The new book “Watercolor with an Eye for Design” by Ratindra Das is a wonderful sequel to Mr. Das’ first title “Watercolor Beyond Obvious Reality”. Both of these books are very impressive in what they are trying to achieve. They are aimed at educating the advanced painter, or rather a painter of any level aspiring to get good at what they do. Both of the books are focused heavily on design. These are not books about nuances of applying washes, technical tips and tricks and so forth. That doesn’t mean that they are negligent to technique. It simply means that technique is not their main focus. And that’s what makes them special. Books like these are no longer being published. They are not a presentation of Mr. Das’s work. They are not the usual art books that, let’s be honest, leave you with more questions than answers. They genuinely aim to impress upon you what’s at the core of making a good painting.

The first book “Watercolor Beyond Obvious Reality” was already a great resource and an excellent way to get acquainted with the most important principles behind creating a strong painting. The new book is every bit as good as the first one and in many aspects goes even further. Were you to simply glance over the table of contents though, you’d find that the chapters are actually pretty similar, discussing shapes, values, color and design principles. But each of the topics are discussed more deeply.

What I love about the way the topics are presented is the practical point of view. They are not dry and theoretical. For the most part the information is presented in context of an actual sketch or painting. It is very obvious to me that there’s a mountain of experience behind those lessons. On top of that, the book closes with a final chapter titled “Three “i”s of Painting”. These are Inspiration, Interpretation and Idea & Imagination. I personally find this chapter to be a perfect addition to the book. It does really add another layer of understanding and appreciation for the painting process.

There’s a few chapters or topics that I personally found especially interesting, such as “A ‘Painting’ Worth Keeping!” which is an example of an early work by Mr. Das. He analyzes this painting and points out the usual errors that a beginner does. This is very refreshing to see. Then there’s a chapter titled “Evocative Patterns of Shapes” which points out not only the visual aspect of patterns but puts them into context of mood and atmosphere they convey. Finally “The Collage method of designing a painting” is a very original way to design a painting to Mr. Das, as far as I’m aware, and it’s an excellent way to really understand the shape-making aspect of painting.

There’s a lot more I’d love to talk about as there’s a ton of great information and advice. I had a great time reading through it and will be returning back to certain sections in the future. This is one of those books that you use as a reference constantly, especially when you’re in the beginnings of your journey.

Image: ©2019 ATELIER NOVOTNY

Mr. Ratindra Das is undoubtedly a master painter. His handling of the medium is both playful and masterful and that’s a balance that is hard to achieve. His work commands respect especially because of his excellent design sense. The ideas in his paintings are deliberate and that’s how you tell good painter from a great one.

All in all, “Watercolor with an Eye for Design” is a fantastic book. My advice is pretty clear and definite. You need this book. As I said, there’s very few art books that deal with what really matters. The price of $59.95 may seem a bit steep. However, it is a hardcover of highest quality with great binding and paper quality. And, of course, the information alone is definitely worth it. If you’re interested you can get the book directly through Mr. Das’ website at ratindradas.net.

-Daniel

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