Lately, I’ve been trying to check out books from the library rather than buying so many art books every month or two. It seems like I’ve been through most of the ones at the library more than once now, but a couple of weeks ago I found a new one that I hadn’t seen before and it held a wealth of information in it’s pages. I found it motivational and inspirational. I always find myself thinking “What would Monte do?” when I personally am faced with a disastrous painting. Monte Guynes, one of my painting mentors, was a master of rescuing paintings. He said if you have an area of conflict, do one of 2 things. Get rid of the conflict, or add more of it!

The recently read book is called “Master Disaster: Five Ways to Rescue Watercolors”. It’s author is Susan Webb Tregay. If I could scan to my laptop, I’d show you the front cover, which is red and floral. The copyright date is 2007 and it’s a very readable and attractive book with lots of good tips. Susan analyses a large number of unsuccessful watercolors and tells 5 steps to help you rescue them from the “reject” pile. The five tips are as follows, and even though they are applied to watercolors, they could work in many mediums.

Step 1: Lighten up! Remove mud, lost highlights, poorly drawn areas. . . .whatever you hate about your painting. Stencils will help you execute clean, precise corrections.

Step 2: Break up boring spaces. Intrigue your viewer by varying and repeating elements, so that even backgrounds play a dynamic role in the overall “entertainment value” of your piece.

Step 3: Strengthen your values. Don’t succumb to watercolor’s pale reputation. Add real darks, enrich your colors, strengthen your shadows, and take advantage of the full range of values.

Step 4: Unify. Organizing your values and colors can pull a painting together at any stage of the game. She shows 17 proven design strategies plus powerful color schemes that will add unity and emotional appeal.

Step 5: Surprise yourself and your viewers. Content is crucial to meaningful paintings, and it can be worked into your pieces late in the process.
If you are interested in knowing more, check out the book at the library or the bookstore. I think you’ll find it a learning experience!