Monday, October 15, 2007

Mini Moleskine

We had the day off in Baltimore yesterday, so we spent most of the day in the Walters Art Museum. This is a must-see collection if you like 19th Century academic painting, and they also have a vast collection of Asian, Egyptian, and Roman stuff on display. And it’s free! Check out this gem “Figaro’s Shop” by the Spanish genre painter Jose Aranda 1837-1903.

I also inaugurated a new Moleskine mini watercolor sketchbook. The view is of Vernon Square Park from the steps of the Peabody Conservatory.


As usual, I picked a motif that was way too complex, so I was boggling my brain trying to sort it all out. I took a couple of shots in progress:

I tried to simplify things by using a limited palette: lampblack, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, vermillion, and sepia. After a quick pencil drawing, the first step was to block in the main shapes with a ½ inch Winsor & Newton series 995 flat.

After this rough block-in I like to add the finicky details with a brown fountain pen. But I left it in the hotel room, so I used an Escoda 1212 Kolinksy round #4 instead. The water supply is from a clear 35mm film can. Remember film cans?

22 comments:

Stephen James. said...

Cool mini's.

Aren't watercolors boxes great? Portible, easy to use, quick drying time.

I know I'm falling in love with them again.

Eric Orchard said...

Wonderful studies! I love the way the lamp posts curve out into the sky.

Jared Shear said...

WOW...very cool James. I love how those little plein air sketches can transport a person back instantly to that time and place....for me much more than a photo, probably because it is more personal instead of just point and click.

Look forward to seeing more!

Murat Kayi said...

Painting Gear question:

Have you ever tried water soluble pencils (esp. for quick outdoor work)? Any thoughts on them?

james gurney said...

Yes, I've tried the water soluble graphite pencils, and I love them. Right now I have a Derwent Sketching 4B in my pencil box. Most of the time I use it like a normal pencil and forget about its special properties. All I need is a sawed-off brush and a film can of water, and I can melt a grainy pencil tone into a smooth wash.

Kahunna said...

I've figured out how you're such an amazing artist, James: you have three arms! How else could you have photographed yourself painting??

:)

james gurney said...

Ha ha. Very observant, Kahunna.

Actually I held the little camera under my chin and used the self timer. Not easy, because the darn thing was slippery and kept falling in my lap. You should have seen the look of the tourists walking by as I was fooling with the thing.

M. A said...

Ever try a Niji waterbrush? its brush pen that stores water in it, pretty useful for quickie sketches along with watercolor pencils and a small travel kit like you have. I agree there is nothing like a sketch or watercolor to really capture the feeling of a place and bring it home with you (though photos are nice too :) )

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