Monday, September 30, 2013

Icelandic Sheep in Casein

Last week we helped with the sheep shearing duties at Dancing Lamb Farm. 
In between cleaning the fleeces, I paused to do a casein sketch of one of the sheep who was dozing in the clover.

I took a few closeups of the painting to address some of the questions that came up during last night's web show. One person asked whether you can draw with colored pencils on the surface of dry paint. 

Usually casein dries with a surface that doesn't take the colored pencil quite as well as watercolor or gouache does. Sometimes the pencil just skids over the surface. But this time it worked, and I used the black colored pencil to quickly note some detail in the horn, cheek, and eye. I was also able to use the fountain pen over the thin paint, as you can see from the image at the top of the post.

Note the thin, semi-transparent layers of blue, yellow, and green applied with a half inch flat brush in the upper left.

There were a couple of other questions last night about impastos and painting light accents. I set up the whole painting for these last light strokes.

I'm working here in a watercolor sketchbook with about 200 gram paper. Because the paper is quite flexible, heavy impastos in casein could crack off because thick passages are rather brittle, more like chalk than plastic. My impastos here are fairly low, still within the safe range for a watercolor paper support. 

If you like to go really crazy with impastos, you should work on a panel, or pre-texture the impastos with acrylic modeling paste, which has more emulsion strength and flexibility than casein. 

The handling of the paint here is very reminiscent of oil. It flows off the brush like oil, but it dries in minutes instead of hours. For the oil painter like me looking for a water-based sketching medium that travels well, this fits the bill pretty well.

Scroll down a couple of posts for links on where to get any of these supplies.   

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Concert Window Open

Here's me and my son Dan, in New York City today.

Dan is the creator of the web-streaming venue called Concert Window Open.

My wife Jeanette and I did a 45 minute webcast tonight with 160 participants from all over the US and around the world. As I painted in casein, there were insightful questions, fun banter, and a lot of helpful information exchanged among the participants. 

I would like to thank everyone who joined in, and I really appreciate your generous tips. Sorry the show can't be archived, but the idea is to make each show ephemeral. For those who missed it, we hope to see you at the next show. 

If you're an artist or a musician, and you would like to host your own monetized webshow, give it a try. It's easy and free to set up. You can do it from your home or studio. And you'll be part of the invention of an entirely new broadcast medium. Here's more information about Concert Window Open.

Links for tonight's webcast

For those watching my casein painting demo on  tonight's webcast at 7:00, (9:00 AM Australian time) here are some links for things I'll be using:

Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook

Winsor & Newton Series 995 flat nylon brush
Richeson Quiller Round Size 6 or 7
Richeson Quiller 7010 Flat 1/2 inch

Jack Richeson Casein Colors
Titanium white
Cadmium yellow light
Yellow ochre
Raw sienna
Venetian red
Raw umber
Cadmium red scarlet
Rose red
Ultramarine blue deep
Cobalt blue
Cerulean blue
Cadmium green
Ivory black

Colored Pencils
Caran D'Ache Supracolor II Colored Pencils

Palette, Cups, etc
The metal lid of a colored pencil box spray-painted white
Nalgene Polypropylene Jar (2-Ounce)

(To hold water cup to palette) Fridge Super Magnets by Lee Valley Tools
Old t-shirt for paint rag

If you're reading this before 7:00 Eastern U.S. time, you can still join in. It goes from 7:00 to 7:40, and it only costs $1 to sign up at Concert Window Open.

Stamp DVD now available

Good news: The DVD version of the new stamp art video  is now available.

The DVD includes 72 minutes of total running time, including:

• 38 minute main feature
• 13 minute extended interview with paleontologist Tom Rich
• 8.5 minute narrated slide show, with almost 100 images, including preliminary drawings and the full range of philatelic products from Australia Post
• 13.5 minute bonus feature on the making of Dinotopia ("Dinotopia: Art, Science, and Imagination")

The DVD also includes a free 5x7" photoprint of the stamp minisheet inside, making it a great gift for the stamp collector, dino-phile, or art student.

