic side and he's painted hanging off ropes from mountains and in the teeth of snow, ice and gales. This, of course, was all good knockabout stuff, but there was some excellent work underpinning it and a lot of the entertainment disguised solid and sound instruction; a lot of teachers forget that an entertained audience learns more readily. In recent times, however, a greater sense of tranquillity has entered David's work and he's as likely to paint the valley floors as he is the tops of the hills. It also means that there are more buildings and people and even, let if be said: flowers. So, what does this offer that we haven't already seen in David's previous books? Well, a change of publisher often brings a change of pace and the move from a landscape to an upright format give a more logical flow to the step-by-steps. There's also, as I hinted before, a much wider variety of subject matter and overall a slightly greater emphasis on the how-to-do-it than the how-I-did-it: more step-by-step and less analysis. Just flicking through the pages gives a sense of a cornucopia and makes you want to get down to the contents in more detail. This may sound like a superficial way of judging a book, but it's remarkably effective. If it doesn't grab your attention as the pages flick past, the chances are it doesn't have much to say. This one grabs hard and holds on. Overall, I come down to the view that this is a great deal more than just another one for the fans. David's many followers will buy it, of course, but this could (should) bring new converts, or maybe just provide a really rather quietly excellent introduction to watercolour for readers are aren't bothered by I've long been a fan of David Bellamy's landscapes and in his latest book he goes beyond this and delves into the world of still life, flowers and figure painting. The book is a superb reference book to help with practising many of the different skills and techniques used in watercolour painting. David begins by an overview of the many different materials available, recommending a basic palette of colours to begin. He shows us lots of simple basic techniques used for watercolours. I've been using watercolours for several years and yet found tips that I didn't know within this book. It can be very disappointing trying to complete a satisfactory painting without knowing some simple skills to do such things as laying a variegated wash. David covers just that, showing us how a simple wet wash of two colours can lead to a stunning sky, and then he adds a couple of houses and we can see just how by knowing the medium and techniques we can create beautiful paintings. There are demonstrations or simple illustrations to accompany each section so we can clearly see how things work. His Still Life section carries the excellent advice to paint or draw that which excites you, and he says that much of the studies in this area he does are preparatory works for inclusion into larger compositions. He uses the exercise of drawing and painting a simple box to also practice techniques covered earlier in the book. This is useful for seeing just how and which method to use in a painting. There are some clear illustrations showing such tips as how light affects shadows and whether to use a loose or tighter approach when painting. Each has its place and can result in very different paintings. This section ends with a pottery still life that uses some of the lessons covered earlier. In the flowers and plants section particular attention is applied to the importance of observation, of the plant shapes and colours, of such things as just how the leaf is attached to the stalk, and how when using them in a still life we need to lose unimportant detail in order to result with a fresh uncluttered painting. Of course a David Bellamy book would be incomplete without a section on the landscapes with which he is so well associated and this section ends with a lovely river landscape demonstration. He continues this theme with some tuition on buildings and perspective. I found the final section very interesting - he covers painting people from close up portraits to distant figures in a landscape. He gives advice on basic anatomical shapes and the importance of correct proportion. He covers hands and feet and how not to make these look fussy and artificial, and how to check the way garments hang from the clothed figure according to their position. He gives excellent advice about capturing sketches of people in action, carrying a small sketch pad so as to be able to render quick portraits as the opportunity arises. He also advocates carrying a camera to build up a reference of useful photos to accompany your sketches. This book is so full of useful information and tips useful to everyone from the beginner to the more accomplished artist. I love the little anecdotes that David accompanies his advice with, such as the lady in Ladakh who hated the sketch he had done of her so much she demanded double payment. It's incidents like this that bring to life this book and keep the reader hooked from start to finish. One will want to dip into it again and again not just for the excellent advice but to read these little sections that pepper the text and bring the book to David Bellamy is perhaps best known for his watercolour studies of wild landscapes, with mountains a favourite subject. In this new book he demonstrates that he is in fact far more versatile and can turn his hand to a wide range of other interests, including the human figure and still-life subjects. In his introduction, he describes how painting helps us to appreciate the world about us and so see more of its wonders. He then gets down to practicalities and offers sound advice on choosing materials and on watercolour techniques. There is a useful section on tone in which he stresses the importance of making the most of tonal contrasts. Colour, composition and texture are also dealt with helpfully and effectively. The rest of the book is devoted to handling a variety of subjects, including still life, flowers and plants, landscape features, buildings and people. There are also six step-by-step demonstrations and I particularly liked those in which he adopts a looser and more rugged style of painting. David's book will be welcomed by his many admirers, not least for the attractive paintings it contains. (Ray Campbell Smith)-The Leisure Painter This is David's most comprehensive look at watercolour to date as he becomes more varied and includes a wider choice of subject. The word 'complete' is very much appropriate here. The book acts as a course in all aspects of watercolour painting, so there are sections at the beginning covering the basics and simple scenes. David then looks at colour, tone and composition before moving on to still lifes, flowers and hedgerows and full landscapes. He also demonstrates buildings and people before a final section covering coastal scenes. Altogether, it's a considered and well-structured approach that should appeal to any watercolourist.-The Artist David Bellamy's Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting goes beyond the usual singular approach of watercolor guides that narrow the focus to one subject (landscape, still life or animals for example), offering a wider range of material to offer instruction in all these areas. From painting from sketches and photos and handling still lifes from a different perspective to developing linear perspective, this is a 'must' for any library catering to newcomers to watercolor

