This book was an ah-ha read for me! Before making the decision that oil pastels would be my 1st choice of painting medium, I explored several others, one being watercolors. In my research I discovered a fantastic book written by Gordon MacKenzie, The Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook Landscapes. Mr. MacKenzie, a well-respected Canadian Artist, has a long history in the arts both as an accomplished artist and as an instructor (academics and art community); his work has won many awards.
For me, this book opened my eyes to the subtleties of painting landscapes. It’s well written, easy to understand, and has illustrative examples for each concept MacKenzie explored. Basically it forced me to think, almost in an abstract way, how to paint landscape subjects so they look like the real thing. A very few of the examples he provided are: how to paint rocks (textures, cracks, shadows), reflections in water, tree structures and leaf patterns, water (calm, rapids, big water, sparkles, sea-foam/spray), and cloud patterns. There are many more subjects tackled. Mr. MacKenzie demonstrates through colors, values and painting tools (conventional and non-conventional) that basically any subject in the landscape can be mastered.
I have been able to take Mr. MacKenzie’s instructions and interpret them for use with oil pastels, and to this day when I’m struggling with a subject I still go back and use his concepts as a guide. The reason why I love to paint is because I get to use both my analytic and creative sides – for me, that’s what makes painting really interesting.
Thank you Mr. MacKenzie, you’ve opened my eyes to the subtleties of painting. Even though the application of watercolors is almost opposite from how oil pastels are applied, it was Gordon MacKenzie’s process that made me appreciate the illusions of painting, in a very fascinating way.