Friday, May 17, 2013


I have been slowly savoring this new book by Mary Whyte.  It is beyond wonderful.  Yes, it does have the usual stuff about her tools and what her palette contains.  It also contains her triad of colors for painting skin tones.  And, of course, it shows many of her paintings.  But there is more here than meets the eye.  This book is like sitting down and talking to a good friend who also happens to be an artist.  She shares her thoughts on the work, the struggle (even she, she says, tears up 1 in 4 paintings!!!), the determination and the joy of being an artist working with people as her subjects. 

I love her work even though my style is not like her style.  She was born in Ohio, lived and attended art school in Pennsylvania (where she met her husband, Smith Coleman); they moved to South Carolina to open a gallery and framing shop after her battle with cancer in 1991 and he supports her every day, not just by showing her work in his gallery but by making frames for her work that compliment the beauty of painting (I would love to see a show of her paintings in real life).

After reading this, I can't say I learned any new techniques.  I'm not a beginner - but if you are, you will learn some new stuff here.  But I do feel like I have learned more about Mary Whyte as an artist - how she lives her days, what she works on and how, more about models and most of all, it gave me a feeling of joy to read.  She truly loves watercolor - everything about it, including the mistakes! - and it shows in her writing.

If you like her work, you will love this book.  It will be a treasured friend on your bookshelf, waiting to give you confidence and support when you need it.  I can see myself picking this one up again and reading Chapter Nine: Life as an Artist whenever I need to boost myself up a little or just remind myself that it's not all sweet tea and cake but the work that gets you there in the end. 

And I have been working.  I just can't show you anything yet.  I'm past the planning stage of a full sheet painting for my Viewpoint entry but am still in the drawing on tracing paper stage.  I'm taking it slow and easy and trying to not stress but do the work a little every day.  I may have something interesting.  And Mary says:

"Improving your work takes effort and time.  It will not happen in a day, but when you are engaged in an endeavor that truly interests you, there won't be enough days in a week to satisfy your appetite to learn more."

"If you want to get better at doing anything, you must be willing to experience failures.  Every seasoned artist I know has done many paintings that were failures...When you make mistakes, you have two choices:  Give up or try again."

This life of art is not for sissies!


Teresa Palomar Lois said...

Thanks for the recomendation Rhonda, it sounds like a good reading.

Hope you're having fun with that new painting!

Lorraine Brown said...

Just love the bottom line Rhonda, how true it is

Sadami said...

Hi, Rhonda,
Thank u for sharing this book! I bought it in March 2012 that has become my bible for watercolour. It enlights me, but also it encourages me to go my own direction and grow as an artist!
Best wishes, Sadami

laura said...

I have numerous watercolor instruction books, and mostly just look at the pictures! There's one I've had for quite awhile, that I bought when I first started to paint and was often unsure what to paint, that I always turned for inspiration: Michael Crespo's Watercolor Class. He is/was a teacher, and the book is organized into two 16-week "semesters." He illustrates many of the techniques/ideas with student work, which I found, and still do find, encouraging.

CrimsonLeaves said...

You said it, Rhonda!

Studio at the Farm said...

It sounds like a most inspirational book [and one I have meaning to get for years]. Thank you for your write-up of the book, Rhonda.

RH Carpenter said...

An excellent book, Teresa, Sadami and Kathryn. Worth twice the price!

Laura, I have that book, too; it is wonderful, especially for when you first begin - you could just do all the lessons and it takes you through semesters - of course, you have to be self-motivated.

RH Carpenter said...

Lorraine, we have to be strong, disciplined, and dedicated to something we love - which is often like an unruly horse or a Boston Terrier! ha ha

Irina Rekhviashvili said...

Thank you for this recommendation so much.

Nancy Goldman said...

I agree that this is a great book. I purchased it a year ago while I was in South Carolina. I was fortunate to see her 'Portraits of the South' exhibition in Charleston. I've never seen such incredible watercolors. She is truly a master and an inspiration.