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Gurney Journey | category: Watercolor Painting | (page 2 of 35)

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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

Why Paint a Tiny Watercolor?

Why Paint a Tiny Watercolor?
Why Paint a Tiny Watercolor?

Here's a pocket vista of Baltimore in a tiny book (3.5 x 5.5 inches).
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Why paint small?
1. More portable.
2. Less expensive.
3. Less obtrusive.
4. Faster, more convenient.
5. Overcome inhibitions.
6. Try new technique or subject.
7. In good company (Turner, Rembrandt)
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Painting big is fun, too. It's nice to switch it up.
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Moleskine Watercolor Album (3.5" x 5.5"), 60 Pages 

Painting Forsythia Flowers


I paint the flowers of a forsythia shrub using a limited palette of watercolor and gouache. I show how to start by capturing the overall gesture and silhouette of the whole plant and then subdivide the mass into smaller shapes.

Achenbach's Snowy Forest


Andreas Achenbach (German, 1815 - 1910) painted this watercolor of a rune stone in a clearing of a northern pine forest in winter. 

Achenbach's Snowy Forest
Andreas Achenbach, Snowy Forest, watercolor, 1835, 
Google Art Project, Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Stones with carved runes date back to the times of the ancient shamans in Germany. 

According to Google Art project, the painting is huge: 14 x 20 feet (625cm x 423 cm). If that's true, perhaps it's not surprising, as the Düsseldorf painters often painted theatrical backdrops. 

The painting evokes romantic associations of the human touch in the wilds of nature.

Achenbach's Snowy Forest

Here's a detail showing a fallen tree and a young sapling. The original painting has a subtle balance of warm and cool colors and there are touches of opaque white gouache on the tips of the branches.

Achenbach's Snowy Forest
Wilhelm von Abbema, German, 1812 - 1889, based on the original 
by Andreas Achenbach. Published by Julius Buddeus, Düsseldorf.
Philadelphia Museum, Plate: 20 7/8 x 28 5/8 inches (53.1 x 72.7 cm) 
Sheet: 23 7/16 x 30 7/8 inches (59.6 x 78.5

Achenbach's Snowy Forest
The painting was made into an etching by Wilhelm von Abbema. 

Book:
Landscapes by Andreas Achenbach / Fritz von Wille

Zorn's 'Breakfast in the Garden'

Anders Zorn (Swedish) painted the dealer Adolf Magnus in the model's garden.

Zorn's 'Breakfast in the Garden'
Anders Zorn ”Frukost i det gröna” (Breakfast in the garden, 1886 /
Wholesale dealer Adolf Magnus) Watercolour 38 x 56 cm.

I like to imagine Zorn telling his friend, "Keep talking," and getting out his watercolor box to start painting as they picked at the remnants of the morning meal.

Zorn's 'Breakfast in the Garden'

Mr. Magnus would stop to puff on his cigar or to make a gesture, and return his hand to rest on his leg.

Zorn's 'Breakfast in the Garden'

His eyes and mouth are full of animation and movement.

Zorn's 'Breakfast in the Garden'

The breakfast table is indicated with a few well placed strokes of watercolor, with some white gouache for the silver and glass vessels in the back.
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Thanks to Sascha Karschner and Bukowski's Auction

Irving Wiles

Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948) painted this reclining woman in 1895 using watercolor, graphite, and gouache on paper. The size is 22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm). 

Irving Wiles
Irving Wiles, The Green Cushion

Her mood a bit of a mystery. The needlepoint pillow conceals half her face, and she lies languidly on the Empire revival-style recamier couch.

The painting is called "The Green Cushion." He could have called it "Reclining Woman" or "Melancholy." The title signals that color is a factor, and indeed the green patch behind the woman sets off the pearlescent tones of her skin.  

Irving Wiles

The painting, which won a prize at the American Watercolor Society's 1897 exhibition, is a feast of edges, contrasts, and accents, bringing to life the velvet cushions and silk dress. In addition to being an illustrator, he was a popular portrait painter. 
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Website with more about Irving Ramsey Wiles 
Wikipedia about Irving Ramsey Wiles


Painting a Frog and Wondering about Umwelt


In this new video, I paint a green frog from life. I'll need him to hold still over an hour. Will he do it? 

