paint

Book Review – Celestial Watercolor: Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies by Elise Mahan with D.R. McElroy

June, 2019

Book Review
Celestial Watercolor
Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies
Written by Elise Mahan with D.R. McElroy
128 pp
The Quarto Group

“Celestial Watercolor: Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies” is a book that does dual duty. On one hand, it’s as a beautifully illustrated and produced full-color coffee table-style book which is immensely enjoyable to flip through whether you read it or not. On the other, it’s a genuinely useful guide through the world of classic watercolor technique, with watercolor illustrations of the phases of the moon, astrological signs, and the seasonal night skies as examples. These examples come paired with corresponding texts that delve into some basic magical associations.

In the first part of the book, Mahan and McElroy lay out all the tools necessary to get the reader started with watercolors: papers, paints, brushes, pens, and pencils, with some basic recommendations of their favorite brands. They briefly discuss the techniques and effects used in the book, such as wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry watercolor; while these descriptions are not very detailed, they are more than enough to get an artist through the examples used in this book.

In the second part of the book, the authors walk the reader through the traditional Western zodiac, the phases of the moon and names of each month’s moon in different cultural traditions (which makes a really lovely addition, as many authors choose only one version of these names and omit the rest, but it’s enlightening to see several in one place), and seasonal landscapes and palettes to ground the celestial watercolors to the earth in full-color illustrations. Each of these sections is accompanied by a walkthrough of the process used to create the watercolors depicted, and an array of inspiring images for each sign, moon, or season. They are also peppered with descriptive lore and tradition about each topic. 

The goal of “Celestial Watercolor” is very focused, and the book accomplishes it well: there is a lot of inspiration, information, and technique here. While the lore is illustrative in its own way and adds greatly to the book, there isn’t enough astrological, lunar, or seasonal information for this book to be used as a thorough guide for a serious astrologer or magicians, but it really isn’t the point of the book, either. Instead, “Celestial Watercolor” gives a solid foundation for basic astrological information and a type of art that many witches would probably love to add to their journals, of Shadows, wall art, and more, with Mahan’s beautiful illustrations shining through for inspiration.

Celestial Watercolor: Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com