Gurney Journey | category: Watercolor Painting


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.

Woods in Winter, Watercolor

Konstantin Kryzhitsky was one of the founders of the Society of Russian Watercolorists in 1880.

Woods in Winter, Watercolor

Konstantin Kryzhitsky (1858-1911) Gathering Branches in Winter, signed in Cyrillic and dated 'K. Kryzhitsky 1903.' 
(watercolor and gouache on paper 13¾ x 18½ in. (34.9 x 47 cm.)

 In this forest landscape, he uses blobs of white gouache for the active shapes of the snow on evergreen fronds and for the distant sky holes. Most of the tree trunks however are handled with transparent paint.

Woods in Winter, Watercolor

Is Opera Rose Fugitive?

Is the pigment called opera rose lightfast or fugitive? I had always heard it was extremely fugitive, but experts don't agree. 

Opera rose is a quinacridone pigment defined as PR122. According to the authoritative website Handprint, it's very reliable. In fact Handprint rates it as a "Top 40" pigment. They say: "after 800+ hours of sunlight exposure, the samples show no fading or discoloration."

Here's how they explain it:

"Quinacridone magenta PR122 is a lightfast, semitransparent, staining, dark valued, intense violet red pigment, offered by more than 20 pigment manufacturers worldwide. The ASTM (in technical report D5067-99) rates the lightfastness of PR122 in watercolors as "fair" (III, "may be satisfactory when used full strength or with extra protection from exposure to light"), but other manufacturer and independent tests rate it higher. My 2004 lightfastness tests of the nine paint brands listed above, which show color variations that suggest several different pigment particle sizes or pigment suppliers, revealed very little or no color degradation, after 800+ hours of direct sunlight exposure, in both heavy and diluted applications. This puts the pigment solidly in the "excellent" (I) category (BWS 7+)."

"For context, compare these samples to naphthol red (PR170), a pigment with a well established "very good (II)" rating, or with quinacridone rose (PV19), which is considered to have "excellent (I)" lightfastness. This is such a glaring discrepancy that the ASTM test must be flawed or unrepresentative in some way. Because Michael Wilcox relies on the ASTM documents for his pigment ratings, he has been critical of this pigment without any corroborating evidence of its fallability. I suggest you do your own lightfastness test on PR122 paints until a consensus emerges, but at present I see absolutely no reason to avoid this splendid pigment." 

I haven't tried it yet in a controlled fade test, but I've used the color in a painting. You can watch the whole 12 minute YouTube video here.

Zorn and the Rain Storm

American painter Edward Simmons (1852-1931) was an eyewitness to how Anders Zorn painted in watercolor:

"Zorn was one of those artists who are always showing much originality in the use of their materials and combining this with a sense of humor, which often produces fine results. I went into his back yard one day, and he had a six-foot water color leaning against the house, and was throwing pails of water on it—“bringing it together.” 

Zorn and the Rain Storm
Anders Zorn, Fish Market in St. Ives, watercolor and gouache, 100 x 76cm, 1888

"He had a great success at the Grosvenor Gallery with a picture of boats, sails, masts, and the seashore sand, with a fat fish-wife walking toward one. (In those days he thought the only beautiful women
were fat ones.) He laid this on a box hedge in the garden when a thunderstorm came up. We all rushed out and it seemed to me ruined."

Zorn and the Rain Storm
Anders Zorn, Fish Market in St. Ives, detail

"'Now I can make a fine picture,' he said. He painted out the smudges from the sails and fixed the dirty sky, but in the foreground, in the sands, were large spots of raindrops. These he turned into footprints, and their naturalness has been commented upon more than once."
From Seven to Seventy, a memoir by Edward Simmons (1852-1931)

Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter

American architect Cass Gilbert (1854-1934) designed the Minnesota State Capitol and the Woolworth building. 

Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter

An early proponent of skyscrapers, he was president of the American Institute of Architects during the optimistic years of 1908-9.

Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter

He was also a devoted plein-air watercolorist, deriving inspiration from old-world cathedrals and castles.

Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter

Whenever he traveled he brought a set of watercolors with him, and allowed time to capture scenes that inspired him.

Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter

His architectural studies demonstrate careful observation and a subtle sense of color.

Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter
Cass Gilbert, Arch of Titus, 1933

Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter

Book: Cass Gilbert, Life and Work: Architect of the Public Domain
 Cass Gilbert, Architect and Painter

Turner's Small Watercolor Kits

Turner's Small Watercolor Kits

J.M.W. Turner's super-portable watercolor set consisted of a small set of cake colors in a leather pocket pouch.

Turner's Small Watercolor Kits

He also had slightly larger sets with flasks. This is his paintbox, found in his studio after his death in 1851

(Tate Archive 7315.6)

To learn more about 19th century watercolor sets, check out the website or the Tate Archive

A Cottage GardenWoods in Winter, Watercolor Is Opera Rose Fugitive?To Convey Drama, Use ContrastsZorn and the Rain StormCass Gilbert, Architect and PainterTurner's Small Watercolor KitsPleissner Paints a Painting PartnerPainting a Blue Cup of Ice WaterThree Artists Paint Cole's Studio

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