I consider the question of the frog’s Umwelt or its particular viewpoint of its environment, and I pose the philosophical question of whether we can ever understand the subjective experience or the cognitive ability of any animal, given that it lives in a very different perceptual environment.
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Unfinished Portrait of Roosevelt

Elizabeth Shoumatoff started working on her watercolor portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt at about noon on April 12, 1945. 


During lunch, the President complained that he had "a terrific pain in the back of my head" and he slumped forward unconscious. FDR died later that day of a stroke. The painting was never finished.


Hank Green includes this story in a thoughtful video about what unfinished paintings can show us about their creators and subjects.
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Seascape Sketchbook of William Trost Richards

William Trost Richards (American, 1833-1905) filled this sketchbook with remarkably detailed watercolor studies of English coastal scenery. 

Seascape Sketchbook of William Trost Richards

The medium is graphite and watercolor on beige, medium thick, smooth wove paper, 5 1/4 x 7 3/8 in. (13.3 x 18.7 cm). 

Seascape Sketchbook of William Trost Richards
The Brooklyn Museum, which owns this sketchbook, says: 

"Richards was a prolific artist who, as a leading member of the American Pre-Raphaelites, embraced the Ruskinian principle of truth to nature. Sketching outdoors played a significant role in his quest for accuracy of representation. Throughout his long career and extensive travels, he seems to have always carried a sketchbook with him, filling the pages with drawings of the places he encountered. The Brooklyn Museum owns more than twenty-five of Richards’s sketchbooks, including the ones on view here. Serving as pictorial diaries of his journeys, they also demonstrate the variety of his working methods, ranging from quickly rendered outlines to carefully modulated tonal compositions to finished color studies."

Frederick Walker's 'Old Farm Garden.'

Frederick Walker (1840-1875) started learning to draw by copying prints in pen and ink, and he studied in the British Museum. Later he studied at the Royal Academy and worked as an illustrator.

Frederick Walker's 'Old Farm Garden.'
‘The Old Farm Garden (1871) by Frederick Walker (British 1840-1875)
Watercolour and Gouache, 30.2 × 40.6 cm (11.8 × 15.9 in)

He painted in oil and in watercolor/gouache. In this example, a solitary woman in a patterned dress knits in a backyard garden, her cat about to pounce on her ball of yarn.  

Note the brickwork, the lilacs and tulips, and the tiny weathervane on the barn. 

Frederick Walker's 'Old Farm Garden.'

The detail above is only about eight inches wide, showing the precision and delicacy that's possible with gouache.  

Frederick Walker died of tuberculosis in 1875, at a mere 35 years old.
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The painting is in the collection of the Courtlauld Institute, London.

Godfrey Vigne: Saved by a Sketchbook

Godfrey T. Vigne (1801-1863) was a wealthy lawyer who happened to be an artist as well. He resolved to travel to the dangerous territories in the western Himalaya, entering Kashmir, Ladakh, with forays into Tibet and Afghanistan. All these regions were little known to Westerners in those days. 

Accompanying him was another intrepid explorer Alexander Burnes of Scotland. 

Godfrey Vigne: Saved by a Sketchbook
The Kuzzelbash of Kabul, Watercolour, Afghanistan, 1836, 
Pencil, pen and ink, and watercolour, Victoria and Albert Museum


"Vigne got himself out of tight spots by drawing pictures, usually for alarmed villagers or angry chieftains, who would swing from 'fury to a chuckle' on seeing their faces rendered in watercolour. 'I put them in good humor by scratching off two or three caricature portraits, and distributing a little medicine.' As war brewed, Vigne escaped unnoticed; the flamboyant Burnes was later cut to pieces by an angry mob."
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Godfrey T. Vigne on Wikipedia

Why Paint a Tiny Watercolor?Painting Forsythia FlowersAchenbach's Snowy ForestZorn's 'Breakfast in the Garden'Irving WilesPainting a Frog and Wondering about UmweltUnfinished Portrait of RooseveltSeascape Sketchbook of William Trost RichardsFrederick Walker's 'Old Farm Garden.'Godfrey Vigne: Saved by a Sketchbook

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