Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Train Sketching

A fun way to pass the time while riding in a train is to do very quick sketches of the changing landscapes.

These are tiny watercolor sketches, only an inch and a half by ¾ of an inch, about the size of a postage stamp. Since the landscape disappears as quickly as it appears, you’re forced to form a mental image of the characteristic landscape.

As you transition from one region to the other you can easily see how the big planes of color gradually change.

Working quickly from a combination of observation and memory builds your skills for seeing stationary but complex scenes in simple terms. like this train station.

12 comments:

Julian Merrow-Smith said...

they are lovely James--you were quite close to us at Valence!

Random York said...

JIm,
is that everthing you carried on your person, on the tray in front of you? Do you carry a small shoulder bag or can you fit everything in cargo- pants pockets?
Thanks for documenting this trip, I have enjoyed it all!
John

Super Wu-Man said...

crazy, those are great, dont you have some dinotopia watercolor paintings that are just really small watercolor studies, those are actually my faviorite paintings of dinotopia,

i would love to see a future post with those awsome tiny dinotopia paintings, i seem to remember them being in your slide show while you were at the smithosinan in washington dc...awsome stuff!

Connie said...

Wonderful, wonderful work. I love how you take advantage of every opportunity to make art. I am inspired! Connie

Connie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
craigstephens said...

Those are just great. I agree with connie. It is very inspiring to see someone being so creative all the time!

arecol said...

vos yeux sont des caméras
qui mémorisent
et vos mains des projecteurs
avec ce blog
je voyage tous les jours
merci james
le bonjour à jeannette

Erik Bongers said...

You know, when looking at this post again, I suddenly noticed the unintentional selfportrait of Jeanette Gurney in the TGV [Train at Great Vitesse(=speed)] window.

It illustrates perfectly the role she has in respect to this blog.

Join me in cheeriowing the main spotlight avoiding reporter/photographer of the GJ blog !

Super Wu-Man said...

yeah i agree, great work jeanette! without your hard work we would only have half a blog here, haha, it proably wouldnt look right with mr gurney constantly holding the camera up to himself...people would think he has a huge ego...

instead jeanette can do it for him...and then when no one is looking she can tell him he has a huge ego...haha! just kidding,

keep up the great work, i always enjoy reading and seeing what the gurney duo is up to!!!!!

etc, etc said...

I love those sketches...YOU DA HOMME!!!

wondermachine said...

Hello James.
I'm a blurker but faithful reader of your blog. This is my first comment. I really loved your small train portraits. It's an idea I will have to try on my next time on Amtrak.
But I wanted to mention that what I most appreciated was your including a photograph of your tools like you did on your "Kitchen Table Portraits" a few days back. I never would've known about using two waterpens with on filled with pre-mixed sepia. I've used waterpens for a few years and never thought of that. Anyway, my point is that those little behind the scene glimpses are SO helpful. I was curious to know what you used on that train journey. Many thanks for a marvelous and inspiring blog.

James Gurney said...

Wondermachine--thanks for reading, and I appreciate your comment. And Random York, too--I'll try to take a photo of the setup.

The sketch stuff all fits in a fanny pack, but I'm so in dread of looking like a typical American tourist that I've got it down to stuff that fits in two pockets: a small sketchbook, four colored pencils, and a waterbrush.

And thanks for the tip of the hat to Jeanette. She wields the camera and puts up with my ego. I'm not sure which is harder.