Frank Webb: Webb on Watercolor

Frank Webb: Webb on Watercolor


Last week I talked about Frank Webb’s Watercolor Energies and said that it’s one of my favorite books, particularly because of Frank Webb’s genuine voice resonating throughout the book. I also mentioned that there are two other books that I’m going to take a look at and Webb on Watercolor is one of them. It’s actually his second book, following Watercolor Energies.

And similarly to Watercolor Energies, Webb on Watercolor was out of print for a number of years. Not as long, but long enough so that prices for used copies skyrocketed ridiculously. Yes I overpaid extremely for my copy but the reason I mention this is simply to explain why I’m adding both Watercolor Energies and Webb on Watercolor to my list of recommended books only now. I really didn’t see see the point of recommending a very expensive out-of-print book that is difficult to get by. Well the good news is, not anymore! All three of Frank Webb’s books are now back in print! These are Watercolor Energies, Webb on Watercolor and Strengthen Your Paintings with Dynamic Composition. According to my information they are available directly from the publisher Echo Point Books but that’s all I know about these new editions. Unfortunately I cannot say if these books are only reprinted originals or if they actually went through editing and if so how extensive it was. Note that I don’t own any of these new editions, therefore the information in this article refer to the original first paperback printing (1994) of the first edition from 1990 that I own.

The contents of the book are as follows:

  1. Elements
  2. Mechanics
  3. Values
  4. Color
  5. Style
  6. Space
  7. Planning
  8. Encounter
  9. Life
  10. Diagnosis
  11. Philosophy

The book is structured somewhat similarly to the Watercolor Energies, yet it’s different enough so it doesn’t feel like you’re reading the same book. I find the approach in this book less personal from the previous book though. That personal approach, for me, was the strength of Watercolor Energies. Webb on Watercolor doesn’t flow as nicely; it’s more structured. The chapters are clearly divided further into smaller sections. This approach, though not as personal, is really useful if you’re looking for a certain topic. I find the structure of the contents of the book exceptionally logical and clear and really well thought-out.

Webb on Watercolor was my go-to book for a long time. I have read it probably two dozen times. The instructions and information in the book are quite advanced for someone with very basic knowledge of painting theory. I started as a painter of light and had little understanding of the plastic elements that are employed in the making of good art. And so I went through the book as many times as I had to, to fully understand and appreciate what it has to offer. I did so consciously though. I sought the information and I looked for answers because I felt that painting of light takes me nowhere. And when you look for those kinds of answers, you’re bound to come across Frank Webb’s work. And that’s where this book comes in.

Now I don’t want to oversell the book because I could’ve easily said the same about Watercolor Energies or Edgar Whitney’s Complete Guide to Watercolor Painting, and honestly about some others too. What I want to stress though is that this is not one of the self serving books that promote the artist on the expense of the reader. Not a book into which you just look to enjoy some pretty pictures. You need to get into it with serious intent. You need the drive to better yourself and the humility to accept what is offered to you. And offered is a lot. Get this book, sink your teeth into it. You now have a chance to get all three of these gems for a fraction of the price I paid for acquiring just one of them. If you’re honest with yourself and your work, you can benefit greatly from learning from Frank Webb’s excellent resources.

Please note this is an article repost.
Original publish date overwritten.
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  1. Francesco Gallarotti

    Hmmm… I wonder if there is a downloadable version of this. I never owned a DVD player nor a TV, and none of my computers have a DVD player any longer

    1. Hi Francesco,
      This is an actual book. You can get it here:

  2. Russell

    Hi Daniel,
    For those out there, this book came out in connection with Frank’s first video, “Webb on Watercolor.” If you’re going to get the book, I’d also recommend that you order the DVD to see Frank actually painting (2 demos). I’ve spent time with Frank painting together and I can assure everyone that this is a man who is not only gracious with his instruction, but is kind of heart as well to those seeking out the mysteries of painting.

    1. I’ve got the DVD and I wholeheartedly agree with Russell’s recommendation. I’ve watched it a number of times and every time the exact sentiments he mentions come across. It’s really a tremendously wonderful experience to watch Frank paint on this particular DVD.

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