Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Joy Ride in a Paint Box


After leading the Allies to victory in World War II, Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) became an ardent outdoor painter. Never has painting had such an enthusiastic and eloquent champion.

"Painting is a companion with whom one may walk a great part of life's journey."

"When I die and go to heaven, I want to spend the first million years painting – so I can get to the bottom of the subject."

"We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint box. And, for this, Audacity is the only ticket."

"Painting is the same kind of problem as unfolding a long, sustained interlocked argument... It is a proposition commanded by a single unity of conception."

"Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse."




"Armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose ends, one cannot 'have several days on one's hands.'"

"Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen. They pass out into shadow and darkness. All one’s mental light, such as it is, becomes concentrated on the task. Time stands respectfully aside, and it is only after many hesitations that luncheon knocks gruffly at the door."
----
Most of these quotes are from Churchill's slim but inspiring book Painting As a Pastime, and many of them can be found on the website Art Quotes

Prehistoric Times Reviews "Tyrannosaurs"

Prehistoric Times, the magazine of all things dinosaurian, reviewed my recent tutorial video Tyrannosaurs: Behind the Art. 


"Jim's new video tutorial gives you front row seats at the creation of two Tyrannosaur paintings for Scientific American magazine, including one. Super talented illustrator James Gurney fully explains his process as he reconstructs two recently discovered relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex, as if you were sitting right there with him. Working closely with scientist Stephen Brusatte, who discovered one of them, he shows his process including thumbnails and color comprehensives. He shows how he uses photos and models, as well as outdoor studies, as he moves ahead to the final oil illustration."

"He explains both his methods and his thinking with an emphasis on the techniques for portraying feather and foliage textures, thereby creating a believable reconstruction of a scene that is imagined based on scientific evidence. Jim Gurney shows how he chooses his colors, what brushes he uses at each stage, and how he prepares his board for painting. The production is packed with information that will fascinate dinosaur artists as well as all other artists. I promise you will be most impressed."

—Mike Fredericks, editor, Prehistoric Times
-----
Available as an HD download from Gumroad (credit cards) or Sellfy (Paypal).
and as a DVD from the manufacturer Kunaki, or on Amazon.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pinterest

Do you do Pinterest? If so you might want to check out my Pinboards on Gouache and Casein painting.

Co-op Truck

"Co-op Truck," black and white gouache, 5 x 8 inches.
I have a half hour while they unload the food co-op truck, so I set up my sketchbook on a garbage can. The driver waits in the shade, leaning against the truck.


The preliminary drawing has accurate measurements, but it is very rough and incomplete, just a map of the big shapes.


I lay a light wash over most of the scene (lighter than it appears here), using some warm and cool colors from my watercolor set. This is to lower the tone just a bit from white so that I can come back up to white with the gouache.

I begin to define the dark values. I want to push the values to very light and very dark, not too many middle tones.


The driver comes over to take a picture of the sketch with his cell phone.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Embodied Cognition

Embodied cognition is an emerging idea in neuroscience which explores the connection between the mind and the body.

Contrary to the older view dating back to Descartes that the mind and body occupy separate realms, and that aesthetic activity is a largely disembodied experience, embodied cognition holds that the body is not only intimately connected to brain activity, but that it plays a strong role in shaping it.

Tom Lovell, 1949 illustration for Redbook, courtesy Jim Pinkoski 
The implications for practicing artists are profound. Recent studies have shown that the act of observing a painting of people participating in an action engages mirror neurons in our own brains. That activity in turn is greatly influenced by similar experiences that we have had.

"Performing an action requires the information to flow out from the control centers to the limbs. But observing the action requires the information to flow inward from the image you're seeing into the control centers," says science writer Kat Zambon. "So that bidirectional flow is what's captured in this concept of mirror neurons and it gives the extra vividness to this aesthetics of art appreciation."

The act of drawing or painting engages the brain in even deeper ways. Lora Likova, PhD, of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, is working on art-based interventions with blindfolded and sight-impaired subjects to better understand the integrative process between the body, the mind, and the perceptual system. 

