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Watercolor Tricks & Techniques Hardcover – 14 Apr 1988

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 158 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books (14 April 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891342214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891342212
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 1.8 x 28.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,372,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Spiral-bound
This is the first review I have ever written on amazon, but I had to write it because I love this book. I admit I'm a fan of Cathy Johnson (though this is only the second book of hers that I've purchased). Her writing style is friendly, accessible, and encouraging. Her painting style is lively with just the right blend of detail and freedom. The images are large enough to see the materials and techniques she talks about, and she shows specific samples of each technique as well as full step by step demonstrations using them in larger paintings.

For the content alone the book is excellent, but it stands out because of its format. It is spiral bound on the long edge but the pages are in landscape format. You can stand it up like an easel, and keep it in front of you as you try the techniques. The book takes up less space and is more visible than if you had to lay it flat on a table while you are working. It took a little getting used to at the beginning, but because of this format, I have actually tried more of the techniques in this book than any other art instruction book I've read, and I'm only a little over halfway through it. All art instruction books should be in this format!

This is probably not a book for the absolute beginner. It is helpful to know the basics of how to create a wash, mix colours, etc. It's a great book for the slightly more experienced beginner, or the intermediate or advanced artist who is looking to spice up their paintings with some new techniques. If you're in a bit of a rut this might just spark your creativity and get you going again!
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By Parka HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 8 April 2011
Format: Spiral-bound
Length: 0:56 Mins
This book has an interesting design. It's spiral-bound with a cover that can be attached together to make the book stand - like a spiral-bound calendar. I guess you can read this book while you're watercolour painting at the same time.

Most of the tricks and techniques are one page descriptions on how you can use various materials with watercolour. A lot of unusual and unexpected materials are featured. Some examples include using alcohol, soap, liquid mask, salt, plastic wrap, crayon and other tools like erasers, sponges, wax, etc. The book's goal is probably to encourage experimentation of all these different mediums.

However, not all the new mediums featured come with actual application on a painting. Some of the examples are just quick splashes to show the possibilities and effects you can achieve.

The techniques-side of the book is not much. There are way more tricks and too few short demonstrations. It does talk about the usual techniques like glazing, wet-on-wet, etc, but again, it's missing the process between the tool and the finished work. And the examples don't look particularly inspiring, which is surprising because Cathy Johnson is a artist with lots of beautiful paintings.

There are interesting ideas and tricks in the book, but if you're looking for more techniques, you should look for dedicated watercolour instructional art books.
(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great book. an art teacher of mine received it from a student, as she found it in a charity shop. this book is a top book. it should be the base to all watercoloring learning. very experimental and lots of techniques in this book.
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Format: Spiral-bound
Far too many unecessry tricks and gimmicksand not enough content on actual painting and painting tips.Difficult to handle the actual "book" due to its pop up shape. However still very interesting.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 71 reviews
86 of 93 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but limited 30 Sept. 2010
By Porgy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound
I notice that most of the 5 star raves for this book are from people who have written only one review - the one for this book. Friends of the author? In any event I overcame my doubts and got the book. But was disappointed. The book is a collection of mostly one page descriptions of various materials that can be used in combination with watercolours for various effects - aluminum, turpentine, gesso, etc. Excellent descriptions and somewhat useful and nice to have in one place. However the demos and step by step were few, and the quality of the exampled work not that inspiring. So I am giving it three stars for the usefulness of the lists it gives of really interesting materials that can be used with watercolours, but I feel a lot more of the book was filler, and much better examples of demos, step by steps, and wonderful watercolor work can be found elsewhere.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More tricks than techniques 8 April 2011
By Parka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
This book has an interesting design. It's spiral-bound with a cover that can be attached together to make the book stand - like a spiral-bound calendar. I guess you can read this book while you're watercolour painting at the same time.

Most of the tricks and techniques are one page descriptions on how you can use various materials with watercolour. A lot of unusual and unexpected materials are featured. Some examples include using alcohol, soap, liquid mask, salt, plastic wrap, crayon and other tools like erasers, sponges, wax, etc. The book's goal is probably to encourage experimentation of all these different mediums.

