Friday, November 21, 2014

Beloved Friends

Here are two gouache portraits I painted while waiting for supper.

Our beloved art-teacher friends David Starrett and Sam Clayberger mentored us 35 years ago when Jeanette and I were were just sketching companions.

When we're with old pals like these, the years disappear, and we live in a moment that I wish could last forever.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grayed CMY Experiment

Here's a color experiment that I tried a couple of days ago.

I set up for an outdoor gouache painting in Laguna Beach, California. I limited the colors to intense versions of cyan, yellow, and magenta, plus white.

I picked the most highly saturated or high-chroma versions of them that I had: Holbein Prussian blue [PB 27] (I could have used phthalo blue if I had brought it), Winsor and Newton lemon yellow (I could also have used Cadmium Yellow Light), and Holbein Carmine red (Naphthol), plus Caran d'Ache white.

Using these ingredients, I tried to paint a grayed-down painting out of them. I didn't want to allow any bright colors in the final image.

What a fun and strange feeling that was, like trying to drive a racing car in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Just touch the accelerator and it wants to blast off. Each of those colors has so much firepower, but I had to put on the brakes at every stage, restraining each color by using the other two as a complement.

No matter how hard I tried to achieve quiet, neutral colors, one of those strong colors wanted to dominate.

This challenge is the reverse of starting with a limited palette of pigments and trying to stretch those colors to be as pure as possible, such as in the painting above, which used a limited palette of weak colors: raw sienna, Venetian red, cobalt blue, and titanium white.

For more about limited palette experiments, see previous post on Limited Palettes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

At the Sarasota Chalk Festival

Last weekend at the Sarasota Chalk Festival in Venice, Florida, the theme was Extinct and Endangered Animals, and I was honored that two of the artists chose images from Dinotopia to recreate as gigantic street paintings. 

Jennifer Chaparro, photo by Craig Houdeshell

Jennifer says, "The finished piece is 12’ x 12’. The white base is just kid’s washable tempera paint, to help the paint stick, with soft pastel chalks on top. I use four kinds of chalk. Your basic Koss pastels, plus Eternity Chalk, and Richeson Street Stix Pastels, and Mount Vision Pastels. The surface was not the best. It was rough and gritty, and I ripped through quite a few gloves and sponges."

Lori Escalera painted "Small Wonder." She says it was surprisingly cold and windy with a lot of distractions, but she stuck with it and did a beautiful job.

Here's the original painting from Dinotopia: The World Beneath, which is only about 14 inches square. The painting itself was exhibited in Florida at the Norton Museum of Art in 2010.
Thanks, Lori and Jennifer!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dinotopia Podcast, Episode 2

It's Tuesday, time for the new episode of the Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time serial podcast. To listen, click the play button below or follow the link to the SoundCloud file.

The adventure continues as Arthur and Will adjust to a world where humans and dinosaurs live as equals.

In the hatchery, kids help the hatchlings connect with their parent dinosaur.

Copro carters are a part of a proud profession, connoisseurs of the finest fertilizer.

When ZBS adapted Dinotopia to audio, they added to what was in the books by creating a fun banter between these characters.

...and then they meet up a disgruntled Dinotopian named Lee Crabb.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez, mastermind of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark.

Episode 3 arrives one week from today— Tuesday, November 25. Each 10-minute episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear. So tell your friends, and be sure to check in to this blog each week. That way you'll be able to hear the whole production for free.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour Dinotopia podcast right now and hear all twelve episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out Dinotopia at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download.

Here's the link to the SoundCloud file (which will disappear after a week).

You can also order the original book from my web store and I'll sign it for you. It's the ultimate holiday gift for the imaginative person in your life. (US orders only for the book, please).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Your DIY Pochade Easel Designs

Last month after sharing my own lightweight sketch easel design, I put out a call to all you Do-It-Yourselfers to share your home-built sketch easels, and you came through with some extraordinary innovations.

I promised to pick my favorite entry, but I couldn’t narrow the field down to one, so I picked seven. Each of the following submissions will win an official GurneyJourney “Department of Art” patch.

I’ll also award a D of A patch to the best FB share of this blog post.