She says that drawing is “an amazing process that requires precise orchestration of multiple brain mechanisms, perceptual processing, memory, precise motor planning and motor control, spatial transformations, emotions, and other diverse cognitive functions.”

It's no wonder then that talking while drawing requires such mental effort—unless a person is practiced enough at it that the neural pathways have had time to develop in the more automatic centers of the brain.
Auditory mirror neurons
This is true not only for artists but for musicians. Appreciating the art of another artist practitioner engages our brains in deeper ways, especially if you are an experienced practitioner. 

My son is an accordion player, and I've noticed that when he listens to another accordionist playing, my son's fingers are twitching slightly.
Previously on GurneyJourney: Brain Scans of Artists While Drawing
Irish Music from the Hudson Valley by Dylan Foley and Dan Gurney

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Painting Challenge: Outdoor Market

Eugene Galien Laloue (1854 - 1941) Paris, le marché aux fleurs 
Gouache on board, 8 1/4 x 13 1/4 inches
We had such an enthusiastic response to our last Gouache Challenge that many of you asked for another opportunity.

I hesitate to call it a "contest" because there's no entry fee and the spirit is more about cooperation, community, and camaraderie than competition. We're all at different levels of skill and experience, but we're all out there braving the elements and trying out new painting ideas.

Helen Allingham Market Stall in Venice, watercolor
The August Challenge
Paint an outdoor market on location with a limited palette of opaque water media. The limited palette is just three colors of your choice plus white.

Norman Price, Eastern European Market, gouache
What kinds of outdoor markets?
Any outdoor place where people are selling things: fruit or flower markets, farmers' markets, roadside stands, craft fairs, flea markets, yard sales, swap meets, sidewalk sales, fish markets, Chinese wet markets, Latin-American mercados, and Arab souks.

On Location
It must be painted on location and it must be a new painting done for this challenge. In addition to a scan of the final painting, your entry must include a photo of your painting in progress in front of the motif.

Alfred Glendening Parisienne Flower Market
Paints
Any of the opaque water media are acceptable: casein, gouache, Acryla-gouache, or acrylic. Sorry, for this challenge there's no oil and no dry media. You can combine with transparent watercolor and watercolor pencils as long as they're the same colors, but there should be at least some opaque passages. 

The Limited Palette
The reason for the limited palette is to keep your painting harmonious, which can be difficult with such a kaleidoscopic subject.

Here are some suggestions, giving equal time to different companies: 
Holbein gouache: Viridian, Cadmium red deep, and Yellow ochre plus white
M. Graham gouache: Ultramarine blueCadmium yellow deep, and Burnt umber plus white
Winsor and Newton gouache: Perylene maroon, Cadmium yellow, Cobalt blue plus white
Richeson casein: Cobalt blue, Light red, Golden ochre, and white
Feel free to come up with your own, you don't have to follow these suggestions.

Deadline
It's free to enter. You can enter as soon as you finish the piece, but no later than the deadline: Monday, August 31 at midnight New York time. Winners will be announced on Wednesday September 2. 

Edward Seago, Moroccan souk
What and How to Enter
Just shoot two image files: 1. Your finished painting and 2. A photo of the painting on the easel in front of the subject. Your face doesn't have to be in the photo unless you want to.

Upload the images this Facebook Event page (This way I don't have to deal with email, and you get to present your images your way). If you don't have a Facebook account, please ask a friend with an account to help you. Please include in the FB post the list of the three colors you chose (plus white), and if you want, a word about your inspiration or design strategy, or an anecdote about your painting experience. 

Prizes
I'll pick one Grand Prize, three Finalists, and six Honorable Mentions. Those 10 will be published on GurneyJourney. The Grand Prize winner and Finalists will receive an exclusive "Department of Art" embroidered patch. In addition, the Grand Prize winner receives a video (DVD or download) of their choice. Everybody who participates will have their work on the Facebook page, too.
-----
Own the 72-minute feature "Gouache in the Wild"
• HD MP4 Download at Gumroad $14.95
• or HD MP4 Download at Sellfy (for Paypal customers) $14.95
• DVD at Purchase at Kunaki.com (Region 1 encoded NTSC video) $24.50