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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
Ruth Coulson’s Watercolour Seascapes: Painting Seas Made Possible is a very detailed and comprehensive guide to what is, in my experience, the most difficult subject to paint – water. Watch as it pours from the tap; it's colourless. All you see when you look at what you propose to paint is either soil swept down from the hills after heavy rain or reflections of the sky. The sea is a stage more difficult, constantly moving to and fro, as are the clouds and shadows cast by nearby cliffs or rocks, and how do you hold a viewer’s interest? Stop! Leave the paints in their pots and take note of the words on the book cover. “How to master masking techniques to paint realistic seas.” Therein lies the secret of success.
No wonder my paintings ended in the trash! I had no idea that paper must be prepared, or that sitting on a beach wasn’t the place to paint more than sketches to take back to the studio. (In my case, the kitchen.) Coulson paints from photographs taken on her local beaches: images captured forever. Step by step, she demonstrates paper preparation, advises on brushes and other equipment, and describes how to manipulate the viewer’s eye towards a focal point, and she admits to mistakes she’s made during thirty years of honing her skill. She left me feeling inspired to give painting the sea a second go; I could do it, armed with Ruth Coulson’s Watercolour Seascapes. It offers a practical, readable, amazingly illustrated and friendly helping hand.