Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sargent's Charcoal Portraits

The Morgan Library in New York is currently hosting a big show of John Singer Sargent's charcoal portraits. (Link to YouTube)

The exhibition includes over 50 drawings and it will be on view through January 12.

There is also a new book in Richard Ormond's series on complete works of Sargent that focuses entirely on Sargent's charcoal portraits.

"John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Charcoal" at the Morgan Library
Book: John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Charcoal

Thanks, Chris.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bastien-Lepage's Portrait of His Grandfather

Jules Bastien-Lepage, Portrait of my Grandfather, 1874
Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) was one of the founders of Naturalism. A critic in 1883 said, "The whole world paints so much today like M. Bastien-Lepage that M. Bastien-Lepage seems to paint like the whole world."

Roger Fry said that the public acceptance of Impressionism owed much to the pioneering work of M. Bastien-Lepage. Monet's popularity, he said, "required the teaching of men like Bastien-Lepage, who cleverly compromised between the truth and an accepted convention of what things looked like, to bring the world gradually around to admitting truths which a single walk in the country with purely unbiased vision would have established beyond doubt."

Jules Bastien-Lepage on Wikipedia

Friday, October 11, 2019

Albert Wenzell's Illustrations

Albert Beck Wenzell (1864-1917) was an American illustrator who captured the personalities, gestures, and costumes of high  society. 

His black and white illustrations were frequently painted in gouache with a big, pointed brush on a warm-toned board.

He also painted in oil in full color, once color reproduction became an option.

Born in Detroit, he studied in Munich and Paris. He was best known for his fashionable scenes from high society.
"A Showdown" by Albert Beck Wenzell, oil on canvas, 1895
Historian Walt Reed said: "If his preoccupation with the rendering of the sheen of a silk dress or a starched shirt sometimes competes with the message of his pictures, he did, nevertheless, leave us an historic record of the settings and costumes of fashionable society at the turn of the century and set a high artistic standard."
You can read about Wenzell in Walt Reed's book The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000
In Vanity Fair is a contemporary book-length collection of his work.
Wenzell is another major illustrator with no Wikipedia page, so I hope one of you will do something about that.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

More Answers to Your Questions

You guys keep asking me interesting questions. These are from my Instagram and YouTube channels:

@koterminion: "What got you into classical dinosaurs?"jamesgurneyart The recent revolution in science made me see the dinosaurs of my childhood in a new light. Plus there are so many newly-discovered (non-classical?) dinosaurs that no one imagined decades ago.
sympaima: "What kind of tradition would you consider your work is?"
jamesgurneyart@sympaima I draw inspiration from a million sources: movies, games, comics, 1930s animation, Golden Age illustration, 1980s illustration, plein-air impressionism, academic painting, digital concept art. Each one has its heroes, its standards, and its way of doing things. At the same time, I feel outside of each one of those traditions, but I feel like they're all part of something bigger, which is telling stories with pictures.
@alexwishard: About how many hours went into just the painting (excluding thumbs, initial sketches, etc)?
jamesgurneyart@alexwishard To keep up with quotas, a painting like this one (from Dinotopia: The World Beneath) took about three days total. I had to produce 10 pages of book art per month.
sthom4bad Your sketchbooks that I have seen are filled with miniature works of art - you seem to finish everything to completion. Do you have sketchbooks where you don't finish things or abort them in the middle or try things out that don't work?"

James Gurney I have lots of sketchbooks that are all drawn in pencil and other drawing media, but recently I've been painting primarily in gouache. I just love it because it's so direct and I can take it everywhere. I suppose some of my plein-air sketchbook pieces look finished, but other ones are quite loose and sketchy. I do try to achieve a finished effect immediately regardless of how much time I have.
Fiona Grigg: "As a student approaching a professional [at a convention], what is one question that I would benefit from asking everyone I can?" 
If they're my age, ask them how the business has changed and what skills they had to learn mid- career. If they're a younger pro, ask how their art school helped them. If their art training fell short, I'd ask what skills the school failed to provide.
In the comments, I'd love it to hear your answers to those last questions.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

JoaquĆ­n Sorolla's 'Sewing the Sail'

The Irish National Museum is showing a big retrospective of the Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla.

