Friday, May 31, 2013

YouTube Channel Trailer

(Direct link to video) YouTube has been bugging me to upgrade my channel's home page by adding a one-minute-or-less introductory video, so I finally got around to it.

Clicking the "Subscribe" button does a few things for you. If you want, you can tell YouTube to email you when new videos come out, or if you prefer, you can have them show up on your own YouTube channel page.

On my channel home page, I've curated the videos into some playlists, such as Book Trailers, Painting Dinosaurs, Do-It-Yourself Projects, DINOTOPIA, and Plein-Air Painting. You can see ALL the videos by clicking on the Videos button just to the right of the house icon.

Let me know if you like the user experience on the channel, and if you have any suggestions to improve it. What new videos would you like me to make? And let me know in the comments what other YouTube channels you like.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vosler Young Artists' Studio

What is the best age for young students to start a classical art education? And what should they be taught?

The Vosler Young Artists' Studio in Tampa, Florida provides an opportunity for students eighteen years and under to learn traditional skills. The program presents students with casts of geometric solids and human features, which the students accurately draw in charcoal. Loosely following the Charles Bargue and Jean-Léon Gérôme training method, they graduate to the clothed model and live animals or birds.

I met founder Kerry Vosler at the Portrait Society convention. Here are some quotes from the website:
"Michelangelo at age 13 apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio. Mary Cassatt began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia at the early age of 15. Cecelia Beaux started lessons with a relative, Catherine Ann Drinker at age 16."

"Great Artists, musicians, writers and athletes do not acquire their skills overnight. It takes years of study to gain insights and to understand the technical mastery of the craft for all of these endeavors. Talent is nice to have but not necessary to become an artist. Dedication and long term commitment is really what determines how successful the artist will become."

"Working on a series of exercises with increasing levels of difficulty and variety, artists progress at their own pace and do not move ahead to the next exercise until a reasonable level of technical mastery is demonstrated. Artists are critiqued individually by the instructor who utilizes objective criteria to judge their progress."

Kerry Vosler tells me that they are "working toward getting our sculpey clay and making some cool dinosaurs or monsters. Our students are really excited about this and this will help break up the typical drawing sessions."

Previously on GurneyJourney: 
Comics in the classroom (Andy Wales, primary school teacher)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Invasion? Have a beer!

Invasion? Air raids? Cities bombed? Have a beer!

This illustration by Harry Anderson appeared in a magazine ad in 1941. The ad copy reads: "In a world of strife, there's peace in beer. In these bewildering times, where can a man turn to replenish the wells of his repair the walls of his faith?"

The beer industry in America had some big setbacks from Prohibition through the outset of World War II, so brewing companies banded together to promote beer's benefits. The history is summarized in a Wikipedia article "Beer in the United States."

Thanks, Jim Pinkoski.

Plein-air painting and a very friendly cat

Last Sunday before the tree went down, Jeanette and I painted a street scene in Rhinecliff, New York.

(Video link) I'm using casein, an opaque milk-based paint popular with 1950s illustrators. Maybe it's the milk smell that attracts a friendly neighborhood cat, who hangs out with us during the 45 minutes of the painting session. 

In addition to attracting animals, casein has an advantage over oil for speed-painting architecture because the drying time allows you to accelerate all the steps. I call it "oil on adrenaline." Note that at 1:15, I spot in the windows with the brush and then glaze the shadow values transparently over them before coming in with opaques.
At 1:50, I state the two side windows and their shutters with one big stroke and then subdivide the smaller window details with opaque light strokes, all with the same half-inch flat brush. The flat brush handles just about everything from thin lines to big areas.

With the limited palette (raw sienna, Venetian red, cobalt blue, and titanium white), there's no way to mix strong greens. I restrict the gamut to a smaller blue-orange complementary scheme in order to emphasize warms against cools. No one will miss the greens.

Good news on the video front: I just updated my "James Gurney" YouTube page, so please check it out and subscribe so that you can get notified about new videos before anyone else. Also, I have finished the final edit on my first hour long instructional DVD / download. It's called "How I Paint Dinosaurs." It should be out in a month or so. It will be followed soon after by a second one called "Watercolor Workshop." I'll probably do a third hour-long video on casein after those two. All of my longer form videos go deep into process and materials, and show methods in real time with lots of info. 

