After having watched and thoroughly enjoyed the Joseph Zbukvic masterclass on ‘Colour in your life’ I decided to take the plunge and invest in one of his DVDs. I was keen to pick up the DVD entitled ‘Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolour’ as it shares a similar title to his book Mastering Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolor.

Mastering mood and atmosphere in watercolour

The book is out of print and, whilst I’ve always kept an eye out for it, copies usually change hands at ridiculous prices – often in excess of £200 – on ebay. I have however read a copy of the book and it is without doubt one of the best instruction manuals on the art of watercolour that I’ve read to date. The book goes into great detail about the approach that he has developed over many many years of practice and is explained through the use of he refers to as ‘the watercolour clock’. This analogy takes into account how wet the paper is (dry, damp, moist, wet) and what’s the consistency of paint (tea, coffee, milk, cream, butter). By mastering all the possible combinations of these elements, you will be armed with the necessary skills to control every ‘edge’ and effect needed to give your paintings a true sense of atmosphere and mood.

The book really is worthy of close study, and an entire review separate to this article, but suffice to say that I thought because the book and DVD shared similar titles, that they would cover similar ground.

Whilst this isn’t the case­, the DVD is still a great investment and a joy to watch. I’ve read lots of  instruction manuals and whilst I’ve enjoyed many, I find it particularly valuable to hear the live commentary alongside seeing the artist at work. I’m fascinated by everything from how the brush is held, to the colour mixing, the confidence of the brushwork and, in particular, how scenes are simplified to focus attention and tell the story. The DVD follows the artist as he creates 3 paintings of very different scenes and does a single sketch. The sketch and one of the paintings are in and around the fish market in Venice and, whilst this first image isn’t either of them – it does I hope give a flavour of the amazing location and the vibrancy of Zbukvic’s treatment. The second image is an actual still from the DVD.

Still from the Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolour DVD
Still from the Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolour DVD

If I were to have any criticism of the film, it’s that I’d also like to see a work developed from a completely blank sheet of paper. In the case of the three painting demonstrations, the action begins at the point he starts to paint, with the composition already decided and the planned painted sketched out in some detail. I think I’d also find it really valuable to see and hear about the process right from the outset. That said, I’ve already stored up a whole host of comments and phrases that I’m hoping I’ll be able to summon up as and when I need them –but I won’t know until I’m deep in the heat of the moment of my next painting.

I’ve also, since buying this DVD, received another Joseph Zbukvic DVD as a present, Watercolour on Location which I’ve yet to watch but am already looking forward to spending some time with! I’ll post another review up in due course.

A penny for your thoughts...? (Not literally you understand - that could land me in a whole heap of trouble!)

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