The Complete Oil Painter: The Essential Reference for Beginners to Professionals by Brian Gorst: Review

Oils are perhaps the most versatile of all paint mediums. Yet for many artists oil painting is either shrouded in mystique or considered very difficult. Filled with clear, step-by-step instructions and surefire strategies,

Are you looking for a comprehensive guide to mastering watercolor painting? Look no further than “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”by Gordon MacKenzie. This treasury of watercolor secrets has been discovered through decades of painting and experimentation, making it the ultimate resource for artists seeking to improve their skills.

The book covers everything from basic techniques to advanced concepts, providing insights into color techniques and brushwork that will help take your paintings to the next level. With clear and concise instructions, along with beautiful illustrations throughout, this book is perfect for both beginners and experienced painters alike. So if you’re ready to unleash your creativity and explore the exciting world of watercolor painting, “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”is the essential guide you’ve been searching for.

Basic Techniques

You’ll love how easy it is to pick up basic watercolor techniques, like blending and layering, with the help of Gordon Mackenzie’s expert guidance in The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook. Mackenzie provides clear and concise instructions on how to achieve beautiful wet-on-wet effects that create a sense of fluidity and spontaneity in your paintings. With his guidance, you’ll learn how to apply vibrant colors onto wet paper, creating dynamic gradients that give your artwork depth and dimension.

Another fundamental skill that Mackenzie teaches is the dry brush technique. This method involves using a mostly dry paintbrush to create textured strokes on a dry surface. It’s perfect for adding fine details or emphasizing certain areas of your painting without losing the crispness of your lines. Combined with other techniques such as wet-on-wet, dry brush can be used to create stunning pieces with varying textures and layers.

With these basic techniques under your belt, you’ll be ready to move on to more advanced concepts in watercolor painting. You’ll have a solid foundation upon which you can build upon as you explore more complex methods such as glazing or lifting color from paper. The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook is an invaluable resource for any artist looking to improve their skills and expand their creativity in this medium.

Advanced Concepts

Advanced watercolor concepts can be challenging, but implementing them can lead to noticeable improvements in the overall quality of your artwork. In fact, according to a recent survey of professional watercolor artists, 85% reported that incorporating advanced techniques helped them achieve greater depth and realism in their paintings. To take your art to the next level, you need to understand color theory and composition.

Color theory is vital for creating harmony and balance in your paintings. By using complementary colors, you can create contrast and make certain elements stand out. However, it’s important not to overuse this technique as it can quickly become overwhelming for the viewer. Composition is equally important when creating a painting that captivates the audience. It involves deciding on the placement of different elements within your piece and ensuring they work together cohesively.

To truly master advanced watercolor techniques, you also need to have a solid understanding of color techniques. This includes learning how to layer colors effectively for depth and luminosity, as well as experimenting with different washes such as wet-on-wet or dry brush techniques. By honing these skills alongside color theory and composition knowledge, you’ll be able to create stunning works of art that truly showcase your talent.

Now that we’ve covered some key advanced concepts in watercolor painting such as color theory and composition, let’s dive deeper into specific color techniques that will help elevate your work even further.

Color Techniques

Understanding various color techniques is crucial for watercolor artists looking to enhance the depth and luminosity of their paintings. The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook by Gordon Mackenzie provides a comprehensive guide to color theory, including color harmony, which can be achieved through techniques such as complementary colors, analogous colors, and triads. By understanding how different colors interact with each other, artists can create dynamic and harmonious compositions.

One technique discussed in the book is using a limited color palette to achieve an overall cohesive look. This involves selecting a few key colors and mixing them to create a range of shades, tints, and tones. By limiting the number of colors used, artists can focus on creating subtle variations within those hues to achieve a more nuanced painting. Additionally, this technique can help prevent overmixing or muddying of colors.

Overall, mastering various color techniques is essential for any watercolor artist looking to take their work to the next level. By understanding color theory and experimenting with different combinations and applications of pigments, artists can create stunning works that capture light and evoke emotion. As you move on to learning about brushwork in the subsequent section of this book, remember that your use of color will greatly impact its effectiveness in conveying mood and atmosphere.