The show includes many of his most famous paintings, including "Sewing the Sail."

Joaquin Sorolla, "Sewing the Sail," 1896, Oil on canvas
87 2/5 × 118 1/10 in, 222 × 300 cm
It's a very large painting, about 7 x 10 feet, immersing you in the dappled light splashing across the folds of cloth, the geraniums, and the various figures, who appear to have been painted from life.

How he accomplished such a large painting on location in the changing light boggles the mind, but I assume he set up his canvas under the grape arbor and set up the scene with individual models stepping in to their poses. 

The show is full of his best work throughout his career. It will be on view through 3 November, so don't miss it if you can make the trip. If you can't make it to Dublin, Ireland, the catalog Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light is the next best thing.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

I Rub Out a Painting and Try Again

The weather changes from sunny to overcast. Should I rub out my painting and chase the light? (Link to YouTube)
Grafton Street near Trinity College, gouache, 5 x 8 inches
With a warm underpainting in casein, I can rub out the gouache layer without the casein lifting up.

White gouache (gouache)
Cadmium yellow light (watercolor)
Yellow ochre (watercolor)
Transparent red oxide (watercolor)
Neutral Tint
Underpainting in casein colors

Empty watercolor tin
Pentalic Aqua Journal sketchbook
Liner brush (synthetic)
Winsor & Newton Series 995 synthetic flat brush

"Gouache in the Wild" (Download on Gumroad)

Monday, October 7, 2019

Semantic Paintbrushes

Painting using artificial intelligence or machine learning may not have completely arrived yet, but at least the software can make educated guesses about textures and colors.

The brush has a "semantic" understanding of what sort of thing it is painting, meaning it "understands" whether it's sky, water, mountain, or a building, and it generates appropriate forms based on a giant database of existing images. Link on YouTube

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Mary Nimmo Moran's Etchings

Mary Nimmo Moran (1842-1899) traveled all over Europe on sketching trips with her husband Thomas Moran.

"Haunted House," etching by Mary Nimmo Moran
But she decided to stay home on one of his extended jaunts to the west. Before he left he coated some copper plates and told her the basics of etching.

She developed her skill at the art mostly without the influence of teachers, which gave her an original approach. Nearly every plate was drawn in the wild directly on the plate. "When Mr. Moran returned from the West, the result of his wife's initial efforts with the needle were a surprise to him."

"They were so original, so pronounced in their characteristics, so unlike anything he himself had done or had seen, that he scarcely knew whether to praise or condemn. Four of these first plates, however, were submitted to the New York Etching Club, and were promptly accepted for exhibition."

"They were warmly praised by the critics, and the unknown artist was elected a member of the club."

"For twenty years, from her first hazardous beginnings to her death in September, 1899, Mrs. Moran was loyal to her first ideals and true to her own strong individuality."

Painting by Mary Nimmo Moran
"Never for a moment did she allow fads or fashion to warp her judgment, or cause her to wander from the path on which she started when she undertook unaided to develop her art."
Brush and Pencil Magazine, April, 1901, page 10
Mary Nimmo Moran on Wikipedia

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Cincinnati Exhibit with Gurney Paintings

There are three of my paintings currently on display in Cincinnati at an exhibition called "In the Audubon Tradition." They're available for purchase, and the information is here.

Animation with Encaustic Painting

Bulgarian artist Theodore Ushev has developed an encaustic painting technique for his animated film "The Physics of Sorrow."

In an interview for Cartoon Brew, he says: "The first ever time capsules were the Egyptians tombs. And they had these beautiful, realistic portraits on the cover of their sarcophagus, created with encaustic painting. Made of melted beeswax and color pigments, they stayed absolutely intact for 20 centuries. So I thought this would be the perfect technique to employ for my film. But I had to not only learn to paint an image or a portrait using this technique, but also invent a way to make it move."
The Physics of Sorrow: The Technique (Making-of) from NFB/marketing on Vimeo.
Via: Cartoon Brew
Wikipedia on Encaustic painting