Thursday, November 8, 2007

South Bend to Three Rivers

Yesterday morning was ideal for sketching, with fleecy clouds rolling in. We set up our chairs on the front lawn of a medical office and got to work with the watercolors: Jeanette with her Lukas set, and me test-driving a new Schmincke mini set (thanks for the recommendation, Dennis Nolan).

I was trying to capture the effect of contre-jour lighting, which meant painting around the little sparkly bits of edge lighting. I probably could have used Maskoid or Liquid Frisket for this task, but didn’t have any.

I tried to blend various colors into the shadow areas, while keeping the intensities muted. Colors are more saturated or vivid when the sun is at your back, and more neutral when you're looking toward the sun. I also avoided putting too much detail or linework in the picture, which would weaken the simple backlight effect.

On the drive up old highway 31 from Indiana into Michigan, there were plenty of gloriously tacky roadside artifacts, like this classic motel sign.

Up in Three Rivers, Michigan, I did a presentation at the Carnegie Center for the Arts, which hosted a Dinotopia original art exhibition ten years ago. Tom Lowry of Lowry’s Books arranged this booksigning event. The great thing about a road-trip book tour is that you can visit towns like Three Rivers that just don't get visiting authors because they're too far from the big city airports.

Readers of this blog will be interested to know that Amy (above, center left) and her family came all the way from Dearborn. Amy was one of the two winners of the “Art History Simplified” contest a few days ago!
I also was honored to meet Sean, who started writing me fan letters more than four years ago. We’ve exchanged quite a few letters since then. Sean’s copy of the original Dinotopia book gets the prize for “most loved.” Thanks, everybody for coming and making the event a success.

6 comments:

J Gilpin said...

Hi Mr. Gurnery,

Your watercolor sketches are quite inspiring and amazingly refined! I hope to find a copy of your out of print book on location sketching soon! Have you ever had anyone video the process? But I guess that could take all the fun and spontaneity out of it? I (and likely many others)would love to see the process, if you ever figure out a way to capture it without being intrusive.

Stay warm out there!
-JG

Amy Stegner said...

Great picture of the motel sign! What's funny is, you haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the weird crap michigan has within the state lines.

Also, totally awesome to meet you.

SeanBladow said...

Mr. Gurney,
It was incredible to meet you in person. Your wife was also great. I was nervous to meet you, but you are really gracious. Thanks for signing my "most loved" first edition! I'll be in touch!

P.S.
If you need any male "models" with a pony tail I'm your guy! ;)
Sean

james gurney said...

Hi Sean and J.Gilpin. Haven't shot a video, but I'll try more step-by-steps.

Amy, yes, we adore the weird stuff along the old US highways. Saw a sign this morning for "Cow Pie Bingo." Can you or anyone explain how you play?

Amy Stegner said...

I've never played myself, but it's sort of like a lottery- played at county fairs and things like that. Basically, you make a giant grid in a field (closed off), with chalk lines or something. You make bets on which square will be the winning one, then let a cow loose in the field. As you can guess, the winning square is the one with the first cowflop in it.

dkvision said...

That is so funny! We drove to Oshkosh from Goshen, IN to see your (exhibit and slide show, which was wonderful! We had a great time!) and then you drove to South Bend which is 45 min from Goshen. Hope you enjoyed your visit here as much as we enjoyed ours! Thanks!