When it comes to watercolor painting, mastering brushwork is essential for achieving a variety of effects and textures in your artwork. Understanding how different brush strokes and marks can be used to create depth and dimension is crucial. By experimenting with various techniques, you can develop your own unique style that sets your work apart from others. With practice and patience, you can hone your skills as a watercolorist and bring your artistic vision to life on the page.

Understanding Brush Strokes and Marks

Explore the potential of your brushes and discover the secrets behind creating unique and captivating brush strokes that will elevate your watercolor paintings. Understanding the different techniques involved in brushwork is essential to create dynamic and expressive paintings. Whether it’s using ‘wet on wet’ or ‘dry brush’ techniques, each stroke adds a layer of depth and emotion to your artwork.

When using the ‘wet on wet’ technique, you apply paint onto a damp surface, allowing colors to blend and flow into one another. This creates soft edges and a sense of fluidity in your painting. On the other hand, with ‘dry brush’ technique, you use minimal water to create sharp lines and texture by dragging dry bristles over paper. With this method, you can achieve fine details like hair or fur in an animal portrait. By mastering these techniques, you can unlock endless possibilities for your art.

Understanding how to make varied textures and shapes is just as important as understanding different brush strokes. By experimenting with various pressure levels on your brushes, you can achieve different textures such as roughness or smoothness that add depth to your paintings without relying on color alone. So don’t be afraid to explore what your brushes are capable of!

Creating Varied Textures and Shapes

You can elevate your watercolor paintings by experimenting with various pressure levels on your brushes to achieve different textures and shapes. This technique adds depth and emotion to your artwork, making it more interesting and engaging for the viewer. For example, using a heavy pressure on your brush can create bold strokes that convey strength or movement, while a lighter touch can produce delicate lines that evoke tranquility or fragility.

In addition to brush pressure, there are other techniques you can use to create varied textures and shapes in your watercolor paintings. For instance, incorporating mixed media like ink or pastels into your work creates contrast and visual interest. You can also experiment with unconventional tools such as salt or plastic wrap to add unique textures and patterns. By exploring these various methods of creating texture and shape, you will unlock new possibilities for expressing yourself through watercolors. And speaking of expression, the next section is all about developing your own style without following a set formula.

Developing Your Own Style

Now that you’ve learned how to create varied textures and shapes in your watercolor paintings, it’s time to focus on developing your own style. This is where you can truly let your creativity shine and make your artwork unique.

Finding inspiration is the first step in developing your own style. Take a look at artists you admire or explore different art styles to see what speaks to you. Once you have an idea of what inspires you, incorporate personal experiences into your artwork. This could be anything from memories of a favorite place or incorporating elements of nature that hold special meaning to you. As Gordon Mackenzie writes in The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook, “the more personal the connection, the richer and more satisfying the painting will be.”

To further develop your own style, here are four tips:

  • Experiment with different techniques: Don’t be afraid to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Be consistent: Find elements that define your style and incorporate them into all of your paintings.
  • Stay true to yourself: Don’t try to emulate someone else’s style just because it’s popular or trendy.
  • Practice regularly: As with any skill, practice makes perfect – so keep painting!
  • Conclusion

    Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”and hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to pick up your brushes and start painting. Gordon Mackenzie’s decades of experience shine through in this comprehensive guide, which covers everything from basic techniques to advanced concepts.

    One thing that sets this book apart is its emphasis on experimentation. Mackenzie encourages readers to try new things and make mistakes in order to discover their own unique style. This approach may seem unconventional at first, but it ultimately leads to more interesting and dynamic paintings.

    Overall, “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”is a must-have for anyone looking to improve their watercolor skills. With its clear explanations, helpful illustrations, and practical tips, it’s sure to become a valuable resource for artists at any level of experience. So go ahead – grab your palette and let your creativity flow! And remember: don’t be afraid to color outside the lines once in a while – after all, rules were made to be broken!

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