Book Review: "Complete Guide to Watercolour Landscapes" by Terry Harrison

Updated on September 1, 2019
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Adele Cosgrove-Bray is a writer, poet, and artist who lives on the Wirral peninsula in England.

3 stars for Complete Guide to Watercolour Landscapes

What's it About?

This heavily illustrated book aims to be a helpful guide for painting realistic watercolour paintings for beginners and more experienced leisure painters alike.

The text offers clear step-by-step instructions which are easy to follow, and each exercise has plenty of photographs to show the reader how to proceed, and is written in a cheery, affable manner meant to encourage people to have a go.

The book is presented in four sections: trees; flowers; mountains, valleys and streams; then sea and sky. These were originally available as separate books.

About the Author

Terry Harrison was born in 1951 in Norfolk, England. He studied at Farnham Art School then began a career in graphic design. He never lost his love of painting, and in 1985, after a stint working for the Yellow Pages telephone directory, he chose to become a full-time self-employed artist.

He founded his own publishing company in 1989, specialising in art books. He currently has 17 books available on the market.

In 1990, Harrison began developing his own range of paint brushes, which later expanded to his own range of watercolour and acrylic paints. He was awarded the Fine Art Guild's award for Best Up and Coming Artist in 1996.

Between 2000 and 2017 he created many images for Gibsons Games' series of jigsaw puzzles. He demonstrated his painting techniques at workshops across Britain and also in South Korea and America.

Harrison also starred in a series of DVDs which have been screened on the Painting and Drawing Channel on Sky TV. There are currently 13 of his DVDs available to buy, plus a small series of free video clips on his website or YouTube.

He married fellow artist Fiona Peart in 2011, then passed away in 2017.

What's to Like?

This book is well presented with masses of clear, step-by-step, good quality photos to demonstrate how Terry Harrison created his conventional and realistic pictures. These successfully make the projects very easy to follow, and should provide encouragement to anyone new to watercolour painting, which was surely his intention.

For example, Harrison's section on how to paint trees presents several different methods, each depicted in easy stages to coax a student to try their hand at these by themselves, perhaps in a sketch book.

Harrison offers sound advice on the use of photographs in conjunction with sketches, and how to combine reference images to best effect using a touch of artistic licence, again offering encouragement to the beginner or hobbyist.

It's fair to say that 'encouragement' is a key theme of Harrison's approach, as he generously shares his accumulated know-how with his readers.

Photos of the artist's own hand working away with brush and paint on the paper enable the reader to see how he's using a large size of paper rather than the typical A4 size which newbies so often tend to reach for. He gently pushes people to step beyond those limiting comfort zones and consequently broaden both their skills and repertoire.

Critics might point out that Harrison's range of artistic expression is sentimental and sweet, but taste is an entirely subjective, individualistic issue and this style has long been popular with the leisure painters to whom this book seems marketed.

Terry Harrison's Top Tips for watercolour Artists

What's Not to Like?

Harrison seems to rely heavily on the use of masking fluid. Some artists like masking fluid, while others do not as it can leave harsh edges, damage the paper surface and ruin brushes. Harrison does offer a tip on how to protect brushes from damage by first coating the bristles with damp soap but I haven't tried this for myself, as I rarely use masking fluid, and so cannot comment on his advice.

This volume is actually four previous books rolled into one, a good idea which could have been improved with tighter editing as now we have four introductions with four explanations of which brushes and colours to use, and repetitions of basic information.

The section dedicated to painting flowers is, frankly, weak. There are no detailed botanical painting techniques here, so a person seeking that would be disappointed. Harrison's flowers are simplified touches of colour, enough to imply flowers within a larger picture but insufficient on their own.

Throughout the book, Harrison refers to his own product range of paints and brushes which is understandable as he's trying to sell them. Unfortunately, a beginner might find this confusing if they've already purchased watercolours and brushes by, to employ an obvious example, Winsor & Newton as the product names will differ.

If you are new to watercolour painting, then I refer you to my HubPage which will guide you in product selection and could save you money. See the link directly below.


The biographical and bibliographical information in this article came from:


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© 2019 Adele Cosgrove-Bray


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