This book will appeal to all sorts of different people for different reasons. For the practicing artist, the book offers a range of practical exercises that are easy to follow but rigorous in their scope. It takes different aspects of painting that are easy to take for granted and provides you with thoughts, visual examples and exercises that encourage you to look again, reinvent the familiar and approach your work in a new way. That's all good you think, but what makes this book stand out from other practical art books? In two words: Emily Ball. It's the author's voice that makes this book so refreshing. Rather than a rather dry manual, the book describes the experiences of being an artist with humour, warmth and a real depth of understanding about what it's really like to draw and paint. It captures those moments of elation and utter despair with a perceptiveness that is honest and comforting. It's also great that the book includes contributions from several other artists, as this gives a richness and variety to the narration.
But it's not just practicing artists that will love this book - anyone with an appreciation for contemporary art should get a copy. It's an easy to read book with a clear structure to it, which makes it easy to dip in and out of or to work methodically through. And what's more, it's a beautiful coffee table book, containing loads of large images of paintings and drawings as well as photographs that document the process of making art - they make you feel like you're an artist even if you're just sitting with your feet up drooling over the pages! I've left my copy lying around the living room and have enjoyed watching a number of my friends get sucked into the book, regardless of whether they are arty types or not. So if you're reading this review because you're not sure whether to get this book, let me reassure you that you should as it will reward you on many levels. Enjoy!