Saturday, January 21, 2017

Extinct Giant Owl

Behold the giant killer owl, Ornimegalonyx.

It was the top predator in Cuba until 6,000 years ago. It was the largest owl that ever lived—about 40 inches tall, weighing more than 20 pounds, with long legs and fierce talons.

Its stubby wings might have extended its glide in a foot-first pounce attack against a giant ground sloth many times its size.

The reconstruction is part of the ¡Cuba! exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the sculpt is by Jason Brougham.

Link: AMNH Website

Friday, January 20, 2017

'The Devil Draws!'

When he tried sketching in Albania around 1849, Edward Lear (British, 1812-1888) encountered some opposition from the local residents.

"No sooner had I settled to draw than forth came the populace of Elbassán, one by one, and two by two, to a mighty host they grew, and there were soon from eighty to a hundred spectators collected, with earnest curiosity in every look; and when I had sketched such of the principal buildings as they could recognize, a universal shout of 'Shaitán!' (Devil) burst from the crowd; and strange to relate, the greater part of the mob put their fingers into their mouths and whistled furiously, after the manner of butcher-boys in England."

"Whether this was a sort of spell against my magic I do not know...[Later] one of those tiresome Dervíshes—in whom, with their green turbans, Elbassán is rich—soon came up, and yelled, 'Shaitán scroo!—Shaitán!' ('The Devil draws! Devil!') in my ears with all his force; seizing my [sketch]book also, with an awful frown, shutting it, and pointing to the sky, as intimating that heaven would not allow such impiety. It was in vain after this to attempt more; the 'Shaitán' cry was raised in one wild chorus—and I took the consequences of having laid by my fez for comfort's sake—in the shape of a horrible shower of stones, which pursued me to the covered streets..."

From Journals of a Landscape Painter in Albania (The Balkans) by Edward Lear

Thursday, January 19, 2017

One-Minute Notan

Here's a challenging exercise for practicing brushwork: Try to paint a scene or object within one minute, interpreting it in a notan design, using black gouache and a big brush. 

A minute goes by very fast, as you can see in the video. (Link to video on Facebook)

Not only is there no undo button, but also there's no time for hesitation, and you have to use a brush fully loaded. Materials used: smooth bristol board cut into a 5-inch square, black gouachesynthetic round brush size 12.
You can watch the video looping on Instagram @jamesgurneyart
Twitter @GurneyJourney
Facebook JamesMGurney
YouTube GurneyJourney

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Where should I dump my waste water?

Mike Simpson asks:
I have a question about what you feel is the hazardous effect, if any, of disposing watercolor waste water onto the ground or plants, etc.?

I guess the best answer I can give you is to bring along a big container to dump the wastewater in and then dump out the water responsibly when you get back home or back to your hotel.

The same goes for cleaning the palette, by the way. My wife makes me clean out my palette in the shop sink because if I do it in the kitchen, no matter how neat I try to be, a speck of cadmium yellow always shows up in the sink or on the pot scrubber.

Although some pigments such as titanium white are relatively inert in watercolor our gouache, it's hard to know what hazardous materials might be in an actual jar of wastewater. If you use cadmiums or cobalts, etc., there are going to be some toxins in the mix.

Some pigments can also stain a sidewalk, stone, or a ground surface, and that's not good. And appearances matter. Even if you know what you're dumping is innocuous, it may not look like that to someone walking by, or someone organizing the event. One artist in a group who accidentally drops their palette or dumps their wastewater in a sensitive location can wreck it for every other painter who comes later.

Also, some institutions such as colleges have to follow very strict OSHA rules. They get in major trouble unless every artist follows very strict clean-up practices, which involves designated buckets for wastewater. All this is even more important for oil painters who deal with solvents. So it's a good idea to ask around to find out what's OK.

Please be sure to read the comments, which has some expert insights about what happens to toxins after they enter the waste stream.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Woodcarving a Seated Figure

This video (link to YouTube) shows how British sculptor Guy Reid (b. 1963) uses photographs shot at different angles to find the silhouettes of his sitting model. He cuts the shape out of wood with a band saw. Then he refines the 3D form with wood carving tools.

The video itself is remarkable for the way it eschews voiceover and music, letting the visuals explain the process instead.

Monday, January 16, 2017

How I start a casein painting

I often approach a casein or gouache painting with two passes: a semi-transparent lay-in of the big shapes, followed opaques, going for the details last.

The surface is a Pentalic watercolor journal. Here's a big blowup of the page so you can see the finished sketch up close. Note that "PALACE HOTEL" is painted dark over light.

The limited palette of the Gurney 6 Pack is enough for this subject: Colors include titanium white, ivory black, Venetian red, yellow ochre, and cobalt blue. The cobalt blue mixed with Venetian red makes a nice near-black that I use as a base for the shadow. Note the partial mixtures in the shadow..

(Link to watch video on YouTube)
My Gumroad tutorial: Casein Painting in the Wild
On Amazon: Casein 6 Pack
Casein six pack with travel brush set