Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Review: Seeing and Painting the Colors of Nature

Flowers for Lisa
8in x 10in, colored pencil on vellum

At the library I recently picked up Seeing and Painting the Colors of Nature by Joseph and Gloria Dawley. I've really wanted to find a book to help learn how to see colors, so I had high hopes for this one.

To be honest, I think it is rather misnamed, but on to that in a moment. It's an inspiring story, Mr. Dawley was a realist painter who when diagnosed with Parkinson's disease became an impressionist painter (after his wife's urging him to paint.) His work is lovely in either stage and there are lots of examples in this book. It has made me think about what I would do if my body could no longer function as I wanted it to, would I give up art all together or find a way to make it work? What would you do?

He has many standard sections on painting, composition, improving photographs, brush strokes, figures, creating depth etc. However, he doesn't seem to really cover how to see colors. There is a blurb on the back that says you should take what's there and then play around to find what works. That may be the best way to learn, but if so, why write the whole book?

So, I'd say it's an interesting take on painting, with a bit of inspiration thrown in, however, it is not really about learning to see color. The Amazon reviewers both liked it, but I'd say two or three pencils out of five.


Jo Castillo said...

The flowers are so lovely. I like the background and the gestures of the flowers.

Helen Van Wyk has a good book on color in regards to oil painting. Probably good for any medium. She was a TV painter, but she had some great color lessons.

Valerie Jones said...

Your painting turned out beautifully!

To answer your question about what to do if a person loses mobility, would your try using your artistic ability in a different way? Upon first thought, I would want to give up. Then I thought about those artists who paint with their mouths or feet. I would definately try that before giving up all together.

I have a couple of books on color. Betty Edwards: Color

Michael Wilcox: Blue and Yellow don't make Green

I use the book by Betty Edwards a lot in the classroom. The book by Michael Wilcox is more technical but very informative. He uses watercolor in his examples. He has a lot of excellent exercises for a person to try to get familiar with color and how it mixes together to create the perfect color you need for your painting.