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Art book review: Painting into the light by Jenny Aitken

How does she do that?

If you’ve ever looked at the dazzling light effects that Jenny Aitken suffuses into her paintings, you may have wondered how she achieves it. Now, in her first book about painting into the light, “contre jour” she generously reveals her secrets.

The book reads like a friend is at your shoulder sharing their experiences, borne from years of not only painting, but teaching. This understanding of what students of light may want to know, ensures that the language and topics are accessible through straightforward language and examples, clearly laid out in a way that you can dip in and out of what interests you most.

While the book focuses on painting specific subjects contre jour, (with illustrated step by step projects on her personal approach to a wide array of motifs including seascapes, skies, snow portraits, woodlands, mountains and oystercatchers) it also offers more universal painting advice around central tenets of representational art. Tips on composition and contrast, simplification, brush language, and colour perception, will serve the reader well beyond the realms of contre jour.

With practical advice on topics such as indoor studio and outdoor painting set up, how to get the most from reference photographs, and how to evaluate work, you can feel how Jenny wants you to succeed in your own painting journey. It’s like popping a knowledgeable friend on your shelf!

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