“Essential Watercolor” by Birgit O’Connor

Watercolor essentials smThere’re such a wide range of books and guides about mastering watercolours and of course, I can only speak of those books which I have particularly enjoyed myself. (By which I’m not implying any mastery of watercolour at all! Quite the opposite – I still feel I have so much to learn)

Watercolour tutorial books tend to have the same format; guiding you through materials and then techniques and Birgit’s book as comprehensive as you need.

Materials – Birgit looks at all the usual paraphernalia that one needs to paint with.

Color – In this section Birgit looks at the vast array of colours which can mixed, as well has basic techniques for manipulating colour. She looks at creating washes and how to take advantage of blossoming.

Watercolor essentials 01Value – This is one of my favourite parts of Birgit’s book, as she demonstrates how to create subtle transitions between areas of colour. (To be honest this is probably my favourite section because I feel I need to learn from this section the most; creating a gradual change in value is one of the trickier aspects of watercolour painting, as far as I’m concerned)

The guidance which Birgit gives is accompanied by exercises which you can follow alongside Birgit to practice and develop your skill at creating value gradation in your own work.

Watercolor essentials 02Techniques – This is, by far, the largest section in the book and where Birgit Guides you through about twelve techniques for creating effects. Such as using salt and masking fluid.

Each technique is accompanied by several exercises to flex your technique-muscles.

Applying The Techniques – In this final section, Birgit demonstrates several of the techniques from the previous section in a series of paintings.

One thing I love about this particular guidebook are the wealth of photographs. Each individual technique has something like 12 photographs of Birgit demonstrating. It almost feels as if your standing over her shoulder whilst she guides you.

The accompanying DVD helps fill in even further: Birgit covers the same information as in the first four sections of the book. The techniques section could have done with it’s own DVD sub menu to allow quick recaps of the various techniques shown. Although not all the book is presented within the DVD, over half of the book’s material is presented on the DVD (The contents page of the book clearly shows which subjects are presented on the DVD).

It’s certainly nice to see her techniques in action and it makes the book come alive even more.

127 pages

3 Comments on ““Essential Watercolor” by Birgit O’Connor”

  1. […] one of my favourite guidebooks, “Watercolor Essentials”by Birgit O’Connor, she […]


  2. Angela Bateman says:

    I just bought this book but i do not have a DVD player. Does anyone know where i can watch th DVD online?


  3. Oh, Blimey, Angela! I’ve just realised I’m in the same boat now, too! My computer doesn’t have a DVD player on it! There are a bunch of Birgit O’Connor videos that can be watched online; a few correspond with chapters in “Watercolour Essentials” – most notably one on brushes and others about washes.
    Hope this helps a little.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s