Alvaro Castagnet's Watercolour Masterclass (English)

Artist: Alvaro Castagnet
Language: English
Format: Hardback Book
Price: £30.00 (Inc VAT where applicable)

In this inspiring new book, Alvaro Castagnet, one of the most awarded watercolour artists of our time, reveals the 4 secrets of his success. As well as unveiling a fabulous collection of finished paintings, Alvaro presents a series of exciting and varied demonstrations for you to follow. These are supported by multiple examples, explanations and words of wisdom. Going beyond technique, Alvaro introduces you to the magnificent world of making striking paintings that convey meaning. The knowledge Alvaro shares is crucial for every artist, whether you are a beginner or an advanced student, and it will become a valuable basis for your own creations.

“I guarantee your watercolours will improve when you read this book!”



If you’ve seen Alvaro’s DVDs, you’ll know that he’s an enthusiastic demonstrator who has plenty to say and who puts on a gripping performance. You might also wonder how he would get on when put into the static confines of a book. Maybe the magic would be lost or, if it was retained, would it be possible to make any sense of the result? Well, I did anyway.

I think the first thing to say is that this is privately published, and that can be a very bad thing. Most authors need a good editor and it’s very hard to be your own. On top of that, artists are rarely good book designers. It doesn’t bode well, does it? To go against that, I think it’s fair to say that the last thing a characterful demonstrator needs is a conventional approach.

So, having got the pitfalls out of the way, how does the book shape up? Well, it’s certainly not conventional. The pages are, at first sight, an assault on the senses. There’s lot of colour, drawing and typically Alvaro-esque pearls of wisdom and they seem to be scattered around. Look more closely and you’ll see that the exercises and demonstrations are all there, but well-disguised. This is a book to absorb, rather than to read. It should also be said that the editing and design are just what’s needed. There’s a good list of production credits and Alvaro has assembled an excellent team around him and hasn’t indulged himself.

The core premise is the Four Pillars of Watercolour. These turn out to be Colour, Shape, Value and Edges – not exactly unconventional, but an excellent place to start and a nice summing-up of the basics. Everyone has their own variation and this is as good as any and better presented than many. Overall, the book has a nice progression and I particularly like the very first chapter: Think and Feel Your Way to Emotive Art, which places creativity firmly before the mechanics (Materials follows it). The Four Pillars follow and there is then a series of demonstrations in locations around the world. These are mostly in places where the sun shines, so expect a lot of light – if Alvaro does damp, rainy climates, he’s keeping it to himself.

I suspect you have to buy into Alvaro’s persona of The Passionate Painter to get the most out of the book, but he’s an engaging demonstrator and, on the evidence of this, an absorbing writer as well. The pearls of wisdom I mentioned earlier are succinct summings-up of whole rafts of sound advice and have the great merit of being memorable.

Many of you will be familiar with the work of Australian artist, Alvaro Castagnet through his DVDs, available from APV Films. In his new book, Watercolour Masterclass, Alvaro explores what he describes as ‘four pillars of watercolours’, which he sees as the cornerstones of good painting. These comprise colour, shape, value and edges, and the book looks at each in detail. Information on the essentials – materials, techniques and brushstrokes are given at the beginning, followed by eight detailed step-by-step demonstrations that allow you to watch Alvaro at work and see how the four pillars are applied to bring the subject to life. The book is full of helpful comments and tips from the artist to encourage you to think about the marks you are making. This isn’t a book for beginners as some knowledge of the medium is required. However, for artists with a good level of technique, it will enhance that knowledge to enable you to produce paintings of real quality.
ARTIST - November 2016

This book is a rather successful distillation of the way Alvaro Castagnet works and demonstrates. Full of enthusiasm and useful hints and nostrums, it is also alive with colourful illustrations that both capture the personality of the man and his somewhat flamboyant painting style.

Although there are plenty of examples and demonstrations, this book is an immersive course and experience in the philosophy of painting. Other books have attempted to write about the creative process and to explain the mindset behind creating a piece of art, but they almost always finish up being dry and dull. Painting is about seeing, not about reading. Here, by means of short captions, pithy remarks and sections that one would hesitate to call chapters, Alvaro recreates the experience of his working methods. The result is something of an assault on the senses, but definitely one worth persevering with.

Reviewer: Henry Malt

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