Watercolour Toolbox: Essentials for Painting Success

Here is what professional editor J. P. Layberry had to say in her evaluation of Watercolour Toolbox:

"Watercolour Toolbox is an “essential guide for painting success,” which answers the sort of questions artists have been asking for generations, regardless of the medium, or the style of artwork in question. Where do I start? What tools do I need? How do I make it look the way I want it to look?

As the title illustrates, the focus of Richardson's advice is on watercolour painting, which she began learning in high school, and honed over her many years of study, and practice. When her experience led her to teaching, in classes and workshops, she discovered the joy that is to be found in the sharing of knowledge. During those years, the questions most commonly needing answers became clear to her, and she answers them in Watercolour Toolbox

Richardson lists exactly the items her readers (her students) need to buy in order to get started with working in watercolour. She describes in very specific detail the paints that will be needed, as well as the brands that are best. She lists the specific tools as well: things like the types of brushes, and paper, the masking agents and supports ... and does what other art writers, and instructors, tend to forget to do―really explain why these things are the best. She explains exactly what each item is used for, and what the differences are.

For example, choosing the right paper is very important when beginning a watercolour project. From the “weight” of it, to whether it was cold or hard pressed, all these elements directly affect how the paint interacts with the paper.  Richardson explains what the different weights mean, as well as the terms “cold pressed” and “hard pressed.” She also explains how, and why, these things impact the painting techniques that are used with them. 

She clarifies the basics of colour mixing, in simple terms that one could apply to other painting mediums as well. How do I brighten colours? Why do my colours seem pale? How do I get the exact colours I want? Richardson gives general advice, and specific examples, all of which combine to make the entire colour-mixing question seem ... well ... answered.

All of her answers are clear and to the point, leaving the reader feeling confident that, although they may never possess Richardson's artist's eye, or her instincts, they could probably manage to create a legitimate painting of some sort, in a medium that is well-known for being one of the trickiest, and least forgiving.

She also addresses a legal issue, which many fledgeling artists probably overlook―the legality of selling a painting of someone else's photo. Most people would probably know enough not to paint someone else's painting and try to pass it off as their own... but photographs are often not thought of as works of art; the (faulty) logic being that anyone standing in a specific spot could have taken the same picture.

However, “paintings and photographs have an automatic copyright...”  She makes this clear, thus protecting her readers from stumbling into legal difficulties, while giving advice on the advantages, and disadvantages, of painting from both life and photos.  She also gives tips for effectively accomplishing both.

Watercolour Toolbox is exactly the sort of instructional art book that amateur artists hope to own when they purchase them from local book sellers, but rarely actually find when they sit down and start reading. Most art books end up gathering dust on shelves, because the advice is either not clear, or does not address the questions the readers would have asked if actually given the chance to do so.

I strongly believe that this book will be an excellent addition to the genre, and be responsible for many new works of art created by inspired, up-and-coming artists."

J.P. Layberry



Whether you are an absolute beginner or have experienced watercolour before, you are sure to find the essentials for painting success in Watercolour Toolbox, available anywhere books are sold. Here is a list of retail outlets.


Karen Richardson