Bryan Coombes
Bryan Coombes says: “I’m in the Vancouver BC area, been painting for about 5 years in oil and acrylic. I LOVE painting and now- thanks to you, I love painting in watercolour. I’m looking forward to trying out casein next."

Here’s Bryan Coombes’ design fully deployed.

Bryan improves my design in various ways, including by having a place to attach the pencil sharpener, and a pencil- or brush-holding groove on the front. Good point about the silicone for attaching stuff to the plastic cups. The rest of the notes speak for themselves.

ERC sent me photos of two ideas that he and his friends came up with.

The first is a folding drawing horse. It looks like a big wooden briefcase — with storage inside — but it folds out to a stable and sturdy drawing bench that you can take to any sketch group.

ERC’s second design rolls on skateboard wheels like a modern suitcase. Or you can carry it like a backpack to a painting location. Then the legs fold out to a wide tripod stance, holding any size canvas and a double-wide palette.

Jason Peck
Jason says, “Here is my most recent lightweight watercolor palette. I had a friend cut and drill the wood pieces for me." 

"All I had to do was glue it all together, and stain it. It measures 9X10 inches, and weighs less than one pound. I’m still using the old hinges that you used on your first pochade rig, but I will be swapping them for the Southco adjustable torque hinges soon.”

“This palette is lightweight and easy to pack and carry, but I have one more idea for an even lighter palette. I’m thinking of making one from old clipboards. My plan is to polyurethane the clipboards to waterproof them.”


Steve says: "My casein mixing tray that I already had happens to be made out of aluminum, so magnets will have to be replaced with Velcro, not my favorite choice. Maybe I'll glue sheet metal strips on the bottom."

"I've found the easel kind of evolves as you go along. Because of the tension hinge thickness I couldn't get it to fold completely flat, so I came up with the water cup hole/piano hinge/spacer idea."

Randall Cogburn
Randall Cogburn of Texas uses his lightweight sketch easel for various media.

Here it is in oil mode.

He has also adapted it for use with gouache. “This is the first time I used gouache and loving it,” he says.


Nancy Vance made this easel from an old checkerboard. The boxlike interior, once used for holding the game pieces, forms a tray to keep brushes and cups from falling off.

It stays open as far as you want it to with a length of chain looped over a cup hook. If you want to paint on the right side of the book, you could mount the chain on the left side of the box.

Jeff Allen

Jeff Allen says, “I made this box for a trip to Hawaii. It was designed to fit into a USPS "if it fits it ships" box." 

"That way I could ship all my painting equipment to the post office in Kauai where I could pick it up when I arrived. At the time it was $7.00 per box for shipping to Hawaii! It was constructed in oak with a standard thread for a tripod and saw a lot of use in Hawaii. It will hold 6 x 8 to 12 x 16 panels. The pallete is removable for cleaning.”
Thanks to everyone who entered, and sorry I couldn’t include all of them. I'm glad we can keep this all open-source to benefit the entire maker community.

To the seven winners, please email me your mailing address with the subject line "ART PATCH," and I'll send an embroidered "DEPARTMENT OF ART" patch out to you.

My original Lightweight Sketch Easel.
Earlier post on Your DIY Watercolor Easels.
More info on my easels and watercolor materials

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Painting the Outer Space Men

On Friday I visited toy inventor Mel Birnkrant and painted some of his "Outer Space Men" action figures in gouache. 

Gouache is an ideal medium for such a study because of its opacity and high tinting strength. You can also draw over the dry, matte surface with watercolor pencils or a white gel pen.

Today we'll be flying to Los Angeles to speak at art schools, theme park design firms, and animation studios, before spending next weekend at the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank.
Mel Birnkrant 
Outer Space Men website -- Read Mel's story of inventing some of the world's first action figures.
The Return of the O.S.M. -- Mel tells how he brought the figures back into production.
Mel Birnkrant's website, with other inventions and his incredible cartoon character collection.
Art Supplies
Watercolor sketchbook
Watercolor pencils
Travel brush set
White gel pen
Tutorial Video: Watercolor in the Wild
Download at Gumroad (Credit card customers)
Download at Sellfy (Paypal customers)
DVD (72 minutes, Region 1 encoded, with slide show)