Colors of the West explores wild places through the lens of watercolour "en plein air" painting, a French term meaning literally "in the open air". Steeped in the natural world, award-winning artist Molly Hashimoto has sketched in the outdoors and worked as a plein air artist and teacher for more than 20 years. In that time she has filled more than 40 sketchbooks with landscapes, vignettes, studies of flora and fauna, and natural history notes – all created while visiting some of the American West's most stunning landscapes.
This new book is organized by colour, a unique approach to teaching both intermediate and budding artists how to really see colour in the outdoor spaces around them, and then apply it to journals, other art projects, or simply beautiful memories. The average person can see 17,000 colours (!), so Molly explains the concept of palette, that is the range of colours that unites elements of geography, geology, and the different kinds of light created by atmosphere, season, and latitude. Molly's own hand-drawn sketches and paintings of familiar Western landscapes help convey these colours, along with sidebars and insets on individual species (trees, birds, mammals, and other flora and fauna) and historical notes related to the park or site she has sketched. Tips and techniques for outdoor journaling and painting are included throughout.
From the green hues found on Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast and in Yellowstone's quaking aspens, to the reds that highlight the rocks in Arches National Park and the giant sequoias in California, readers and artists of all levels will learn a new appreciation for the colours of the West – and how the details of natural beauty can be revealed when we stop, observe, and pay attention to the outdoor world.
Seattle artist and writer Molly Hashimoto has been sketching and painting in the outdoors for more than 20 years, and has filled over 40 sketchbooks with landscapes, vignettes, studies of flora and fauna and natural history notes, much of the work created while visiting some of the West's most iconic parks and monuments. Her paintings, prints and illustrations have been published as notecards, calendars and books for many years by Pomegranate Communications. Colors of the West: An Artist's Guide was published in 2017. Her latest book, Birds of the West: An Artist's Guide was released on May 1, 2019. In it she shares dozens of prints, sketches and watercolors of the west's iconic species with information on where to find them, and explains her choice of media, offering many tips and techniques. She is a printmaker and watercolor artist, and teaches regularly for Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, the Yellowstone Forever Institute, and the North Cascades Institute.
"An inherently fascinating and delightful volume of images and commentaries, Colors of the West is a unique celebration of the flora and fauna to be found in our national parks and reserves. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library art book collections, Colors of the West is unreservedly recommended."
– Midwest Book Review
"Dividing up the book by these colors, and showing the possibilities, helps us see, and appreciate, some of the finer details of the parks when we visit. And Ms. Hashimoto's beautiful watercolors give us something to aim for, if we're so inclined to take palette and paintbrush into the parks and sit a while to take in the landscape [...] For aspiring artists, this would be an excellent book to pack along for a field course in watercolors, such as those offered by Yellowstone Forever (where Ms. Hashimoto will be one of the instructors), Glacier Institute, the Grand Canyon Association, the North Cascades Institute, and others."
– National Parks Traveler
"Seattle artist Molly Hashimoto takes readers through some of the basics of painting the iconic mountains and tree lines of the West Coast. She even breaks down which brushes and techniques to use and organizes chapters by color. Even if painting isn't your aspiration, Colors of the West is a worthwhile read for the beautiful watercolor illustrations."
– 425 Magazine
"I love this book. I love everything about it."
– Brian Cantwell, Seattle Times
"This is a peaceful book that honors artist as well as place."
– Everett Herald
"From the green waters of Diablo Lake in Washington's North Cascades National Park to the orange sandstone of Arches National Park in Utah, Molly Hashimoto captures the beauty of Western ecosystems in Colors of the West. The book features her plein air watercolors of the wildlife and landscapes she's encountered in the parks, monuments, wilderness areas and refuges scattered across the region. Hashimoto's observations on natural history and recollections of light, color and specific scenes accompany the images. For readers interested in heading outside with a sketchpad, she includes a short tutorial on painting in natural settings. Tips on technique and short profiles of other artists whose work Hashimoto finds inspiring are sprinkled throughout the book. It's important to observe and record the details of the landscape, she writes, "but even more vitally, to communicate to others the value of these places."
– High Country News
"Colors of the West: An Artist's Guide to Nature's Palette, is beautiful, educational and instructive. It's a good read whether you've never made art or you're an old pro."
– Jessi Loerch, Washington Trails Magazine