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Gurney Journey | category: Gouache | (page 23 of 23)

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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.

gurneyjourney.blogspot.com

Banana Demo

Yesterday I painted a half-hour still life demo in gouache for the Painting 1 class at Texas A and M, where I'm here this week as artist in residence. 

Banana Demo
James Gurney at Texas A&M, photo courtesy Felice House
The subject is a banana sitting on a red piece of paper. Painting a high chroma object strongly lit against a high intensity background is the same assignment that the students have done earlier. So they get to see me wrestling with the same issues that they have faced. 


Banana Demo

Every color that we see is a combination of the color of the light and the actual color of the surface (or "local color"). In this case, the down-facing planes in shadow are receiving reflected light from the red paper, shifting those color planes toward orange. 

As the top planes turn toward shadow near each end of the banana, they catch the blue window light, which mixes with yellow to make green. 

Banana Demo

I make an effort to vary the edges around the form from soft to hard to soft. Nearly the whole painting is done with 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch flat brushes. I turn the brushes edge-on for the thin lines, and use the corner of the brush for the dots.

Banana Demo
Painting by James Gurney. Photo by Felice House
Gouache colors include: white, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and cobalt blue.

These are the only colors I have on the trip. Traveling with carry-on luggage means cutting back the colors so that they fit in the 3-1-1 TSA bags.

The palette surface is a metal pencil box primed and then painted white with enamel spray paint. The palette is held to my lightweight sketch easel with Neodymium magnets.

Banana Demo
The students ask great questions throughout the session. Many of them are using what they're learning from these painting exercises to inform them in their 3D digital lighting projects.

Seated to my right is the professor of the class, Felice House. She says that the assignment "The Banana on Red" is a teaching project that originated with her first painting teacher at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, named Sheila Provazza.  

Banana Demo
Whew! After that it's time for lunch and art talk with some of my student pals from the Department of Visualization. This week is going so fast for me and Jeanette and we're having a blast. 

If you can, please come on by College Station tonight for my Dinotopia lecture. I'll be glad to meet you or sign whatever books you bring afterward. 

Painting from Taxidermy

At the SKB Foundation Workshop in Dubois, Wyoming, most of the painting practice involves landscape painting outdoors, or wildlife painting from photographs indoors. 

Painting from Taxidermy
I thought it would also be a helpful exercise for everyone to paint real, three dimensional animals from observation, but living models weren't available on short notice.

So we arranged to borrow a fine specimen of coyote, a pronghorn antelope, and a wolf from local taxidermy artist Lynn Stewart, who very generously brought them over to the art center.

Painting from Taxidermy
This was my view of a running white wolf. I liked the pose, but I imagined it backlit against the bold fall colors of the quaking aspens, with sagebrush in the foreground, as I remembered the setting from a horseback ride in the morning.

Painting from Taxidermy

Here's the two hour gouache demo I did  with that idea in mind.

It would have been even better to do a location study separately outdoors and combine it with the taxidermy study, properly lit -- or to take the taxidermy outside into a natural setting. The idea is to put away the camera and see if there's a way to do a wildlife study as much as possible from life and imagination.

Painting from Taxidermy
On the other side of the room, John Seerey-Lester did this magnificent acrylic study of the same wolf. He chose to set it within a snowy winter backdrop. 

That's John and his wife Suzie (pink hat) in the right foreground of the photo below. They are featured in the current issue of International Artist magazine, not only for their wildlife art, but also for their landscapes and nostalgia scenes.

Painting from Taxidermy
It was a marvelous experience for all of us to paint together with a combination of imagination and observation.
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Links:
John and Suzie Seerey-Lester's website
Stewart Taxidermy, Dubois, Wyoming
SKB Foundation Workshop

School Bus

Yesterday the high school in Dubois, Wyoming sent a group of their art students out to join us on a ranch to learn plein-air painting. They were mentored by the scholarship students attending the SKB Foundation Workshop here.


Most people were painting old wagons or log cabins or picturesque bends in the stream, but I decided to paint the school bus. I love school buses. This is a beautiful brand new vehicle, built in January of 2014. 

I used a ruler to get those windows straight in my little gouache painting. Press the "play" button below for a quick audio greeting from the driver.

(Link to the voice of the driver) To me, the bus represents the pride of this town and their dedication to getting young people excited about art. That's what the day was all about, as far as I was concerned. 

I made friends with the bus driver when I asked her to help me get one of my paint tube caps unstuck. She brought out a pliers, saying, "We western women have a whole tool kit in our purse."
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Read about the SKB Foundation Workshop, a unique week-long gathering of landscape and wildlife painters.
If you're a young artist who wants to be a part of this, check out the SKB scholarship program.


Product Review: Travel Brush Set

Product Review: Travel Brush Set
Yesterday I did a painting using the Richeson Travel Brush Set, a collection of short handled brushes that come in their own stiff protective case.

The case opens to display the brushes while you're working. Each brush tucks into its own elastic holding strap. I like to drape the case over the left page of the sketchbook while I'm working. Turned inside out, the case can also set up on the ground like the letter A, with the cord holding it open at the desired angle. When it's closed up in travel mode, a magnet clasp secures it.

Product Review: Travel Brush Set

Here's the painting I did with those brushes, using gouache (opaque watercolor). I thoroughly documented the making of the painting on video, and it will be one segment of the next DVD/download called "Gouache in the Wild."

Product Review: Travel Brush Set

The brush set includes four rounds (sizes 2, 4, 6, and 8) and three flats (sizes 1/4", 1/2" and 3/4"). The combination of brush sizes gave me everything I needed, even for the fine details of the neon supports and wires. The close-up detail above is about an inch and a half square.

Product Review: Travel Brush Set
I have used the brushes for several paintings now, and I've tried them with watercolor, gouache, and casein.

They're are all made of synthetic fibers, which is what you want for casein especially (the ammonia in casein is hard on brushes). The flats don't hold as much liquid as an equivalently sized sable brush. These are more chisels than mops. They have just the right amount of spring, and so far, they have held their points and edges.

You can get the Richeson Travel Brush Set from a variety of art suppliers, including Daniel Smith, Cheap Joe's, and Dick Blick. 

The set of seven brushes, complete with their case, retail for $79.95, but on Amazon the set is discounted to $38, which is an amazing deal. 

Portable Boiler

Portable Boiler
We spent Monday morning at the South Park City historical museum in Fairplay, Colorado, a place where Jeanette and I sketched over 30 years ago.

I liked the Steampunk spirit of rust, rivets, and spokes of this portable boiler, used by 19th century miners to operate the rock crushing machines.

Portable Boiler
I painted the study in gouache, with a few accents of colored pencil and fountain pen. Gouache is well suited to this sort of detailed study of a machine, because of the way you can paint light details over dark.

The dried paint surface of gouache also accepts touches from the water-soluble colored pencils, where casein doesn't so well.
Banana DemoSchool Bus: Step-By-Step in GouachePainting from TaxidermySchool BusProduct Review: Travel Brush SetPortable BoilerOverpass, Colby Kansas

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