Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mass in C

Here's a portrait in watercolor drawn entirely during a thrilling performance of Beethoven's Mass in C at Bard College. Jeanette was singing in the alto section. 

I used two  watercolor pencils (reddish brown and black) and three water brushes (clear water, black ink, and blue ink) in a 5x8 inch watercolor notebook. I chose these tools carefully before the concert started. Since there was no intermission, I knew I couldn't fish around in the sketch bag, and I had to hold the unused tools very quietly in my left hand. 

Conductor James Bagwell delivered the tempi at a fast clip, so the running length was about 50 minutes.

20 comments:

Katarina Öberg said...

Gorgeous!

I was wondering how much time you devote to sketching, specially outside of your studio, and how much time you spend directly on pieces for your books etc.? Maybe in an average workweek? If there is such a thing as an average work week! I am new at this, and simply curious.

Katherine said...

Lovely.
I know it's basic, but I was pleased with myself to notice the dark upper b'ground which serves to contrast and therefore draw the eye to the lovely white hair, and then the eye runs along the bridge to the hand and the twiddly bit.

James Gurney said...

Katarina, I always bring my sketchbook when I leave the house, so I end up doing a sketch almost every day, and for sure if I'm at a meeting or waiting for something. I'm working on fantasy and science illustration and writing during the day. There's no average work week, but typically I work 9-5 during the day in the studio and I read in the evenings.

Good eye, Katherine. At first I wasn't going to drop in the dark BG, but I needed to in order to make his hair appear light.

L. Benson said...

This is very helpful and inspiring. I bring my sketchbook, water brushes and tiny watercolor kit with me, but have always found it too awkward and conspicuous to paint in very public places. The water color pencils are a great idea. One question about the water brushes -- do you actually fill them with ink or diluted watercolor?

Cheers,
LB

en_b said...

Is that pure black and blue ink in your water brushes? Or do you water them down a bit?

Lots of informative art blogs in the world but none as good as Gurney Journey!
Happy New Year

James Gurney said...

L Benson, yes, I fill the water brushes with a water soluble (fountain pen) ink, such as "Higgins Eternal" for the black and "Schaefer Scrip" ink for the blue. I use a hypodermic or an eyedropper to get it in the handle of the water brush.

En B, thanks! No, in this case I didn't water down the ink, but you could. Since I have a third water brush with water, I can mix the full strength ink with the regular water to get a gradation.

Katarina Öberg said...

Thank you for your generous spirit in sharing your methods, knowledge, and lovely art, here and in your books.

You inspire me to do more of what I love :)

Anonymous said...

Remind me not to sit next to you at a concert. You could be extremely annoying.

Rich said...

Hey Mr. Sketchman.
How precise; also like the way you rendered the violin and the player's communion with the instrument.

Sherry Schmidt said...

So wonderful and thank you for the tips on what you used.

Connie Nobbe said...

Anonymous can sit somewhere else. I would love to sit next to you in a concert. I want to watch you sketch.

Anonymous said...

Great. We could switch seats. I go to concerts to hear the music, not watch someone sketch.

Paolo Puggioni said...

I was wondering: were you sitting in the audience or behind the stage?
It's extremely unusual seeing a violinist from that angle. They usually sit at the left of the director, thus showing the audience the side with "f" holes, where the sound comes from.

James Gurney said...

Paolo, I was sitting way down front on the right, facing the stage. The conductor had the violins and violas on both sides of him, I'm not sure why.

Tom Hart said...

Another great sketch, James. You must have enough full sketchbooks to fill a wall of shelves!

Did you actually use the blue water brush in this? I'm not making out blue...thinking it must be mixed in subtly if it's there.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Tom. Yes, I've got lots of sketchbooks! I only used a small bit of the blue brush, and the blue is very grayed down, so it's really a cool gray.

James Gurney said...

By the way, those who doubt the computer's ability to think creatively might want to have a look this study: http://lateralaction.com/articles/computers-creativity/

or the NY Times piece, now 10 years old:
http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/07/science/route-to-creativity-following-bliss-or-dots.html

Connie Nobbe said...

Did you have to let each color layer dry before moving on to the next color? It seems to me that if you are trying to make quick sketches, wet media could slow you down and you might lose sight of your subject, as you wait for layers to dry.

Do you have any videos of you doing quick sketches like these, so I can just watch that and you won't have to answer my silly questions. :)

James Gurney said...

Hi, Connie, The blue and black mixed wet into wet. It probably would be best to show a video demo. That's on my Do List!

redspaintings said...

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