Saturday, March 24, 2018

Painting a Street Scene with Gradated Color

You can paint a scene with an overall color system that gradates from warm to cool.

(Link to YouTube) Shifting from one color family to another suggests the change of mood from sad to happy or from winter to spring.

I'm using a mixed technique, with Gouache over a Casein underpainting, with NuPastel sticks to finish up. (Links take you to Amazon pages).

Golden Hat on YouTube asks: I am unfamiliar with casein paint and was wondering why you use that to seal the paper surface as opposed to acrylic?
Gurney: I use casein because once it's dry, it won't pick up if you put a wash over it. Acrylic would do the same. You could also use Acryla Gouache (Holbein), which is a matte, opaque version of gouache with an acrylic binder. Or you could tint some gesso with acrylic, or anything like that as long as it's not too shiny. If the priming is glossy, the gouache will bead up and not stick right.
More on gouache painting in my Gumroad tutorial "Gouache in the Wild"
The music at the end is by Matthew Schreiber. Check out his new album at his website.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Tips for Painting Lamplight

Jeff asks: "Any tips for conveying the effects of candlelight or lantern light in a painting?"

Jeff, yes, let's take a look at Viggo Johansen (1851-1935). He was a Danish painter in the Skagen group, and like his colleague Krøyer he loved to paint gatherings of friends around the dinner table. His painting Evening Talk includes a lantern on the table and two candles on the piano.

Viggo Johansen, Evening Talk, 1886
Johansen does a few things to make the effect of light convincing. 
1. The areas of dark are large and simple. Note how in the lower part of the picture, it's very hard to make out the details of the chairs and table legs.
2. The edges between forms in the outer areas are kept soft. Note the way he paints the framed canvases on the wall. They're quite blurry and out-of-focus.
3. The fall-off rate of the light roughly follows the inverse square law.
4. The effect area under the lantern is small, crisp, and detailed: lots of dots and sparkles.
5. The area of the lantern itself is a flat, warm white, with more or less glow or halation around it depending on the amount of smoke in the air.

Viggo Johansen, An Artist's Gathering, 1903
Wikipedia Viggo Johansen (1851-1935)
More in my book: Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (James Gurney Art)(Amazon), or Color and Light (Signed on my website)
Previously on the blog:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Heinrich Kley: Elegance and Cruelty

Heinrich Kley (German1863-1945) often juxtaposed elegance and cruelty.

Like Arthur Rackham, his knowledge of anatomy and his fertile imagination inspired generations of artists in the early 20th century, including the Disney Studios.

According to one book: "In fact, Disney himself held up a book of Kley’s drawings during a television appearance and said that they were integral to the studio’s lessons and workshops for newly hired animators."
Shipyard painting by Heinrich Kley
Fortunately, new works by Kley regularly appear on the auction market. Former Disney animator Andreas Deja has uncovered some unusual and newly seen Kleys on his blog Deja View. Today's images come from his blog.

Best books on Heinrich Kley are:
The Lost Art of Heinrich Kley, Volume 1: Drawings
The Lost Art of Heinrich Kley, Volume 2: Paintings & Sketches
The Drawings of Heinrich Kley (Dover)
More Drawings by Heinrich Kley

Previous posts on Kley:
Heinrich Kley, "The Demons of Krupp"
More on those Kley/Krupp Devils
Review of the "Lost Art" books

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Drawing with the Brush

You don't need to do a detailed drawing as long as your measurements are right. (Link to video)

Here's the sequence, drawing with the brush:
1. Warm-primed canvas
2. Careful measurements with brush.
3. Big areas blocked in.
4. Subdivide small forms.
5. Details and accents.
I invite you to check out my channels and follow or subscribe if you like what you see:
JamesGurneyArt on Instagram
GurneyJourney YouTube Channel
My public Facebook page
James Gurney on Twitter
GurneyJourney on Pinterest

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Theodore Lukits and his Theory of Color

Artist Theodore Lukits (1897-1992) lived in Los Angeles, where he ran a school of painting.

Theodore Lukits (on ladder) and Dean Cornwell (below right)
Lukits had once served as an apprentice to Dean Cornwell (1892-1960). Los Angeles artist David Starrett has made a few short videos to share what he learned from his studies with Lukits in the early 1970s. Youtube Link.

Students were limited to working with white, cadmium yellow pale, cadmium red, a cool red (Ed. note quinacridone red), Phthalo (Monastral) green, and ultramarine blue.

From those colors students would make a color wheel, tinting the colors in the center of the circle with white and darkening them with adjacent colors, but not with black.

Drawing by Theodore Lukits 
As Starrett points out, Lukits placed a lot of importance on understanding drawing and value before embarking on color.

Painting by Theodore Lukits
To start out, students were expected to create 3-month-long graphite drawings of casts, and then they could paint the casts in color, still focusing on value primarily.

Youtube Link. Once they understood value, they painted from still life setups, which were often lit with brightly colored lights.

Painting by Theodore Lukits
Lukits liked painting with strong color oppositions, both of local color and of light colors. Sometimes he would drape a red vase with a green veil, or put two strongly colored objects next to each other.

Lukits discouraged the use of earth colors, which he called "tobacco juice" colors. He argued that you didn't need them because you could mix any color from the few basic hues. (Youtube Link)

Painting by T. Lukits
Lukits himself studied in Chicago under Carl Werntz (1874–1944), William Victor HigginsKarl Albert Buehr (1866–1952), Wellington J. Reynolds (1866–1949), Harry Mills Walcott 1877–1930), Edwin Blashfield (1848–1936), Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872–1930), and George Bellows(1882–1925). He also traveled and studied with Alphonse Mucha (1860–1939) when Mucha was developing the Slav Epics.

Lukits students include not only David Starrett, but also Peter S. Adams, Tim Solliday, and Frank Ordaz.
Previous posts featuring David Starrett

Monday, March 19, 2018

Woodless Pencil Test

I decide to try out a woodless water-soluble pencil. A woodless pencil means the whole pencil is made out of the lead, rather than surrounding the thin lead with a casing of wood.

Matthew Schreiber, Bulgarian Accordion. Listen to one of his tunes on YouTube
The pencil I'm using is called a Cretacolor Aqua Monolith. You can buy them individually for about $2.00-$3.00 each. I'm just using the ivory black one here, but it comes in a set of 12 colors, which retails for about $24.00-$30.00.

I'm using a water brush to blend the pencil, and I'm drawing in a Pentalic watercolor journal. The watercolor paper is robust enough to handle some scrubbing.

Some thoughts: 
1. A woodless pencil sharpens like a regular pencil, but you have to waste the pigment on the whole tool to get the sharp point. 
2. The Cretacolor Aqua Monolith is round in cross section, so it would tend to roll off a table. If it accidentally falls to the ground or slips out of your hand, it's likely to break.
3. The pencil is coated in a shiny lacquer varnish, so that it won't activate with water on the part of the pencil that you're holding. 
4. The lead is quite hard, and the pencil is heavy. It feels different from water-soluble crayons or pastels, such as the Caran d'Ache Neocolor, which feel lighter in weight, waxier, and softer.
5. The darkness of the black is somewhere between the graphite gray of a Derwent Graphitint pencil and the velvety black of a Derwent Inktense.
6. It delivers a responsive line and blends well with water, but I don't see much advantage to having the whole pencil made out of the lead unless you want to use it on its side to make large areas of tone. 

With any sketching tools, my recommendation is to buy just one sample of a given product line and try it out and see if you like it before buying a whole set.