View Full Version : the best watercolor books

06-19-2000, 05:15 PM
as I'm a self-taught, all I have learnt is from books. I bought many, but I feel something is missing.
can you help me to complete my w/c book collection by suggesting me your favorite books?
I'm looking for those books that explain something more than the basic tools and techniques, indicating how to paint in a "special" and personal way.
thank you,
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif ciao rapolina.

06-21-2000, 04:23 AM
Hey, nobody has preferred watercolor or drawing books?
I'm waiting because I HAVE TO learn!!!
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif rapolina

06-21-2000, 09:03 PM
I have quite a few books that I am really fond of. I just began painting w/c last year so the books are fairly recent.

Capturing Light in WC by Marilyn Simandle-She does very beautiful work that is very energetic and filled with light and color.

Painting Shadow and Light in WC by Skip Lawrence- I like a lot of his work as he is really able to simplify forms and base his composition on the quality of light and shadow in the subject.

Color Choices by Steven Quiller- The best color wheel I have seen adopted to watercolor pigments. This book is one of the best I have found on color theory and its application to watercolor (and other mediums).

Light in Watercolor by Lucy Willis- She has a very wonderful approach to painting that is very quick and filled with light. What I really like about her works are that they appear to be really fresh and not overworked or overcomplicated, sort of like quick studies but really more than that.

The Watercolorists Essential Notebook by Gordon MacKenzie- A recent book that really covers items for the beginner to the seasoned veteran. I really like some of his approaches to painting different things, especially when he uses instruments other than the paintbrush to apply the paint.

Drawing Landscapes and Seascapes by Jack Hamm- not a watercolor book but it is an excellent source for related items like composition and value treatment. I feel that one of the best ways to improve your painting skills is to improve your drawing skills.

The only other book I have that I would really recommend is Everything you Wanted to Know about Watercolor. You said you didn't want beginner books but this one has everything but the kitchen sink in it and is a great book to have as a resource for that reason. I have taken a similar approach to learning this medium to the one you have in that I have read everything that I possibly can to supplement the class I took and what I have learned through practice. I feel that there is absolutely no reason that one has to progress at a snails pace if one is serious about learning to paint and utilizes all of the resources available to them to improve their skills and help them develop their own distinct style.

06-21-2000, 09:07 PM
One other thing I wanted to add is that I am planning on looking into watercolor videos in the near future as I think it might be even more valuable than books in that you get to see the instructor apply the paint rather than just see the results at various stages in the demo. Also, if you get the opportunity to take a class or workshop you should definitely do so as often as you can for the same reason as the videos, except that you can ask questions and get troubleshooting and advice on your own work as well.

06-25-2000, 07:06 PM
I really enjoyed "How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself" by Nita Engle. Interesting use of pouring methods initially for the underpainting and then adding the details later on.


Mary Kay
07-01-2000, 10:49 PM
All of the above books are excellent, and I'd add Jeanne Dobie's "Making Color Sing". It is an excellent book on color theory and color mixing.

Mary Kay

07-10-2000, 02:11 PM
Hi Rapolina,

Sorry I am so late to give you my answer. By far, my favorite books are anything by artist
Ron Ranson. I was intimidated by watercolor, but was determined to learn it. Mr. Ranson's method of learning watercolor was almost "easy". He teaches the use of big brushes so you don't spent too much time fiddling and ruining a spontaneous entry of paint. He also teaches mixing colors to avoid muddy colors.
I must say that within a very short time I produced several nice paintings which I have since sold. In my opinion, Ron Ranson's books on watercolors are wonderful.
Hope this helps!

Best regards.....

07-10-2000, 04:12 PM
Okay, here's a list of 'some' of mine on watercolor. All are geared to the artist who knows the basics and desires more from techniques and workshop style books.

Texture Techniques for Winning Watercolors by Ray Hendershot

Watercolor Inspirations (over 100 ideas for the Watercolor Painter) by David Easton

Painting Sunlit Still Lifes in Watercolor by Liz Donovan

Watercolor Day by Day by Michael Crespo

Focus on Watercolor by Timothy J. Clark

Watercolor & Collage Workshop by Gerald Brommer (one of my favorites)

Painting Weathered Textures in W/C by Richard Bolton

Country Landscapes in Watercolors by John Blockley (love his muted colors)

Watercolor Composition made easy by David R. Becker

Painting with Light by Betty L. Schlemm

Painting Watercolors from Photographs by Georg Shook & Gary Witt

Capturing Light in Watercolor by Marilyn Simandle and Lewis Lehrman (I love Simandle's work)

Watercolors Filled with Life and Energy by Arne Westerman

Watercolor Made Easy by Janet Walsh

Light...How to see it...How to Paint it by Lucy Willis (several media included)

No More Wishy-Washy Watercolor by Margaret Martin (this one is must have! if you like rich vibrant colors)

Joy of Watercolor and More Joy of Watercolor, both by David Millard

Watercolor Planning and Painting by Alan Oliver (has good photos showing his painting process)

The Watercolorist's Guide to Painting Trees by Ferdinand Petrie

John Pike Paints Watercolors by John Pike

Making Color Sing by Jeanne Dobie (wonderful book)

Check out Borders or Amazon online for good art book resources....you can follow links thru wetcanvas also.

