Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Painting at Pemaquid Point

I had resolved to avoid the familiar subjects here in Maine—things like lighthouses, fishing boats, and waves crashing on rocks. But I was beguiled by the power of the waves at Pemaquid Point, and couldn't resist painting it in gouache.

In the video, I thought I'd try a slightly different kind of voiceover, sort of a video essay that considers the relationship between abstraction and realism. (Link to video on YouTube).

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

100k on Instagram

100k on Instagram! Thanks to everyone who follows my daily serving of color, light, and Dinotopia.

Check it out if you haven't already: @jamesgurneyart on Instagram  (Link to video on YouTube)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Painting Andrew Wyeth's Nephew

In Cushing, Maine, we visit the Olson House, where Andrew Wyeth's painted "Christina's World." (Link to Facebook for video)  

David Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth's nephew, gouache
Wyeth's nephew David Rockwell was sitting in the dining room. He's the son of Betsy's sister, and he spent a great deal of time growing up in the company of his uncle Andy and Christina Olson. As he shares photos and memories, I sketch his portrait in gouache.

At an early stage the portrait looks like a roughly shaped lump of clay. The background is transparent and the paint is a bit more opaque on the face.

The lighting is a form of split lighting, with cool window light from the left and warm light from the right, leaving the dark planes in the center of the face.
To visit the Olson House you'll need a ticket from the Farnsworth Art Museum
Wikipedia on Olson HouseAndrew Wyeth, and Christina's World
Video Tutorial: Portraits in the Wild download
All the DVDs direct from the manufacturer's warehouse

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Mysterious Gulper Eel

Marine biologists respond in awe as a gulper eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoides) inflates its pouch-like mouth, apparently as a defensive strategy (link to YouTube).

This is one of the first clear videos of the gulper eel, shot from a deep-sea rover on a previously unexplored seamount at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, northwest of Hawaii.

Also called a pelican eel because of its expandable jaws, the gulper has a light-emitting organ on the tip of its tail and can grow up to 6 feet long.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Book Review: The Profitable Artist

Artists want to create work that is original and relevant, but we also want to make a living doing it. 

A handbook called "The Profitable Artist" is designed to help us succeed with the business aspects of our journey. It focuses primarily on marketing, law, finance, strategic planning, grant writing, and pricing. This second edition has been updated to include some basic common-sense advice on social media, crowdfunding, and some new information on launching start-ups.  

The book gives an overview of general contract issues facing not only visual artists but also writers and performing artists. It touches on gallery art, but doesn't get into the business details of specific sectors of visual arts, such as illustration, publishing (or self-publishing), concept art, or animation, and it's not a pricing guide or a book of sample contracts. Without that granular information, it has some value as an introductory guide, but not as a reference book.

Recommended books that focus more on detailed business issues faced by visual artists include:
Kirsch's Handbook of Publishing Law: For Authors, Publishers, Editors and Agents
Business and Legal Forms for Fine Artists
Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist
If you're already published as an author, you can join the Author's Guild, which has a lot of helpful printed guides and services to help with publishing contracts.
The Profitable Artist: A Handbook for All Artists in the Performing, Literary, and Visual Arts, published by the New York Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit that supports

Friday, September 21, 2018

Gertrude Fiske

The paintings of Gertrude Fiske (American 1879-1961) are being featured at the Portsmouth Historical Society in New Hampshire. 

Fiske was a student and then a colleague of American Impressionists Edmund C. Tarbell, Frank Benson, Philip Hale, and Charles Woodbury. 

Woman at Work, 1910
Her paintings feature portraits, genre scenes, florals and landscapes, composed with an eye to simple and expressive value organization. As with other American Impressionists, she has a refined sense of edges, capturing a sense of mystery and poetry.

She passed up several opportunities to marry, preferring her independence. She maintained friendships with fellow painters known as “The Pine Hill Girls.” Her work won many prizes in her day.

Some of her paintings include "character portraits" where older models posed as representatives of occupations.
Gertrude Fiske: American Master will be on show at the Portsmouth Historical Society in New Hampshire through the end of September, 2018. Admission is free.
There's a catalog: Gertrude Fisk: American Master

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Painting a Cranberry Isle Skiff in Watercolor

This skiff from Cranberry Island in Maine is parked out in front of the The Carpenter's Boat Shop.

This behind-the-scenes video shows the how and why. (Link to YouTube)

The Carpenter's Boat Shop is a community that nourishes teams of apprentices, who work with master boatbuilders to learn time-honored skills.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Painting on Main Street in Maine

Mid-September is a great time for painting in Maine. The summer crowds have gone home and the leaf peepers aren't here yet. 

We're staying in the mid-coast region. I'll start off by painting Main Street, Damariscotta. (Link to video on YouTube)

Art Supplies:
Titanium White (M. Graham)
Raw Sienna (M. Graham):
Terra Rosa (M. Graham)
Peacock Blue (Shinhan Pass)
Rowney Blue (Daler-Rowney)
Pentalic watercolor sketchbook
Travel brush set

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

World's Oldest Drawing?

Colored marks on a stone found a cave in South Africa may be the oldest drawing in the world. National Geographic reports that the red-ochre lines are 73,000 years old, nearly 30,000 years older than the oldest cave art.
"Inside the cave, scientists have found other evidence of Homo sapiens being crafty from as far back as a hundred thousand years ago. Discoveries so far include perforated shells that archaeologists think were used as beads; tools and spear points; pieces of bone and ocher with scratched faces; and a group of artifacts that seems to point to production of a liquid form of ocher pigment. The discovery shows 'that drawing was part of the behavioral repertoire' of early humans, the researchers write. If people were making paints, stringing beads, engraving patterns on bones, and drawing, then they were behaviorally modern as early as 70,000 years ago, and perhaps earlier."

Nat Geo: "73,000-Year-Old Doodle May Be World's Oldest Drawing"

Monday, September 17, 2018


Costumbrism—or Costumbrismo in Spanish—is a movement of painting in Spain that emphasized scenes dramatized from ordinary life, with a focus on the customs of common people.

Penitents at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, 1874 Museo del Prado
José Aranda Jiménez (Spanish 1837-1903) was an example of the trend, which was inspired by photography and the movement for realism.

José Jiménez Aranda, A Disaster, 1890
Jiménez studied in Spain, Rome, and Paris. He staged his scenes like a movie director would, with a sense of drama and mystery.

Conversation in a Sevillan Courtyard
According to a Armand Gouzien, writing in 1930: "In the folklore paintings of Jiménez Aranda we admire the knowledge and cleverness of the composition, the acute study of the types, the truthfulness of the attitudes, the elegance of the finish, and the perfection of the drawing."

"His pictures are masterpieces of observation, with the serenity of descriptive works”. 

Aureliano de Beruete said of him: "the most important thing “(…) even more than technical execution, (is) the clarity of the scene represented." 

Figure study by José Jiménez Aranda
Costumbrismo on Wikipedia
José Jiménez Aranda on Wikipedia