Praise for the previous DVD: "How I Paint Dinosaurs"
"For any art student or illustrator wanting to learn how to create realistic scenes from one's imagination this inexpensive DVD is a gold mine of information and learning!"—Christopher Evans, Head of Matte Painting Department, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi"

"James Gurney's 'How I Paint Dinosaurs' is not only a fascinating look into a master-illustrator's creative and technical process, it outlines fundamental techniques useful to any artist interested in infusing their work with life-like authenticity." —John-Paul Balmet, Concept Designer

Find out more about the new DVD (Paypal customers)  and Here's the product page for credit card customers or watch the YouTube trailer for the video

Note: The DVD is NTSC, Region 1 encoded, mastered on a Mac, so technically it's optimized for North America, but I'm told it should work in most modern DVD players internationally. Shipping overseas is less than $5. In any event, your satisfaction is guaranteed.
Also, don't forget to check out my live ConcertWindow webcast tonight at 7 pm Eastern time.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Where to find eyes for maquettes

It's important to put some care into the eyes on your maquette because that's what people look at and that's what makes them look real. Where do you get the eyes for maquettes?

There's a range of available options, depending on the quality you want:

1. Making eyes out of Sculpey or Fimo (oven hardening modeling material). The simplest solution is to model spheres of Sculpey and fire them in advance. That way they're hard, and they won't get distorted when you work them into the sculpt. Sculpey is available on Amazon.. Tip: you can also model and fire the teeth first, so they don't get all soft and distorted when you're building the mouth.

2. Plastic stuffed animal eyes (back row, left). These are available at craft stores, and they come in a range of sizes. I haven't had a problem yet with the plastic melting, though it's a risk, as the curing temperature of the Sculpey at 275 degrees Fahrenheit begins to approach the melting point of the plastic. Animal Eyes 30mm on Amazon

2. Doll eyes. (back row, center) For humans, the plastic doll eyes are flat-backed, and come in brown and blue and are very inexpensive at craft stores. It's a good idea to test these in the oven at curing temperatures to make sure they would survive. There are sources for higher quality glass doll eyes available from the online doll supply market. Good sources include: CR Crafts

3. Solid black plastic eyes. (back row, right) These are solid black, but surprising realistic for a lot of creatures. 12mm solid eyes on Amazon

4. Glass taxidermy eyes. (all the ones in the foreground). Glass eyes used by taxidermists are extremely realistic. You can get the ones intended for birds, reptiles, rodents, or large mammals, so you can imagine the range of sizes and colors. A good source is Van Dycke Taxidermy Supply.

Please let me know what sources you've discovered.
There are lots of other practical behind-the-scenes insights about maquettes in my new instructional art documentary (watch the trailer on YouTube) about the making of the Australian dinosaur stamps. 
The video download is available at at: Gumroad (for credit card payments). or: Sellfy (for Paypal payments).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Webcast this Sunday

I will be doing a live painting demo webshow this Sunday with Concert Window Open. I'll be using casein to do a quick painted study of an actual maquette from the Australian dinosaur stamp project.

Jeanette will read your questions and feedback while I work, and I'll join in the banter if I can get both of my brain hemispheres firing.

You can watch from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. To join in, you only have to pay $1 to access the live stream on Concert Window.

Everyone had a blast at the last CW webcast. Read about it at the previous blog post called "How I Did a Webcast with Concert Window Open."

Hope to see you then!
More info: Concert Window Open webcast

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to sculpt your maquettes to scale

How do you build a maquette exactly to the size you want? Here are seven quick tips.

1. First, do a scale drawing of your subject (dinosaur, monster, mech, or building) from at least a side view, but ideally a top and front view, too. 
2. Make a photocopy of the drawing. 
3. Fold it where the feet touch the ground, and position it right behind your armature.
4. Using a red marker, draw where you want the aluminum wire armature to go inside the form.
5. As you build the wire armature, shine a sharp light from far away to cast a shadow on your drawing. The shadow will be like an x-ray of your eventual maquette. You will be able to see exactly where the armature will fit inside the form. 

