Thursday, April 3, 2014

Augustus O. Lamplough

Augustus Osborne Lamplough (1877-1930) was a British painter known for his evocative watercolors of north Africa.

His paintings of Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria are frequently set at dusk or moonlight. He's a good artist to reference for color and light ideas if you're painting desert scenes. 

In this painting of the Sphinx, note how the sky gradates lighter on the left side of the picture, closer to the moon. The overall key is fairly light, and the colors aren't too saturated.  

In this remarkable portrayal of dusk lighting, note the soft edges around the horizon. He's probably using gouache for those clouds. This kind of painting takes a lot of brush mileage and a light touch.

This is called the "Temple of Kom Ombo," and is 13 x 20 inches. The shadow colors here are influenced primarily by the warm light bouncing up from the ground, but he has dropped a few cool touches into the wet shadow color on the columns to suggest the cool light coming from the sky. He keeps the sky and sand areas very flat, and he doesn't let the shadows get too dark.

In this quick study, a lot is just suggested. As with the previous example, the foreground is just a flat color, with the real color interest in the reflected lights bouncing into the shadows.

He achieves mood by means of restraint and understatement, and he achieves scale by setting up contrasts between large flat areas and small judicious accents. 

The sunset light infuses the forms by warming the silhouette colors as they near the sun. The colors get cooler as they get farther from the sun.

Many of the effects that I've described rarely appear in photo references. Photos tend to have black shadows, saturated colors, and an overabundance of detail. Lamplough's effects arise from direct observation, and that's why on-location sketching is so important.
Lamplough on Atheneum
If you like Lamplough, you might also like Walter Tyndale, Edward Lear (thanks, Greg) and David Roberts.
Thanks to blog reader David Webb for the recommendation.


David Webb said...

Hello James,
Some lovely examples of his work there. Mr Lamplough was very much in his element with these desert scenes.


Steve said...

Wonderful work. "Brush mileage" -- great phrase.

Mike Porter said...

Love these. Wonder if he knew or was influenced by Sargent.

E.Tiemens said...

Fantastic watercolors! I love the mood and palette in so many of these. Thank you for sharing.


Vladimir Venkov said...

I love his painting. Thanks James.

Jody Bryan said...

Thanks for these and other recent posts with watercolor themes. Your book and this blog are so helpful. Thanks for this info, Jody

Judy P. said...

Thanks for this guided tour, and for your sage observations.'Large flat areas and small judicious accents'; reading that I thought how a less confident painter, like me, has trouble with that. It's scary to leave a simple, large passage, and the need to pack in 'interesting' details is a strong one!

Shaun Stipick said...

Color so chromatic... it's like candy! Makes my teeth hurt. Fantastic!

Tom Hart said...

I confess: I like the way "brush mileage" sounds, but I don't know what it means. Would you please explain?

James Gurney said...

Brush mileage just means the amount of painting experience a person has. I'd say it's related to how direct and intuitive his or her decisions are, and that shows up in economical handling on the canvas.

Tom Hart said...

Of course! Thanks James. Makes perfect sense. (I had been trying to make sense if it in terms of the physical effect on the brush itself - like tire mileage...duh!)