I was given a digital version of this book to review by the publishers via netgalley.
If you are a fan of the beautiful watercolour illustrations that pop-up all over Instagram and Etsy, then you need to read Modern Watercolor by Kristin Van Leuven.
There are so many books out there that teach painting with watercolours, what makes this one different Well the clue's in the title, Modern Watercolor is just that, modern! Most of the books on a similar topic feature projects that all look very traditional. Mountain ranges and fishing harbours all have a place in watercolours, but it's not what the young people are looking for! We want to paint colourful flower bunches, leafy wreaths and witty quotes. This is what we learn in Modern Watercolor by Kristen Van Leuven.
It's a beginners introduction into all things watercolour. From the different paint and brush options, to paper types and application methods, Modern Watercolor has you covered. Once you've collected your materials, you will see pages of easy to follow tutorials. This starts with the basics - different ways to apply the paint to the paper, through to colour mixing and layering. Lastly the book shows a range of lessons including how to paint different types of flowers, lettering, landscapes, animals and even home interiors.
I am not a complete beginner at watercolour, having taken some classes at school, but it has been a while. The first tutorials on how to use the paints are really fun and a nice introduction into experimenting with your ideas. I followed some of the floral sections in Modern Watercolor and found them really easy to follow. The instructions are thorough but allow you enough freedom to pick your own colours and brushes. I'm pleased with my first attempt and as the images are so small, it would be easy to pick up and practice often, unlike a full landscape.
Modern Watercolor is a great book if you're looking to learn the art of watercolours but don't want to paint traditional landscapes. The introductions to equipment and techniques are simple yet very informative. I love the floral and lettering sections as these subjects make the book modern. However, some of the other illustrated tutorials such as animals and interiors are not as strong. It is clear that Kristen Van Leuven is not as practised in these areas as she is in the lettering and florals, but I don't think that is a bad thing. If nothing else, it proves that you can't be brilliant at everything! Modern Watercolor is meant as an introduction and inspiration, and it certainly is that.