9" x 11" . 144 pages. Rachel Rubin Wolf. North Light Books 2009 US $29.99
The cover painting is a self portrait by Fealing Lin, when on a workshop at Yosemite National park. North Light books, along with Watson Guptill, are the premier publishers of high quality art books in the USA.
I recently obtained this book from the library, one of the reasons being it featured, amongst the fifteen artists, Fealing Lin. It is a hardback book but with the pages being held by ringbinders.The purpose of the book is described as `An inside look at the tecniques of award winning Splash artists'. The Splash books began in 1991 with Splash 1 and the current version is Splash 13. They are something of an institution in the USA. In Rachel Rubin Wolfs words they are considered `a compendium of the best in contemporary watercolor'. I think I am right in saying the artists are American or have lived in America for many years. This is a tall claim and perhaps the word `American' should have been inserted before contemporary. Note added 25/09/12 - I gather my statement is incorrect in that some non-American artists have been featured in the Splash books but they are very much in a minority. I have glanced at a couple of the Splash books over the years but have never been persuaded to purchase them, the main reason being that the style of many of the featured artists was not to my taste, coupled with a fairly high price. The latest Splash 13 remains fairly expensive compared with many other art books. Nowadays the prices of imported books are generally more acceptable and don't have the premium that once applied. No doubt this leaves me open to criticism but I know what I like.
The purpose of this book is to describe how some of the Splash artists `created their exceptional watercolors', again this is subjective. There are so many wonderful artists, who paint in watercolour throughout the World, who don't have International recognition, so to claim `this group' or `that group' are the Worlds best is questionable. This is the same disagreement I have with the elitist approach of the French produced magazine `The Art of Watercolour'.
I must admit I hadn't heard of the majority of the artists in this book, not surprising as I don't claim any sort of encyclopedic knowledge, but as I am a fairly typical amateur or hobby painter then many thousands of others (hundreds of thousands?) would be in the same boat. The ones I have heard of include Robin Berry whose recent book `The Compendium of Watercolour Tecniques' I recently purchased.
I mentioned Fealing Lin who I discovered a year or more ago. I love her work and like all the others there is much information both on her personally and how she achieves her wonderful paintings. This is repeated with the fourteen other artists, and I thought the best thing to do would be to list them all as some may be amongst readers favourites. I don't dispute they are good but it is all a question of likes and dislikes and the `very best' is a tall statement..
The artists are: Fealing Lin, Paul McCormack, Soon Y Warren, Donald Patterson, Mark de Mos, Margaret M Martin, Judi Betts, Pat San Soucie, Robin Berry, Donna Jill Witty, Cindy Brabec-King, Judy Morris, James Toogood, Guy Magallanes, Catherine O'Neill.
Would I buy this book? The answer is no because there is insufficient content to interest me. However this a a personal view and I'm sure there will be many who will disagree as the Splash books have been best sellers in the USA. It is available in the UK from Amazon at £12.99p and Amazon partners beginning at £8.57p.