Saturday, February 20, 2010


Back in 1987, while on assignment for National Geographic, I got lost in old Jerusalem.

I wandered down the narrow, twisting alleys. The sound of tapping hammers and the smell of contact cement hit me. Three guys sat in a little arched alcove making shoes. A boom box played Elton John.

They set up a plastic bucket for me to sit on and poured me a cup of tea. I pulled out my sketchbook and drew their portraits in pencil and ink wash.


Daniel Bejarano Casarino said...

Nice sketch and great blog James!

Craig said...

I really love this. I want to get lost in Jerusalem too. Great interview on Sidebar, btw.

Erik Bongers said...

Looks like you spent quite some time there, because that's a very nice, but also detailed sketch.

Gordon Napier said...

Pilgrimage is good for soles.

Kathy Hodge said...

I love your blog, I never know what to expect, but your posts always make me think.

I did an entire series of paintings of shoemaker tools, less primitive than hand tools, but still seemingly from another era.

Mark McDonnell said...

Mr. Gurney,

My name is Mark McDonnell and I have been a huge fan of your artwork and although I would in the animation field the correlation is almost always 1 to 1. Your work is fantastic, as the STORYTELLING is always within your paintings and they are so well accomplished it's such a joy to pour over. I primarily deal in line (shocking I know, as a designer in Animation) and have been making the transition to paint (digital as well as traditional) for myself as well as illustrations within the studio. Most of my figure drawing sessions at the studio I try to make sure I approach with Watercolor on a Gouache now. And although the poses are at maximum 5 minutes, I am really enjoying the challenge.

In addition to being a designer, I am also an instructor at Disney, Dreamworks as well as The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art just outside of LA as I know you came to give a lecture (which I unfortunately missed as I was happily visiting family up north). Recently I have been creating videos for those individuals who live outside of the area or who's skill levels just might not be up to what the studio system expects. If you have time, I would love to see what you have to say and if there is anything that you are interested in commenting on. I know you are a busy man and artist so please excuse me for taking away from "life" on the continuing pursuit of bettering ones skills.

Part 01:

All my best and thanks for the many years of inspiration and giddiness of enjoying Dinosaur's in an "adult" fashion,

Mark McDonnell

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody. I think this sketch took an hour or so, followed by a cup of tea shared with the guys. Their hospitality still blows me away.

Mark, I'm downloading your videos now and can't wait to watch them. Hope to get a chance to talk to you sometime.

Mark McDonnell said...

Thank you. Also, please excuse me for posting this on one of your posts, I just saw you left your email address for contacting you. Nice, attention to detail . . . a grand quality in an artist.

All my best,