One of primary resources for learning how to paint has been art books....I love them and have bunches of them and I'm always finding a new one that I must have! Although I don't paint that much with watercolor, I find the techniques and information work well with acrylics. And much of the material is not actually relevant to one medium...I just love it all!

learning to paint
07-11-2000, 06:40 PM
I'd certainly add:

Watercolor for the Serious Beginner


The Watercolor Book

Both are excellent.

07-12-2000, 05:37 AM
My favorite books are,
Developing Your Watercolours by David Bellamy
The Art of Watercolor by Ray Campbell Smith
I find videos ae far more helpful,
David Bellamy ones especially,]

Watercolours from New Zealand (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/rod/)

07-12-2000, 11:26 AM
do you happen to have a library in there somewhere too? http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

07-12-2000, 09:15 PM
I've borrowed several books from the library and one that I found helpful (in addition to several already listed) in Tony Couch's "You Can Do It". His discussion on simplyfing were helpful and his compositions lessons showed OK, better, best. Made me see how just a little change makes a lot of difference.

Lynda Mortensen
07-13-2000, 01:59 PM
For complete beginners anything by English artist 'Alwyn Crawshaw' is a must. His books are very, very 'readable' and he explains with humour and in simple language most of the basic techniques. Try his 'Watercolour Painting Course' or 'Watercolour Studio' - I'm sure you can get them here in the USA, or try joining the international society he created - the SAA, 'Society for All Artists' which offers quarterly newsletters packed with tips and instruction, a membership pack with free goodies such as books and watercolour postcards, and a home shopping catalogue with bargain prices for members - including his books/video's and those of many other artists, paper and materials. Their website is: http://www.saa.co.uk

07-07-2002, 06:54 PM
Jeanne Dobie is AWESOME....I second Carly's choice of that!

Rose Queen
07-07-2002, 10:12 PM
First, welcome to WetCanvas, rapolina! Second, this question has been asked before recently, so do a search (see that little blue button marked "search" in the upper right corner of the screen?) on "watercolor books" and you'll strike gold!

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07-09-2002, 06:09 AM
Hi Rapolina

My favourite books are:

Vibrant Watercolours by Hazel Soan (in the Collins Learn To Paint series)


Watercolour Challenge Practical Painting Course - this has so many ideas for different techniques I would be lost without it.

I am also completely self taught from books - it combines my 2 favourite passtimes, reading and painting :D


07-09-2002, 08:03 AM
Hi rapolina

I would suggest the following watercolur books:-

"The Magic of Watercolour" by James Fletcher-Watson

"Outdoor Painting with James Fletcher-Watson"



Southern Style
07-09-2002, 12:01 PM
Painting Nature in Pen & Ink with Watercolor by Claudia Nice. http://www.brightwoodstudio.com/books_authored.htm

She has written quite a few books..she does beautiful work and she shows her techniques and colors used.

07-09-2002, 02:26 PM
Piacere Ripolina. Mentre scrivo sto ascoltando Paolo Conte. Since I joined WC you're the first Italian I meet, (I think). As to books ... When starting watercoloring some 10 years ago I bought books by the ton but I stopped a long time ago. One has to do it by oneself and learning from experience and ... from failure. Nevertheless, one or two books for beginners are always useful and your local library will certainly dispose of some.
Cari saluti,
Gilberte, Anversa, Belgio

07-09-2002, 03:06 PM
I depend a lot on North Light Book Club, a subsidiary of The Artist's Magazine, which I've subscribed to for 20 years or more... They list books at substantial discounts for members. And they cover all painting media and subjects relating to painting, drawing, showing, selling, you name it they have it...

12-29-2002, 03:17 PM
I like watercolor books but I agree with rod that videos are far more helpful. i learned a lot more about the style of painting than the subject to paint. books only give you direction as to the subject to paint, videos give you style

01-07-2003, 03:34 AM
"...Since I joined WC you're the first Italian I meet..."

ciao gilberte!!! :)
I've met no other from Italy too, but there are in this forum some people with italian origin!

You're right saying that prictice and failures teach a lot, but I think that books can really help, expecially about colors and their properties, that play a big role in a painting.

good 2003 to everybody!! :) :) :)

01-07-2003, 04:35 AM
Any book by Hazel Soan - she has such a colourful and loose approach to watercolours.


01-07-2003, 05:05 AM
I had Watercolour Challenge Techniques in Practice for Christmas and it is wonderful! Lots of lessons on painting difficult subjects like water, bare trees and snow. Then a section on colour mixing, and 22 step by step projects to try. :clap:

If anybody is interested, the ISBN is 0-7522-6211-4


01-07-2003, 08:41 AM
I envy you. I can't find anything on WC in Bosnia.
Those with lots of books, if you had to order one from Amazon to cover everything you need, particularly snow and trees/woods, portraits and maybe florals... which would be your choice?

I find snow on trees a nightmare.