Friday, 2 November 2007

Brushwork Essential by Mark Christopher Weber

The subtitle of the book Brushwork Essentials is “How to render expressive form and texture with every stroke”.

To dedicate a whole book to brushwork is quite a challenge and Weber pretty much held up to his bet (The last chapter of the book is more a collection of traditional painting demonstrations with a short gallery showcasing the artist’s paintings at the end).

The book starts and finishes with the same warning: “One of the great things about oil painting is that there is no one way – no one hundred ways – things should be done.” You won’t find in this book miracle recipes dictating which brush to use to paint tree leaves… and it’s a good thing. Instead, the author reviews the tools of the trade and opens up their potential.

The path taken by Weber reminded me of what
Tiger Woods did in 2002-2003. Wood almost took a year off and re-examined the way he was playing. After that, he came back at the top of the game. Weber is doing just that in this book: deconstructing brushwork stroke after stroke.

The author is conscious that his approach may be “too much” for his reader and he is almost apologetic at times, as in the introduction to Chapter 3 (“This instruction may appear to be nitpicky in the extreme since we are in effect getting on our hands and knees at palette level to get the brush’s eye view” of the most basic procedures. But for those who are searching for exactly the right type of stroke for certain applications (and who else would read this book?) there is no way around acquiring these skills”).

Content of the book

The author covers in the Brushwork Essentials book:

  • Brush types and choice
  • Brush care

  • How to mix paint

  • Paint consistency
  • Mixing paint
  • Brush shaping and paint loading

  • Paint application
  • Different ways to blend
  • Skimming, glazing and scumbling
  • Rendering careful details

Weber is using water mixable oil paint, so you will get good tips in the book if you are using this type of paint. Most of the book advice applies in the same way to conventional oil paint.

This only missing part relates to the use of different painting medium and how they affect brushwork. Weber is talking in the generic way about the consistency of the paint. However, there is no discussion on how the different state of dryness or stickiness of the paint (often linked to the use of painting medium) can be used to good effect and influence the paint marks.

Who is this book for?

This book is not for beginners.

If you are an intermediate painters, this book will make you think about the way you apply paint and will save you couple of years of experimentation. Each technique is clearly illustrated with close-up photographs of the brush in action. The text is easy to read and flows well. From time to time, the style slips into informality, but not to the point of becoming irritating.

For advanced painters (i.e. you have been painting for 20 years), I am not sure you will learn a great deal (unless you have developed bad habits). It could however be useful to expand your vocabulary in the brushwork area and let you describe in clear terms your own technique when presenting your works and working methods.

The Book Details

Brushwork Essentials
Author: Mark Christopher Weber
Published by North Light Books
Hardcover: 143 pages
Language English
ISBN-10: 1581801688

About the Author and Artist

Mark Christopher Weber is painting in the style of the old masters using realistic painting techniques. He resides in Kansas City (Missouri), where he began his career over thirty years ago. He has won numerous awards.

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1 comment:

Janet said...
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