Flora Bowley's Brave Intuitive Painting is not your usual instructional art book. It's a book that's focused more on the non technical aspect of creating art than techniques.
Bowley's paintings are characterised by their vibrant, interesting and somewhat surreal blend of colours that act as backdrop to recognisable elements that she adds on top. It may be a bit abstract but there's still a sense visual aesthetic.
The book has more motivational and spiritual talk than actual techniques. Well, there are techniques mentioned but they often come in the form of several one sentence prompts that suggest different ways of experimenting with your drawing tools, be it a sponge brush or your fingers. Those prompts are actually provide a nice amount of ideas that you can try.
The text talks mainly about the more spiritual side, such as ways to reflect, think, relax, meditate. Most tips involve listening to your heart and finding out what's calling your soul so that you can find true voice. It's like that for the whole book. The actual art fundamentals taught can be quite misleading at times, e.g. "when you add wet paint to wet paint, the risk of making mud greatly increases", or "great compositions simply feels right".
The photos used are beautiful but sometimes not very relevant. You'll see photos of people stretching, the author on a swing, close up shots of hand and fingers dabbled with paint, colourful canvases and tools. Sure, when there's a particular tool mentioned, for example using a rag, there's a photo of a hand using a rag to apply paint. Same goes for other tools. It's not very insightful.
The photos I find useful are the step-by-step shots of Bowley completing a painting from start to finish. Unfortunately, there are no captions and the photos are printed at much smaller sizes than others in the book.
Having said all that, this is not a book that will teach you how to paint like Bowley. It's a book on unwinding, getting yourself to relax, enjoy the process, experiment, have fun, finding your true voice.
If you like this book, check out Expressive Drawing: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within as well.
Below's a video of her painting.
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