However, not all the new mediums featured come with actual application on a painting. Some of the examples are just quick splashes to show the possibilities and effects you can achieve.

The techniques-side of the book is not much. There are way more tricks and too few short demonstrations. It does talk about the usual techniques like glazing, wet-on-wet, etc, but again, it's missing the process between the tool and the finished work. And the examples don't look particularly inspiring, which is surprising because Cathy Johnson is a artist with lots of beautiful paintings.

There are interesting ideas and tricks in the book, but if you're looking for more techniques, you should look for dedicated watercolour instructional art books.
(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Resource Book 20 Feb. 2010
By D. Goodrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound
When I received this book, I grabbed a cup of coffee and settled in for a relaxing evening. Within ten minutes I was up in the studio, motivated by "Wow, I've gotta try this!"

As a teacher and an author, Cathy is always so generous with information and this book is no exception. She writes in a positive, easy to understand way that motivates you to try something that might seem unusual. Her innovative uses for common items and fresh ways of mixing media together are my favorite parts of this book.

Beautiful paintings, inspiring demos, and very clear step-by-step instructions, will ensure this book a place right on my work table as a dog-eared, well loved workbook. I highly recommend this book for any one working in watercolor, no matter their level.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liquid, Dry and Brush tricks for watercolor, handy prop-up format 5 May 2012
By Joanna Daneman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound
This book has a set of tricks that a watercolorist may or may not know, using liquids, dry materials and brush techniques to give special effects. As someone who has painted for almost half a century, I certainly have seen, if not tried most of this "tricks" and, tricks they are. Meaning, they can give a special "pop" to a painting, or accomplish an effect you want, but they are not the basics of watercolor. Instead, these are things to add when a painting "stalls" or even, sometimes to rescue a painting going flat.

Watercolor is different to oil or acrylics (applied like oils) in that the paper plays a huge role. It provides texture, it provides the true whites and it can affect the paint applied. Since watercolor is applied in transparent layers, the paper shows through at some point in your work or shows through at the finish. The tricks are often designed to let you use the paper in the most advantageous way. For example, one "liquid" technique lets the paint flow more freely. Another thickens the paint (gum arabic) and another causes the paint to race around and even granulate (using alcohol dropped into wet paint. It makes circles!)

Dry techniques include masking, where you apply a tinted rubber cement fluid (frisket or masking fluid), let it dry completely and then paint over it. Rub it off with a crepe rubber square, and the white unsullied paper emerges--or, a layer of paint you protected (thoroughly dried first) emerges behind another. I use this a great deal, and I use something called a Super Nib that lets a fine stream of masking fluid make a thin line, for ship's rigging, cat whiskers and in the example here, a beautiful painting of a spider web. If you want to see how I employed the masking technique, my profile picture is a watercolor I did and the light hitting the edge of the reader's hand was preserved using frisket, as was the light shining on the books. To soften the hard edge that is inevitable with frisket, I used a rubbing and lifting technique, also covered in this book.

There are techniques for texture using kosher or other salt (adds a rough, granulated texture by gathering the paint around the grains. You let it dry and scrape off the salt on the dry dry dry paper with the edge of an old credit card.)

There are ways to use your brushes and ways to use specialized brushes.

The handy prop-up format means you can have this on your taboret or drafting table and leaf through it as you paint.

While I didn't think all the paintings were amazingly beautiful, and in fact, I didn't like a few of them, the examples are good and are the type of thing complete achievable with practice by most amateurs. That should inspire you! Nothing really NEW here, but handy in format and in the fact the book really focuses on tricks and materials rather than actual painting skills. For that, you need a different book.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reference Book for Anyone Interested in Watercolors 20 Feb. 2010
By Shirley Levine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book. There are many techniques and types of products that are reviewed and for every one there are original watercolor paintings prepared by Cathy to demonstrate what is in the text. The first section is perfect for someone just buying their first set of artist grade watercolor paints. The remaining sections carefully review many, many ways to create more advanced effects. It is written clearly and is both a basic and reference book for beginning and advanced painters. I read it through completely and now I'm ready to go back and try some of the methods that are new to me.
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