‘Glorious Garden Flowers in Watercolor’ by Susan Harrison-Tustain – (Published by North Light Books)
A book for artists and garden lovers alike.
I’ll never forget the morning I went to the letter-box and saw for the first time an advance proof copy of my book “Glorious Garden Flowers in Watercolor”.
It was not bound and was forty pages short but I could see that the publishers North Light Books and the printers had made an exceptionally professional job of weaving the text and paintings together and reproducing my art to a very high standard. It surpassed even my highest expectations.
Now that the finished book is in my hands I’m even more pleased. My hope is that artists and those with a love of fine art and gardens will gain great enjoyment and inspiration from my book.
When I first attempted watercolor I knew nothing about the medium or its possibilities or supposed limitations. Oil had been my choice since painting from childhood and I was in awe of the rich depth of hue possible with it as a medium. I wondered if it was feasible to create those same depths in watercolor – so I set about experimenting.
Thankfully all the ‘rules’ usually associated with watercolor had escaped me and I was free to push the medium past all of the preconceived boundaries. In my ‘ignorance’ I evolved a painting style that created beautiful rich luscious colors as well as the delicate subtle tones that describe the softness and gentleness of a subject.
The true excitement was in still being able to retain and emphasize the translucency that only watercolor can produce. My ‘priming’ method was born and has been a reliable friend ever since.
I paint instinctively – observation being my greatest tool. After a time the demand for me to tutor workshops forced me to take a good look at why and how I painted – why I used certain methods and avoided others; which pigments I preferred and why.
It was also a journey of self-discovery – I had finally reached a place in my life where I understood what it is to be totally fulfilled. I had discovered the magic of watercolor and of life at the same time!
“Glorious Garden Flowers in Watercolor” is multi-faceted. Included are over forty completed paintings throughout the book, creating a gallery of my work. Also described are my methods, including my ‘priming’ method along with a great number of other tips and pointers. Among many other things you’ll find how to capture gentle dappled light as it illuminates beautiful blooms and leaves, dew-drops about to fall off a leaf and how to create rich translucent shadows.
I love to paint the very nature of each flower and in my book I show how to describe the form of the large but delicate blooms of the English rose ‘Constance Spry’, then how thick leathery petals such as those of Magnolia officinalis can be portrayed to give an impression of their density. I show how to paint the multiple creases found in Iceland poppies and how to mold with light and shade – warm and cool colors to describe the gentle ruffles of the rhododendron ‘Floral Dance’.
Then there is my signature feature – busy insects such as lady bugs, bumble bees, butterflies and cicadas as they scurry around the composition, bringing life and movement and a ‘soul’ to the paintings.
There are many other examples and demonstrations showing the methods I use. Best of all these can be used for many other subjects apart from those shown. I have chosen to write this book for beginners as well as advanced artists, along with those who enjoy fine art and the garden.
I recently spoke with someone who has one of the advance copies of my book. I was thrilled to hear that it has pride of place on her coffee table and every few days she enjoys leaving it open at a different page. She said it was like having several pieces of fine art in her living room. Opposite the “Conclusion” in the book is one of my favorite paintings. It shows a golden hollyhock growing next to a very old shuttered window in the medieval village of St Paul de Vence in Provence.
My last words in the book are: “I hope, with this book, I have not only shown you how to reach your goals by showing you a number of techniques but, more importantly, also shown how to give your subjects a spirit. I like to think of it rather like leading you to a window, throwing it open and allowing you to discover a whole new world of your own creativity.
May your paintings and their creation fill your soul with joy.”
Many artists, after reading my book, have asked if I have other teaching materials available. In fact since the book was published I have released four 2-disc watercolor painting DVD sets, which are now also available as video downloads.