About the Author

David Bellamy was brought up and lives in Wales, so it is no wonder that he has always been fascinated by wild places.Highly regarded as a teacher of art, David has a tremendous following among leisure painters, many of whom have attended his extremely popular courses and workshops both in the UK and overseas. He gives demonstrations and talks, has produced five successful videos on watercolour painting and is a regular contributor to Leisure Painter magazine.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book 26 July 2009
By Tasha
The most comprehensive and helpful book on watercolour painting I have seen. The step-by-step demonstrations are easy to follow, and every page is packed full of hints and tips supported by beautiful, clear illustrations. This book is an inspiration for any artist and a valuable learning tool.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I had hoped for. 7 Jan 2010
By Marku
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I paint mainly in oils but have been dabbling in watercolours, self-taught.
I bought this book not quite knowing what to expect but was delighted with it. David Bellamy's examples are inspirational and the written word clear and concise. I have already learnt much from reading through this super book and am sure that following some of the examples will take my watercolours to another level. Highly recommended.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book ... But not for Beginners!! 6 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Its only fair to warn that this book is not suitable for beginners, and it cant be classed as 'A Complete Guide ..'

As I am a complete beginner to water colour painting, when I first bought this book I did find it very daunting.

I feel its suitable for an artist who is coming from another medium (oil or pastels etc)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars complete guide to watercolour painting 23 Aug 2010
By heather
His various examples of sunlight and skies and his method of wet on wet has helped me to create more realistic paintings. His step by step approach emphasizing certain things and fading others capturing the overall effect without too much over working.I have found this book extremely helpful and informative.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars complete guide to watercolour 13 July 2011
By terry K
Fast service excellent price I have the greatest of respect for david bellamy,s style of painting And am enjoying working through the various project contained in the text. Not for the absolute beginner ideal for the developing painter
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good 1 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought this for my wife as she goes to Art classes and uses the pictures to paint from, she says it is good for complete beginners, but she has picked up quite a few tips as well and is very happy with it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service 5 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nice clean book, excellent condition and would recommend it to any one starting up with water colour. Many good idears
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book 29 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David Bellamy is a wonderful watercolourist and I have many of his books. This one is exceptionally clear and helpful. I have found his tip of drying wet washes with a hair dryer quite invaluable. Super book - would recommend to anyone wanting to master this very difficult medium.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
some really useful 'stuff'' in this to both my wife and me!
Published 1 day ago by mr K Mellor
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting
A great little book covering mostly all aspects of water colour painting. I can' wait to go through it properly from start to finish.
Published 5 months ago by Mrs Hazel S Paul
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Although I am not a beginner at watercolour painting I did find it helpful, only wish there was more on flower painting.
Published 5 months ago by babble
5.0 out of 5 stars Good all round
Arrived quickly and the book was in excellent condition for an ex-library book. I would recommend your services to my friends.
Published 13 months ago by Grahem Mit
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
This is my third David Bellamy book I love all his books. Wonderful pictures to practice with. So very helpful.
Would recommend his books.
Very prompt delivery too.
Published 13 months ago by Jean Darmon
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
perfect for beginners, so many tips, I want to have a go at all of the projects. recommend this to anyone
Published 14 months ago by walkingsuecshell
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Guide for the beginner.
Explained everything that got me started. A good book to keep on hand and use as a reference time and again.
Published 14 months ago by Mrs Bee
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Covers all aspects of watercolour painting from basic colours and paints to buy to the different techniques available to the water colour painter. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast quick delivery
This book was exactly what I was looking for as a Christmas present for my mum. It arrived extremely promptly.
Would recommend - thnak you!
Published 19 months ago by Donald Mckenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book
The detail in this book is amazing and so clearly explained. I love it, It's the best watercolour book I have bought.
Published 19 months ago by Dodgy golfer
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