Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Book Review - Experimental Landscapes in Watercolour' by Ann Blockley

Ann Blockley, previously better known for her flower paintings, has in recent years changed direction somewhat and this book is the latest manifestation. Her flower paintings were never botanical, being more of flowers in the garden or landscape, but they were never abstract. My sister, who lives in the Cotswolds not very far from Ann Blockley, has two of her earlier paintings, one of snowdrops the other Hollyhocks so I have been able to study them in the flesh. (This review is by courtesy of Yvonne Harry who loaned me the book.)

Ann Blockley at work

 Ann's father was the famous John Blockley, one of the leading artists, a contemporary of Wesson  in landscape painting in watercolour, although many of his paintings were of fairly bleak scenes, including coal mines in Wales, hill cottages and farms. Colours tended to be muted. Late in his career he changed style completely and his later paintings bore little resemblance with brilliant colours and an almost abstract approach. As well as watercolour he also painted with pastels and was President of the Pastel Society. I have two of his books, `Watercolour Practice & Progress' and  `Country Landscapes in Watercolour'.

John Blockley

Ann has written several books and I have `Watercolour Textures', published in 2007. This latest book goes well beyond that.

Approx.10 x 9 inches, 128 pages, Batsford 2014 UK £18.99 USA $27.95

The book is divided into 6 sections, with the largest one on `Methods and Medium'. This involves the use of Acrylic ink, gouache, scraping, scratching and cutting, salt techniques, granulation textures, cling film, cellophane, fabrics and much else. There is a chapter on the use of Gesso and collage. The book is profusely illustrated showing and describing the use of these various techniques. There are some paintings I like but many that are too abstract for my taste. Nearly all are very colourful.

I am certainly not averse to using different techniques in watercolour and if you are into this then this book could be very useful. I am somewhat lukewarm about it and it is a step too far for me. On the other hand several of the ladies at my Artists group are big fans of hers and intend to visit - or have visited - her latest exhibition which is tied in with the book launch. The book has been printed in China and the initial tranche supplied to the UK soon sold out. Ann was trying to get more for the exhibition. Added 05/06/14: Jan Weeks visited the exhibition, which is on this week, and said the paintings were `fantastic'. 
Apparently some visitors expressed disappointment as there were no flower paintings on view. 

Added 10/06/14: Ann Blockley's exhibition finished last Saturday and according to her Facebook page she sold, quote,  `squillions' of paintings. Unfortunately she is still waiting for more books to arrive.

If you are into all the various techniques mentioned above you could look at the books by the American author Cathy Johnson which are available on Amazon at very good prices. These illustrate the various methods, materials and techniques individually. 


John Softly said...

I did purchase the book for the Society's Library but as a Wesson devotee my only comment is "Wattle and Daub" .
Certainly not my scheduled for my Library.
James Russel's book on Seago has just been published which is supposedly the definitive work on Seago and is on it's way to me now..

Peter Ward said...

It's all a question of personal preference John and personally I prefer her flower paintings, although some of the landscapes - the more realistic ones - look good.

There was a very good series - about four episodes - on Sky Art a few months ago that was excellent. It was called `The Forgotten Painter' (or Artist not sure which).

Peter Ward said...

Sorry should have said `about Seago' above..