6. As you build the maquette, make sure it matches the size and pose that you planned in your drawing.

7. You can use a caliper to check actual measurements of the 3D form against the 2D drawing. Here's a cheap caliper that you can get for about 6 bucks.

You can see this tip in action, along with lots of other practical behind-the-scenes insights, in my new instructional art documentary (watch the trailer on YouTube) about the making of the Australian dinosaur stamps. 
More at:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Peter Trusler and the Dead Wombat

The "Australia's Age of Dinosaurs" stamp issue was not the first scenic dinosaur minisheet that Australia Post produced.

Artist Peter Trusler created this landmark stamp scene in 1993, called "Australia's Dinosaur Era." This was one of the ancestors of the current stamp issue, as well as the inspiration for the "World of Dinosaurs" stamps, which I created for the USA in 1996.

I had the distinct honor of not only meeting, but hanging out, with Peter during the research visit. He's a brilliant guy, a great artist, and a lot of fun.

He led me and paleontologist Tom Rich on an expedition into the bush near Melbourne. We were looking for plants that were analogous to Cretaceous flora, but we were also were hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive lyrebird.

During the lyrebird's mating season when we were there, it does its incredible calls that mimic other birds and noises. In the new making-of video, our cameras and microphones actually captured a brief glimpse of the lyrebird.

On the way back into town, we spotted a wombat carcass on the side of the road. One thing about paleontologists: they love roadkills. So we couldn't resist stopping to check it out. It was bloated with gas and buzzing with flies. Peter bent down near its rear end and showed me its vestigial limb-grasping toe.

I gave it a couple of gentle kicks. "You might not want to do that," Peter reminded me. "They've been known to explode in this condition."

Everyone who loves dinosaur artwork should know about Peter's work. His painting of a dead Leaellynasaura is one of the masterpieces of modern paleoart.

The wombat episode is just one adventure in my new video, "Australia's Age of Dinosaurs: The Art of the Postage Stamps." To learn more about the digital download of the art instruction documentary, have a look at the trailer on YouTube or check out the button below:
Also, stamp collectors anywhere in the world can order the new stamps, including first day of issue cancellations while supplies last, at this link to Australia Post.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Evolution of Koolasuchus

Here are six different stages of the development of the new Koolasuchus stamp from Australia Post. The first two are in pencil, drawn from imagination while looking at the fossil diagrams. The third is painted in gouache and colored pencil.

When I made the maquette from Sculpey, I understood better how I could give the pose more twist. And I could turn the form in real sunlight to see exactly where the light and shadow divided. The comprehensive layout at center is drawn in charcoal on vellum. This was the map for the final oil painting.
You can purchase a set of the stamps or other philatelic products from Australia Post at this link. (Reasonable shipping to anywhere in the world).

And you can get an instant digital download of my instructional art documentary (watch the trailer on YouTube) about the making of the stamps at:
Gumroad (for credit card payments).

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Australia's Age of Dinosaurs" Stamp Issue

It's now September 24th in Australia, which means I can announce the release of a new set of postage stamps that I spent a lot of the last year working on.

(Link to video trailer) This trailer gives you a peek at the instructional documentary that I created to record the adventure of creating the stamps. In the video, I share all the unique artistic insights that I learned from doing philatelic designs.

The stamp issue is called "Australia's Age of Dinosaurs," and it includes six stamp subjects against a scenic backdrop. If you live in Australia, you can pick up the stamps at the local Post Office, and regardless of where you live, you can purchase the stamp products at this link.

I'll tell you more about the making of the stamps in coming days (like the story of kicking a bloated wombat carcass), but if you want to grab the whole story right now, check out the links below to download the full-length 1080p (not 720p) HD digital video:

Do women and men prefer different colors?

According to a British study, there are distinct differences in color preferences between the sexes. The peer-reviewed research concluded that women distinctly prefer cool reds and pinks compared to men. While most people prefer blue overall, women prefer a redder hue of blue, the authors claim.

