Gurney Journey | category: Academic Painters


Gurney Journey

This daily weblog by Dinotopia creator James Gurney is for illustrators, plein-air painters, sketchers, comic artists, animators, art students, and writers. You'll find practical studio tips, insights into the making of the Dinotopia books, and first-hand reports from art schools and museums.

Painting People in Rural France

Painting People in Rural France

Ohio-born artist Elizabeth Nourse painted directly from models in rural France. She was often "in villages with no inns or accommodations and lived either with members of a religious community or with the peasants, to an innate sympathy with women and children of the peasantry and enabled her to gain their confidence and observe them closely while living among them."

Painting People in Rural France

"Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942) had quite a different experience in Brittany. Writing about her unsuccessful efforts to get a Breton woman to pose for her, she observed, 'We found that the people, especially the country folk, did not really like les artistes.'"

Quotes from Elisabeth Nourse, 1859-1938, A Salon Career

Source: Wikipedia on Elizabeth Nourse and Cecilia Beaux

Sorolla's Working Method

Sorolla's Working Method

In the year 1904, Joaquín Sorolla (Spanish, 1863-1923) produced nearly 250 works, which included sketches and finished paintings. 

Sorolla's Working Method

His working method was documented by his friend Aureliano de Beruete:

Sorolla's Working Method

"The execution of each work was preceded by a period of preparation in which, by means of several drawings or studies in color, whether of the whole or a detail, he tried to familiarize himself with the subject he wanted to represent with all the contrasts of light and color, with the proportions, form, and foreshortening of each figure and, finally, with the effects and the relationship of some tones with others.

Sorolla's Working Method

"Once he had penetrated into all this, he placed his models in the right position and in the time and the light which the painting called for and he started working, without hesitation or changes.

Sorolla's Working Method

"This is what gives his works painted out of doors their freshness, their spontaneity and their imponderable vigor of execution."

Quoted from the book  Joaquin Sorolla by Blanca Pons Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) on Wikipedia

The Animal Art of Caroline Clowes

A group of cattle in a pastoral setting looks up, as if alarmed. What is bothering them?

The answer is visible at the far right of the composition, where a train fills the quiet landscape with noise and smoke. 

The painting was a response to the addition of an east-west train line through Dutchess County, New York. 

Caroline Clowes lived from 1838-1904, a life nearly coinciding with another animal painter, Rosa Bonheur. 

This exhibitor pass was what you needed to get into one of her exhibitions.

Now there's a free exhibition of original art by Caroline Clowes on view at the Samuel Morse estate in Poughkeepsie, New York through December 30, 2022.

Here's a video with more information.

More on Wikipedia.

Should We Change What We See?

Should We Change What We See?
Pine, 1892, by Ivan Shishkin

It's an age-old question: Should you as a plein-air painter try to capture exactly what you see, or should you deliberately make changes? 

Ivan Shishkin said: "The main thing for a landscape painter is a diligent study of nature. Because of this, the picture from life must be without imagination." John Ruskin said that the student should: “Go to Nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thought but how best to penetrate her meaning, rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing.”

I don't think Shishkin is really dumping on imagination. Instead of the word "imagination," we might substitute "conventionalism" or "idealization." 

I sympathize with what Shishkin and Ruskin are advocating. There is a real joy and challenge for trying to capture exactly what's in front of you without changing or editing or "improving" it. Of course attempting to copy a scene from nature in all its color and detail is not really possible. You have to make choices and simplify something, because you can't capture it all. 

Back in the studio, armed with these studies, the artist can assemble the raw material of plein-air studies to create a virtual world of imagination.

I like having a lot of different conceptual approaches ready, like arrows in a quiver, when I head out. Sometimes when I'm on location I want to hold a mirror to nature. But other times I like to exaggerate, elaborate, or invent a fantastical scene while looking at nature.

Laloue's Dots and Lines

Eugène Galien-Laloue painted boulevards in Paris using gouache. 

Laloue's Dots and Lines
Eugène Galien-Laloue The Statue Of Étienne Marcel, Outside The Hôtel De Ville, Paris
Gouache, 7.5 x 11.12 inches (18.5 x 30.5 cm.)