By the way, here's what I'm using on this painting:
Jack Richeson / Shiva casein colors (raw sienna, Venetian red, cobalt blue, and titanium white)
Richeson's FAQ about casein
Moleskine watercolor notebook
Flat watercolor brush (1/2 inch)

And here's what I'm using to make the the video:
IKEA Kitchen Timer (for the slow rotation of the time lapse)

My book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painterhas more information about limited palettes 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tree Down

A dramatic thing happened during our walk on Sunday. As we waited to cross the highway, a huge tree right near us suddenly leaned, groaned, and fell onto the power lines. Its roots must have been loosened by the recent rains and wind.

 When its full weight hit the wires, there was a resounding boom and a bright flash just 100 feet from us. We ran to get out from under any falling wires, and then we dialed 911.

I had my art stuff with me so I drew the scene, pretending I was one of the old-time sketch-reporters like Everett Shinn, William Glackens, John Sloan, and F.R. Gruger.

It didn't take long for the fire department, the state troopers, and the power companies to come and block off the state highway.

The power was knocked out in our neighborhood for about five hours, so there was a spontaneous block party as we watched the crew fix the damage.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sergeant Tom Lovell, USMC

In 1944, illustrator Tom Lovell (1909-1997) joined the U.S. Marines with the hope that he would be assigned as a combat artist. He ended up serving for two years as a sergeant and staff artist for the Leatherneck Magazine, a publication of U.S. Marines.

Among the many paintings he did were historical reconstructions, such as General Quitman's 1847 entry into Mexico City with a battalion of Marines.
 ....and a charge of soldiers on horseback...

....and the U.S. Marines in action at the Battle Belleau Wood in June 1918.

Lovell painted the landing at the Battle of Tarawa (US code name Operation Galvanic) in the Gilbert Islands, in the Pacific Theater of World War Two. The original is in the USMC Marine Corps Combat Art Collection. 

Finally, Lovell recreated in paint the moment captured by Joe Rosenthal's famous photo at Iwo Jima. 
Book: The Art of Tom Lovell: An Invitation to History
The Wikipedia article for Lovell is just a stub. Would anyone care to write it? I'll help with info.
Sources: Tom Lovell papers at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City
Jones, Byron B., "Stories of Survival: Tom Lovell" Southwest Art. May 1983, p. 66-83)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Exhibition of vintage wedding dresses

Wedding dresses haven't always been white. They have come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. The idea that a wedding dress should be white—and worn only once—got started in the second half of the 19th century, thanks to Queen Victoria.

Here are two vintage dresses that I sketched in watercolor and water-soluble colored pencil. The dresses date from 1889 and 1895. Look at those leg o' mutton sleeves on that one on the right: that young lady has got some excellent attitude.

Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York is hosting an exhibition of about 20 original wedding dresses. The show is called "For Better and For Worse: Sixteen Decades of Wedding Wear at Vassar." It will be on view through June 9.
Tools: Schmincke Watercolor Pocket Set, Caran D'Ache watercolor pencils, Moleskine Watercolor Notebook.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Solomon's "Equipped"--A study or a fragment?

In the studio sale after his death, a painting by Solomon Solomon (1860-1927) called "A Page Buckling on Armour" came up for sale. It sold again at auction in 2003 with the new title, "Study for Equipped." 

The painting shows a young man attaching armor to the leg of a knight. Solomon was a French-trained Royal Academician known for his portraits and his mythological scenes, and this painting shows his characteristic attention to classical craftsmanship, with fine foreshortening of the face, and sensitive drawing in the hands.

Christies noted that the 36 x 24 inch painting was a study for the large (84 x 48 in.) painting called "Equipped" that Solomon exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1900.

At the same auction in 2003, a small watercolor study was also sold, evidently a preliminary sketch showing the whole composition. The page can be seen in context preparing the knight for battle, with his white horse in the shadows behind him. 
I was curious what the finished picture looked like, and found it in the book of the Royal Academy Pictures, 1900, plate 93 (left, below).

When you see the picture of the page next to the finished painting, it becomes clear that it's not a study at all, but a fragment, hacked out of the larger painting, which must now be lost. Presumably the surgery could have been conducted by the artist himself, or else it could have been done by someone else immediately following his death, but before the studio auction in 1928.

EDIT: I have added a file (below) with the page image overlaid semitransparently so you can see how the two images fit together. Note that the measurements (36 x 24 out of 84 x 48) line up too. I would guess Solomon or someone had a 36 x 24 frame to fill. A few people noticed some very slight differences, such as the position of the cape and the edge of the page's cap (light against the armor in one, and dark against the armor in another). I would suspect that this was the work of the artist touching up the fragment. But I suppose we'll never know for sure.