Color wheel by J. A. Hatt, from The Colorist, 1908
Are these preferences biological or cultural? Neuroscientist Anya Hurlbert tried to isolate cultural factors by comparing the results of the mostly British caucasian participants to Chinese subjects, and they found similar results.

According to TS-SI News Service, prehistoric women might have preferred colorful objects and especially reddish objects so that they could "key in on ripe, red fruits... It is different for men. Hurlbert says thinking about colors is less important for them. As hunters, they look for something dark and shoot it."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sketches from Old Sturbridge Village

Here are some pencil sketches that I did in 1987 at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, where they recreate the life of an American small town in the early 19th century.

Damon Cook, cooper

Notching an oak beam before hewing.

Hewing with a broadaxe

Some tools of the trade, all made on-site

John Eaton, tinner, making a betty lamp.

Old Sturbridge Village website

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dean Cornwell, Columnist

Dean Cornwell
When famed newspaper columnist Walter Winchell took an August break in 1942, he invited illustrator Dean Cornwell to pinch-hit. Cornwell offered some intriguing observations about the popular artists of his time, noting: 
"That most artists, particularly illustrators, are hams at heart. That Peter Arno was a professional musician and had difficulty choosing between music and a contract with the New Yorker. Otto Soglow is one of our best actors and he writes his own stuff (some stuff). Al Parker is a demon on trap drums and used to play the boats out of St. Louis. John Falter is up and down the piano like a Kansas cyclone—his boogie woogie is terrific! James Montgomery Flagg, Arthur William Brown and Russell Patterson have been movie directors. Russell's marionettes are something, if you haven't been lucky enough to have seen them."
Read the rest.
Thanks, Ian Schoenherr and Brian Kramer

James Montgomery Flagg posing for a reference photo with an artists' lay figure.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Menzel's underdrawings

Unfinished paintings reveal insights about an artist's working methods.

This unfinished painting of the inside of a church by Adolph Menzel shows the scaffolding of perspective lines that he laid down before covering them area by area in oil.

Note the careful spacing of the steps and tiles, and the diagonally sloping centerline from the floor through the feet of the priest, to a point on the eye level. I believe this line helped him establish the correct relative heights of the figures.

One art historian wondered why Menzel painted that blank-looking face staring out at us. I believe that's just a stand-in figure placed there for measurement to set the heights of the other figures. That figure would not have appeared in the final work.

Such careful preliminary underdrawing would be necessary for an accurate study like this one, too. In fact, you can see some more uncovered preliminary lines in the lion in the lower right.

Edit: Blog reader Ken did this diagram to explain. Thanks, Ken!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Things to Come

I would like to announce about some exciting things coming up on GurneyJourney:

September 24: New Video Release
Next Tuesday's post will be the release of an important illustration that I spent a good deal of time earlier this year working on, along with a new companion video about the making of that painting. Creating the painting was the artistic journey of a lifetime that took me halfway around the world. 

Sept. 29 Webcast 7:00 pm Eastern time
The following Sunday, I will do my second Concert Window live streaming webshow. This time, by popular request, I'll do a 40-minute demo in casein, painting from a maquette. Jeanette will read your questions and comments as I work. You can sign up to host your own ConcertWindow webshow—it's free to set one up, and the slots are filling fast. Find out more.

Oct. 4-5 Society of Animal Artists
In October, I'll be attending the Society of Animal Artists convention in Vermont, so I'll let you know about that great organization and the art and artists that are a part of it.

Oct. 15 Cranbrook Inst. Lecture
As part of its exhibition "Dinosaurs: A Lost World," Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan will host me for a lecture and booksigning.

We'll also explore the wilds of Detroit and and the historic Greenfield Village, with a sketchbook, of course.

American Adventure
After that we take a big car trip out to Colorado in our van Trusty Rusty to see our son who lives above 9000 feet in the Rockies. He gets the car, and we get a train ticket home via Amtrak. More sketching!

Oct. 27 Lecture, Arkell Museum, NY
Then I'll be giving a lecture and book signing at the opening of the next big Dinotopia exhibition at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie.

Hope to see you at one of those places, and if you can't make it, you'll read about it on the blog.