His way of painting was relaxed but precise, alternating big shapes with small impressionistic dots and lines that suggest detail rather than delineating it.

Laloue's Dots and Lines

According to Wikipedia, "Galien-Laloue was in exclusive contract with one gallery and used other names: 'L.Dupuy', 'Juliany', 'E.Galiany', 'Lievin', 'G.L' 'Dumoutier' and 'P.Mattig'".

Lamplight Fantasies of Delphin Enjolras

Delphin Enjolras (French, 1857 –1945) did one thing, but he did it pretty well.

Lamplight Fantasies of Delphin Enjolras

He nearly always painted well dressed ladies in opulent interiors at eventide lit by electric light.

Lamplight Fantasies of Delphin Enjolras

Sometimes they're by themselves looking at a book, or sewing, or playing with a cat.

Lamplight Fantasies of Delphin Enjolras

Occasionally he'll place them on a balcony or a garden. But there's always that light. There must have been a ready market for these images of casual elegance and radiant illumination.

During his lifetime he witnessed the invention and adoption of electric light, which must have seemed magical, especially when the warm glow of the light was contrasted with the cool light of the sky.

Macchiaioli at the Caffè Michelangelo

Giovanni Boldini loved to paint his fellow artists at work. Here is Giovanni Fattori at work on a landscape painting.

Macchiaioli at the Caffè Michelangelo

Giovanni Boldini, Giovanni Fattori at the easel, 1866-67, Gallerie d'Italia, Milán.

Fattori was one of the founders of the movement of Italian plein-air painters known as the Macchiaioli. Like most art movements, this one grew out of a social setting, where artists could exchange ideas. Wikipedia puts it this way:  

"In the1850s Fattori began frequenting the Caffè Michelangiolo on via Larga, a popular gathering place for Florentine artists who carried on lively discussions of politics and new trends in art. Several of these artists would discover the work of the painters of the Barbizon school while visiting Paris for the Exposition of 1855, and would bring back to Italy an enthusiasm for the then-novel practice of painting outdoors, directly from nature." 

Macchiaioli at the Caffè Michelangelo
Macchiaioli at the Caffè Michelangiolo c. 1856

"In 1859 Fattori met Roman landscape painter Giovanni Costa, whose example influenced him to join his colleagues and take up painting realistic landscapes and scenes of contemporary life en plein air. This marked a turning point in Fattori's development: he became a member of the Macchiaioli, a group of Tuscan painters whose methods and aims are somewhat similar to those of the Impressionists, of which they are considered forerunners."

Boldini's Portrait of His Father

Giovanni Boldini was just 25 when he painted this portrait of his father Antonio.

Boldini's Portrait of His Father
Antonio Boldini by Giovanni Boldini, 1867

Giovanni grew up in an artistic family. His father was a painter of religious subjects Ferrara, Italy and his brother was an architect. Young Giovanni traveled to Florence, where he studied at the Academy. He befriended other realist painters in the school of Italian impressionistic realism known as the Macchiaioli.

There's a Boldini exhibition going on now in Paris until July 24th (Thanks, Peace)
Giovanni Boldini on Wikipedia.

Enrique Simonet

Enrique Simonet (Spanish 1866-1927) studied in Valencia, Málaga, Paris and Rome before traveling to the Holy Land. 

Enrique Simonet
Flevit super illam (He wept over it). 305 x 555 cm 1892 (Prado Museum)

There he was inspired to paint this monumental canvas of Jesus pausing before his final entry into Jerusalem.

"He painted this in Jerusalem, in response to Luke 19:41, in which Jesus approaches the city of Jerusalem. As he looks at the city, he weeps over it – hence the Latin words from the Vulgate – in anticipation of the city’s sufferings to come. This view is from the Mount of Olives, and won medals in Madrid (1892), Chicago (1893), Barcelona (1896), and in Paris in 1900." (Source)
Painting People in Rural FranceSorolla's Working MethodThe Animal Art of Caroline Clowes Should We Change What We See?Laloue's Dots and LinesLamplight Fantasies of Delphin EnjolrasMacchiaioli at the Caffè MichelangeloBoldini's Portrait of His FatherYuri PodlyaskiEnrique Simonet

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