Review: Watercolour Textures, Ann Blockley

Circling the Internet which is my wont, the name Ann Blockley turned up on several occasions.  The name was familiar, but it wasn't until I received Ms. Blockley's book, "Watercolour Textures," that I realized she is the late, very much esteemed John Blockley's daughter.

On first glance I was pleased I hadn't bought but had borrowed the book from my ever helpful library.  But as I dug in and let myself move with Ms. Blockley's friendly tone and engaging writing manner, I realized the book and the author are prizes.

Ann Blockley's book is written in an open, nearly conversational fashion, so much so that I could almost hear her voice as she moved from one suggestion to another creating both a professionalism and an intimacy with the reader.

It took nearly a week to read and begin to absorb but I am certain that in the near future I will be purchasing one or more of her books as I am so pleased with her presentation.  She is not a martinet, but an enthusiastic explorer willing to share her travels and offer her experiences.  Furthermore, she is an extraordinarily able and expressive painter.

Ann Blockley (c) at Manor House Gallery (sold)

The primary reason I was put off by the first half dozen pages was what appeared to be the lack of new material.  As a hobbyist, acrylic and mixed media was my passion, and mixed media means anything goes.   Watercolourists, especially the traditionalists, are loathe to even touch white or black paint, and adding other elements or other media an anathema.

Ms. Blockley moved away from those strict traditions, and has explored everything from cling film (saran wrap) to India ink, collage elements, acrylic ink, gouache and other media and instruments to texture her work.  Her strength, among others I will come to know and appreciate, is her ability to share her experiments and provide new ways to look at watercolour painting in a non-threatening way, inviting you into the process and join her in the adventure.

The "explore further" notes throughout the book are especially helpful, informative and worth the price of the book.  In fact, this book is a mini-class in watercolour painting.  Tucked in with pictorial examples, are serious gems from an experienced and talented artist.

From reluctant reader to enthusiast, I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with the perfect watercolour painting and wants to break free.  In addition to Ms. Blockley's work, she's included three other artists, all of whom are unique and noteworthy: her father, John Blockley, Shirley Trevena of "Taking Risks with Watercolours" fame, and lastly the well known pastel and watercolour artist, Moira Huntly.  I am fortunate to have one or more books from each of these experimentalists and ground breakers on my shelves.

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