Gurney Journey | category: Watercolor Painting | (page 4 of 35)


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 While Facing the Light

How can you capture light in a painting while facing toward the light? I've got a new video that you can watch here or on YouTube.

The technique uses watercolor, gouache, and pastel over a casein priming to capture the feeling of objects against a bright sky. I also discuss whether it ‘breaks the rules’ to combine gouache, watercolor and other mixed media.
Should Watercolors Be Purely Transparent?
Contre Jour Lighting
Light Spill

How to Start a Watercolor

How should you start a watercolor? There are many ways, but this time I start loose, knowing I can use gouache to make corrections and paint my white accents.

After a colored pencil lay-in, I lightly establish the local color, then the background tones, and finally I use white gouache to sharpen edges and paint the lighter values.

(Link to Video on YouTube) Here are the watercolor pigments I'm using:
Raw sienna
Lemon yellow
Cadmium red 
Transparent red oxide
Alizarin crimson
Anthraquinone blue
Titanium white (gouache)

Other ways to start a watercolor (YouTube links):
Detailed, transparent only
Urban streetscape with fountain pen
Watercolor and colored pencils

The Red Eye from Newark

Sunset at Newark airport. Our red-eye flight has boarded. Floodlights shine on the fuselages of the airliners.

The painting is just 2 x 3.5 inches, the size of a business card. I like that size for a quick color thumbnail study.

Some questions from Instagram:
sarahstergiotis I‘m wondering how much time you had to complete the painting before the plane took off?
I had about 20 minutes before pushback, when I had to fold up the tray table. I painted a little more on it later from memory.

annscottpaintings What the heck is that pen you are using? I want some!
It's a gel pen: Gelly Roll Sakura Number 10

hermiispainting Which colours do you use? How are they packed to manage them while travelling? I pulled out five colors. I keep them in a little sandwich bag inside my carry-on belt pouch.
1. Prussian blue (gouache)
2. Titanium white (gouache)
3. Yellow ochre (watercolor)
4. Pyrrol red (gouache)
5. Alizarin crimson (watercolor)

scottzan@jamesgurneyart What kind of brushes do you use for sketching?
These are synthetic round brushes—the Jack Richeson Series 7130 #8 and #4, which are part of a travel set that works for gouache, watercolor, and casein. I also sometimes use really cheap brushes from big-box craft stores.

nmsgwatercolors Would you mind saying what kind of paper are you using?
It's a Pentalic watercolor sketchbook, which has "European milled, 140 lb. (300 gsm) acid free paper" sized for watercolor.
There's a link-filled list of all of my sketching materials at this Google Doc.

Edwin John Alexander

Edwin John Alexander

Edwin John Alexander (1870-1926) was a Scottish artist who portrayed animals and plants in an elegant style that emphasized composition and subtle color. 

Edwin John Alexander
A Turlum Stag by Edwin John Alexander (1903)
Dundee Art Gallery and Museum, oil on canvas
As a boy he accompanied his father to North Africa, and spent four years living on a houseboat on the Nile.

Edwin John Alexander

Many of his paintings, such as these yellow daisies, were created with watercolor and gouache on tinted paper.

Edwin John Alexander

It appears that he often drew with a brush, defining forms with sparing touches and separating them with delicate, milky washes.

Edwin John Alexander

Alexander was inspired by Joseph Crawhall and by Japanese prints. 

Edwin John Alexander
Edwin John Alexander, wildflower, 1900,
watercolor, 20 x 10.5 cm. (7.9 x 4.1 in.)
There are online portfolios of Alexander's paintings on Artnet and on Athenaeum. He co-illustrated a book on Wild Flowers in 1912.

Painting a Supermarket Entrance

I have painted around this supermarket many times, and I keep discovering new views of it. On a rainy day, I notice how the warm inside lights contrast with the cool light outdoors.

I have to push the painting through the “ugly stage” by having faith in the process. 

The palette of colors is very simple: White gouacheYellow ochre (watercolor), Transparent red oxide (watercolor), and Ultramarine blue (gouache)

In the choice of subjects, I am inspired by French philosopher Emile Zola, who encouraged artists to paint commonplace subjects from our own era. 

He said: “The past was but the cemetery of our illusions: one simply stubbed one's toes on the gravestones.” (Le passé n'était que le cimetière de nos illusions, on s'y brisait les pieds contre des tombes.)

Zola also said: "A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament” (Une oeuvre d'art est un coin de la création vu à travers un tempérament).

Somehow, by interpreting a subject that isn't often painted, it opens the doors to appreciating our world anew.

How Turner Painted in Watercolor

How Turner Painted in Watercolor
Sketchbook pages by J.M.W. Turner
John Ruskin said this about J.M.W. Turner's method of painting in watercolor:
"The large early [watercolor]-drawings of Turner were sponged without friction, or were finished piece by piece on white paper; as he advanced he laid the chief masses first in broad tints, never effacing anything, but working the details over these broad tints. While still wet, he brought out the soft lights with the point of a brush, the brighter ones with the end of a stick; often, too, driving the wet colour in a darker line to the edge of the light, in order to represent the outlines of hills."
How Turner Painted in Watercolor
J. M. W. Turner, "Red Rigi," 12 x 18 in. 1847, National Gallery Victoria
 "His touches were all clear, firm, unalterable, one over the other: friction he used only now and then, to represent the grit of stone or the fretted pile of moss; the finer lights he often left from the first, even the minutest light, working round and up to them, not taking them out as weaker men would have done".
Quote by John Ruskin, c. 1850's; as cited in The Life of J. M. W. Turner R.A. , Walter Thornbury - A new Edition, Revised
More about Turner's watercolor technique on Handprint website

Miyazaki: Digging into the Subconscious

Miyazaki: Digging into the Subconscious
Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
Animation director Hayao Miyazaki said: “I try to dig deep into the well of my subconscious."

Miyazaki: Digging into the Subconscious
Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
"...At a certain moment in that process, the lid is opened and very different ideas and visions are liberated. With those I can start making a film.”

Miyazaki: Digging into the Subconscious
Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
"But maybe it's better that you don't open that lid completely, because if you release your subconscious it becomes really hard to live a social or family life.”

Miyazaki: Digging into the Subconscious
Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
"You must see with eyes unclouded by hate. See the good in that which is evil, and the evil in that which is good. Pledge yourself to neither side, but vow instead to preserve the balance that exists between the two.”
Books about Miyazaki's Philosophy and Art:

Getting an Oil Change, So Let's PaintPainting While Facing the LightHow to Start a WatercolorThe Red Eye from NewarkEdwin John AlexanderPainting a Supermarket EntrancePainting at Dublin's Dead ZooHow Turner Painted in WatercolorMerrion SquareMiyazaki: Digging into the Subconscious

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