Book: "The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing," by Solomon SolomonIntroduction by James Gurney
Order Solomon's book "The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing" signed by James Gurney 
Book: Victorian Painting by Christopher Wood
Download the Royal Academy catalog of 1900
Solomon Solomon on Wikipedia

Friday, May 24, 2013

Norman Rockwell talks about Maxfield Parrish

What did Norman Rockwell (right) think of Maxfield Parrish (left)?

(Video link) Here's the man himself.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Famous artists paint Samson and Delilah

In 1949, ten members of the faculty of the Famous Artists School correspondence course were commissioned to paint their interpretation of Samson and Delilah, based on the 1949 Cecil B. DeMille production at Paramount.

The artists pictured include: (back row, from left to right) Harold von Schmidt, Norman Rockwell, Ben Stahl, Peter Helck, and Austin Briggs. (Front row): John Atherton, Al Parker, Al Dorne (on the ground, who apparently didn't contribute a painting), Steven Dohanos, Jon Whitcomb, and Robert Fawcett. 

Rockwell did a big painting of Samson pushing down the columns of the temple.

He shot reference of actor Victor Mature, and did the color study at right.

Austin Briggs showed Samson slaying a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.

Al Parker portrayed Delilah cutting the lock of Samson's hair, thus robbing him of power.

Austin Briggs (Edit: Jon Whitcomb) also showed a romantic scene, with Delilah looking the part of a regal but dangerous female.

Harold von Schmidt, known for his dramatic action illustrations, showed Samson wrestling with a lion.

Peter Helck illustrated Samson doing the ignoble work of grinding at the mill. To my knowledge this is the only one of the ten finished paintings that has surfaced. I wonder if anyone knows what became of the others.
Images courtesy the Famous Artists' and Norman Rockwell Museum Digital Collection. All Rights Reserved.

ImagineFX's Top 100 Artists Poll

ImagineFX magazine will publish its 100th issue this August. In seven years it has become the #1 magazine for the art of science fiction and fantasy.

To celebrate the occasion, the magazine is conducting a poll to pick a favorite from a list that it compiled of 100 top fantasy artists.

Anyone can vote by following this link.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of great artists that IFX inadvertently overlooked when they made up their list, such as Rebecca Guay, Robh Ruppel, Omar Rayyan, John Berkey, Alan Lee, Nathan Fowkes, Jeff Jones, James Bama, Paul Tobin, Petar Meseldzija, John Jude Palencar,  Peter de Seve, Jaime Jones, P. J. Lynch, Paul Lasaine, Scott Robertson, Michael Kaluta, William Stout, Al Williamson, Richard Corben, Leo and Diane Dillon, Travis Louie, Kirk Reinert, Francois Schuiten, Kinuko Kraft, Steve Hickman, Jordu Schell, Rick Berry, and Greg Broadmore to name just a few that come immediately to mind. No matter how large you make these lists, and how many people you have doing it, important names accidentally get left off.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New book on memory drawing

Much of the training in contemporary academic ateliers focuses on understanding and interpreting what you see in front of you. At the moment, there's a growing interest in supplementing those skills with the training of memory and imagination.

To fill that gap, academic painting instructor and painter Darren Rousar has written a much-needed new book called Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall.

On his website, Rousar says: "All drawing and painting from life is at some point done from memory, even if that memory is only seconds old. An artist’s ability to recall something previously seen is all the more important when their subject is no longer in view. Da Vinci, Corot, Degas, Whistler, and Inness wrote about it. In fact, Inness claimed that many of his best landscape paintings were done from memory."

Mr. Rousar's book approaches the subject from a variety of angles, starting with the history of how it has been taught in the past, including the notable contributions of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. The focus then turns to the science of memory and perception. Then the book analyzes the process involved in seeing and remembering.

The slim and inexpensive 140-page softcover book includes many black and white illustrations with specific exercises involving line, shape, and value. The book ends with valuable appendices by Père Lecoq and Harold Speed, and a glossary. The book is thoughtfully and clearly written, and will benefit both teachers and students interested in improving their powers of memory.
Book: Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall by Darren Rousar
Free digital book of the French classic "The Training of Memory in Art and the Education of the Artist" by Père Lecoq
Website: Memory Drawing
Previously on GurneyJourney:
Memory Game with Maps
Drawing from Memory
Remembering a Face