Monday, July 23, 2012

Painting the Chapel Garden



(Video link) Yesterday I did another little watercolor painting, this time of the garden beside the chapel at Bard College in New York.


I brought the video camera so you could follow my step-by-step progress — and witness the little accident I had halfway through. I caught it on video, but deleted the expletive.


This detail is about three inches across. Tools: Schmincke Watercolor Pocket Set 1-inch flat watercolor brushCaran D'Ache watercolor pencilsMoleskine Watercolor Notebook, and a 1/4 inch flat watercolor travel brush, shot on a Canon VIXIA.

The music was written and performed by John R. York, who is a long-time reader and contributor to this blog. Here's his website and his music page. The piece is called "A Lock of Hair," from his "Sketchbook" album. Thanks, John!

Check out my other videos or subscribe to the GurneyJourney YouTube channel so you can see the videos before anyone else. To embed this video in your blog, follow this link to the YouTube page, then press "Embed" and then "Share" and then copy the code right into your blog's composing box, and the video will appear on your blog.


22 comments:

Sara Otterstätter said...

Thanks again for this beautiful watercolor sketch and the video of making of. It is really inspiring. I think, I shall buy a broad brush and work more with the technic from broad to fine. And do more architecture and more plants.

Funny side note. I was admiring how nice you balance the water cup in your watercolor box, when just in that moment the "Oops-Moment" happened. This is the reason, why I use always waterbrushpens, when I am outside sketching. This "Oops-Moment" would happen to me all the time :D

Monika Baum said...

Thank you James! I love the videos of you painting with watercolors - I find the other WIPs in other media great to watch as well, but having worked almost solely in watercolor myself, these videos are even more fascinating!

Carol said...

I very much like when you finish this water color painting with the caran d'ache colored pencils.

Anonymous said...

When painting plants do you follow the form principle? In your lastest book you wrote certains things don't follow the form principle because not everything is made of clay. Plants are extremely intricate and i find myself quite overwhelmed trying to organize things into light, midtone and shadow planes when trying to accomplish accurate drawing.

You nailed those specular highlights very convincingly btw!

James Gurney said...

Sara, You're right--water brushes have fewer Oops Moments. When I'm using the pan set, I usually remember to clip it to the left page, and tape the water cup so tip over on the painting (that's happened too).

Monika, I agree. Watercolor is more dangerous, more of a balancing act, which makes for good video.

Carol, Thanks. As you can see, I'm not a purist in watercolor. The nice thing about the water-soluble pencils is that the textures can be softened with water to help match the look of the brushed details.

Anon, When the light is shining on the top surface of the leaves, they more or less follow the form principle, but of course there's a lot of transmitted light, too. Honestly, my mind becomes something resembling mashed potatoes when I'm in the midst of something like this. I forget all the scientific principles—I'm also worried about working the camera at the same time. And where I was sitting, people driving by on the road behind me kept stopping and asking me for directions. So I was in an advanced state of befuddlement.

Eileen said...

Wonderful video, beautiful painting. Thank you.

Matthew Gauvin said...

This past saturday I was out with my fiance painting a vernmont landscape with watercolors, including some corn growing in the foreground. I spent over an hour painting the background then ran out of time for the corn. I didn't realize till the end that the corn really was the part of the landscape I was most interested in. Now seeing your video really makes me wish I had spent more time with it. Fantastic work as usual James.

Richard said...

I'm interesting in the mental state you describe as "mashed potatoes" because I think most artists get into it. It appears to be trance-like to me in the sense of very focused attention. I read that several artists talk to themselves (Sargent, for example) sometimes out loud. Do you ever find yourself doing this? I've actually been trying it out, and I think it helps.

Richard

James said...

Thank you for posting step by step videos of your work, they are great! You have inspired me to do more plein air painting and sketching!

jeff jordan said...

Mashed potato brains.......I was hanging out with a friend who's a great guitar player, using a Warr guitar, a Touch Guitar, sorta more like a piano, the way it's played. Anyway, at one point he was warming up for a gig, played something where both hands were moving in unison, and I asked if he was doing Octaves--working notes an octave apart. He said he thought it was something else, 4ths and 5ths, maybe, but "If I had to stop and look, I wouldn't be able to PLAY it."

In other words, there's too much going on in the brain to be able to do anything but DO it.

Ezra said...

Nice camera work! I thought that the accident was a an act at first.

Rich said...

Real thoroughly enjoyable; thanks!

The very first lines look as if you'd attempt an abstract design;-)
Also liked the way you applied the darks with that large flat brush.

James Gurney said...

Ezra, I really did drop the watercolor box, and one part of the reaction shot was caught totally by accident. But I did repeat it to get other angles and to get better audio.

Rich, You're right: I sort of was thinking abstractly--that's the fun of realism for me.

Jeff and Richard, you said it. For me, that state of mind crowds out words, so it's really hard to explain what I'm doing while I'm doing it.

Matthew, I've never regretted choosing a small detail of a scene. Of course with any natural form, there are always worlds within worlds anyway, and any viewpoint yields infinite complexity.

Eileen and James, glad you're enjoying these. I feel I have to shoot and edit these myself to give the viewer the feeling of actually seeing the whole process from my POV.

Anonymous said...

Most neuroscientists refer to the trance-like state as "flow". The brain releases just the right amount of stress hormones(cortisol) in order to keep you engaged. Too little and you feel very apathetic or bored and too much cortisol causes anxiety.

I think the most talented artist are in that state most of the time. They say 10,000 hours of practice is an important benchmark in any domain of skill, once you reach this plateau something happens to the brain called neuroplasticity.

SVSART said...

Love the videos keep them coming, they are fun to watch :)

Dash Courageous said...

You were just BEGGING for the paints to spill having it balanced like, you do know this right? :-)

John gronkowski said...

I always appreciate seeing how you work. Since I was blown away by the Dinotopia books and figured that your painting technique must be so involved and complex, I am always encouraged to see how you can paint such wonderful things with such elegant, basic technique. You're an inspiration.

Gina Florio said...

Hi James,

I actually work as a video editor (aspiring artist on the side), and I really love your videos - I was just wondering about your video-making process. I'm curious how you get that angle right above your sketchbook, since you obviously have both hands free to work in the shot. Are you using a tripod that can tilt the camera where it's pointed straight down? If so, doesn't that get in the way of what you're looking at to draw?

I also just wanted to say that it must be very hard to go back and forth between shooting the video, and actually sketching! The two tasks require two very different frames of mind for me.

James Gurney said...

Gina -- very astute questions. Yes to all of them. The camera is on a lightweight tripod. I shorten one of the legs so that the camera can hover a few inches off the page. It's hard to see what I'm doing under the camera. There's a lav mike clipped to the page for sound FX and an H1 Zoom to cover room tone. It would be hard for a separate crew to get such up-close coverage without being completely in the artist's face. Your final observation is right on. I have to force myself to pause and set up the camera, and it's really hard to keep everything in mind at once: not just the painting, but also worries about continuity, wind noise, exposure, focus, coverage....

Dr. Vaughan Dabbs said...

This is wonderful. I am not quite familiar with the internet, but I beleive that what I just read is some good material. Thanks for continuing to write such wonderful articles. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I get excited each time I see a new video. I always come away wanting to grab my watercolor kit, run outside and paint something. It's also fun watching the positive reactions each time you post one. You're onto something with these videos Mr. Gurney.

Marie said...

You are still the best thing since sliced bread.

I am so grateful that you share your treasure chest of well treasures.