I recently purchased a new DVD from one of my favorite living artists, Mary Whyte. The DVD is called Watercolor Portraits of the South. It is one of the best DVD's I've watched - ever. Mary goes from planning a plein aire modelling session to drawing and sketching out thumbnails to watercolor sketches in the field - with plenty of photos for reference. She does all this as a planning stage for her larger paintings done in the studio. I can't praise this DVD enough. A lot of times, you want to learn more about portrait painting and you get bits and pieces on a DVD that leaves you with questions. I haven't even finished this DVD (which runs for 129 minutes) but it has already inspired me to get back to a painting I had left unfinished - that, to me, is a good DVD!
Mary is an exceptional artist and you get to watch her paint loose, big shapes (paint the big shapes first, she says) and then focus on the smaller, more detailed elements like eyes, nose and mouth. She takes her time but it's magic watching her paint and you say, "I get it!" She obviously knows how to draw and she works on her compositions until she gets what she wants (hence all the sketches and photos).
In the DVD, we get to meet her model and Mary's husband (who is her framer) and learn about his way of looking at Mary's artwork and how his handmade frames enhance her paintings. He says, "She didn't marry me for my money," and Mary replies, "I married him for his frames!"
This is not a DVD I'll watch once and then put away and never look at again. I can see myself taking this one out and watching again and again - not only because I love her work but because it's a real learning experience. If you can't take a workshop from Mary Whyte, this is the next best thing.
My only disappointment is that she has no southern accent! I knew she wasn't born and raised in South Carolina, but thought that, after all these years, she would have picked up the accent a little bit. I know I would!
The Christmas season is almost here, if the store shelves are to be an indication - so put this on your wish list or buy it for yourself.