Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book Review: "Modern Watercolor" by Kristin Van Leuven

"Modern Watercolor" by Kristin Van Leuven has just been published on September 19th, 2017 so it's available now to purchase as a soft cover. I will also be giving away my review copy of this book in the grand reopening of Just Add Water Silly in the next few weeks so watch this space!

This is a lovely "how to" book for beginners in watercolor. Do you want to learn some simple techniques to get simple, solid results? Do you wish you had an easy to understand guide that explained all the buzz words you hear thrown around in the more complicated, traditional watercolor books? Do you find yourself a little confused when you go to other watercolor artist sites because you're not sure what they mean by split primary, color wheel, wet in wet, rigger brushes etc? Well then this book is for YOU.

I'm solidly an intermediate watercolor artist but I sure wish, when I started, I had come across this book before purchasing much more complicated, mind bending watercolor teaching tomes. I'll shamefully admit, I have dozens of books on "how to" on watercolor that I've only perused tangentially. In other words, I looked at the pictures and read the "what I use" section, other than that, they gather dust. When I was starting, all those more technical books with beautiful landscapes and boat docks were incredibly intimidating. Even today, I don't paint like that. Now I realize that means they're not my style... yet. Some day I may get there, but right now I love where I am.

In "Modern Watercolor" you'll find a fully and beautifully illustrated book. Kristin actually shows you the brushstrokes, paint mixes and step by step techniques to help the beginner up their game. The book is uplifting, colorful and so easy to follow. Each technique isn't just illustrated with photos, you get descriptions that are not nebulous but instead are "do this". For instance she first teaches how to paint a peony (above), then she shows how to use that technique to create a painting or even a patten (right). Kristin shows every step, she doesn't just assume you'll know how. She shows and talks about how to create each element then how to place them on the painting, why and how to finish that painting to it's best showing. The content is really easy to follow but also comprehensive.

Kristin goes into detail about how to make simple flowers, leaves, wreaths, animals, faces and even lettering. I was intrigued to see her use a water brush to create lettering, I'll be trying that and breaking out my waterbrushes again. I especially liked her description about why she makes a color mixing chart. I've never taken the time to make one but after reading her "why" I'll be doing it this week. This book even helps intermediate painters! 

If you want to move from confused beginner to a more knowledgable and confident artist, then investing in this book as a starting point is a great idea.


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  1. Looks like an interesting book. Thank you for the information!

  2. Sounds like a great book , especially for those of us, who have only dabbled and were, are afraid to go to the next step! I love the floral piece to the right,the peony as well as those leaf stems are gorgeous!
    Jackie ")


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