Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Street scene in Salida, Colorado

Here's a painting I did yesterday on a street corner in Salida, Colorado. You can see the giant "S" on Salida's spiral mountain, just behind the Palace Hotel sign. 

Palace Hotel, Salida, Colorado. Casein, 5x8 inches, by James Gurney
I used casein paint, with the limited palette of cobalt blue, golden ochre, Venetian red, burnt umber and white. 


Here's a detail of the shopfronts and awnings. This represents about one square inch of the original painting. By the time I got to this stage, I was using smaller brushes, mostly flats. With casein, you can build detail by overlapping light over dark and dark over light.

Here's an early stage, about 10 minutes into the 1 hour painting. 

Although there's quite a bit of finicky detail work in the final painting, the beginning stages are really loose, painted with a big brush, a luxury you can afford yourself with opaque painting. But under that loose, transparent lay-in is a carefully measured "pencil map" of the big shapes. 

Additional tip: Whenever you mix a color, think in terms of classifying the colors in the scene. For example, you might think "white in shadow," "bricks in light," or "aspen foliage in light," etc. Once you have that color on your brush for the one thing you wanted to paint, look for other places in the scene that have similar conditions, and repeat that color in those places.
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Note: Tonight at midnight is the deadline for the "Plein Air Persistence" video contest. I'll try to have all the entrants up and ready for voting by the end of the 24th or 25th.

6 comments:

Psycho James said...

You have always been an inspiration to me and continue to be! I wish I could have had a video camera to video tape myself for this contest. I hope you have another in the near future. My style is a little different from anyone I have ever seen. My sketchbooks are filled with thousands of 2 by 2 inch plein-air paintings that look more like color keys. I will post some if you like to see them and thank you again for always being inspiring! 8)

Annie said...

Your sketchbook paintings are so spontaneous and evocative and complete-- would you ever use one as the basis for a larger oil painting? What would keep it lively? I love the blue shadows in the tree!

Unknown said...
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Phineas Jones said...

This comment is only to mention that the hotel pictured is owned by my cousin, and this is quite a random coincidence...

Joe Kulka said...

Great work, as always.

Got your DVD for my birthday and shared it with my MFA students in the children's book illustration course I teach. Everyone loved it. They were quite sad to hear of Mr.Kooks passing as he stole the show in the video. I'll be showing it to my BFA illustration students tomorrow and highly recommending that they purchase their own copies.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Joe. You De Man!

Phineas, that's amazing. I loved the Palace Hotel sign lettering.

Annie, I have done that from time to time, but whenever possible I like to do the whole picture from life. Most of my studio work is imagination-based.

Psycho, thanks for all your comments recently. If this video contest is a success, maybe I'll do another one in the future.