Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bringing you on six painting adventures

Tobias from Austria asked for more information about my new video "Watercolor in the Wild." I'll be releasing it this coming Monday, the 11th of August.

The video is 72 minutes long, all shot in HD video on location.

I did this study of a taxidermy Galápagos tortoise while sitting in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. I'll show how the combination of watercolor and water-soluble colored pencils is a fast way to capture such a textural subject.

There are six subjects in all:  a greenhouse, a miniature horse, the tortoise, an old carriage house, a Civil War re-enactor, and my wife Jeanette painting in a churchyard—plus an introductory segment on materials and methods. The emphasis is on portability and on working outdoors "in the wild" in sketchbooks.

The segments range between 5 and 18 minutes. Each segment follows a painting all the way through, from the first pencil lines, to the big washes, to the final touches.

I enjoyed the challenge of painting the pictures while documenting them on video at the same time. I did not use an outside film crew, because I felt I could capture the experience and the decision-making better if I did it myself. I got coverage from a lot of different angles, and made sure to show you the subject I was looking at. 

I feel that audio is really important in art videos, too. I accompanied each segment with a clear voiceover that I recorded later, reconstructing the specific thinking I brought to each stage. That voiceover is heard over the background sound of the actual environment, which is very immersive, so you'll feel like you're right there. I kept the music very minimal, just at the beginning and end of each segment, and not running throughout the entire video. 

Miniature horse filly "Rosebud" posed for me during a 12 minute nap, captured in real time.

My goal was to make a video that's practical and specific enough to clearly show you all the steps, but that is tightly edited enough to make it and hopefully entertaining and inspiring, so that it's watchable again and again. 

If you remember my previous post "Video in the Works," I solicited your input about what you like and dislike about art videos. I read those 81 comments very carefully and tried to learn from them.

To mark the release, all next week will be "Watercolor Week," with a free sample video clip each day of the week. Don't miss the launch on Monday.
To purchase the 72-minute video "Watercolor in the Wild":
HD download: (Credit Card) 
HD download: (Paypal)
BONUS FEATURES (a half hour of additional bite-size inspiration)
DVD: (NTSC, Region 1-North America) 


Arbi said...
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Arbi said...

I wish I could buy stuff online. unfortunately It would be very expensive and insecure(not sure if they will reach here) to order such things from here. However I've already learned so many things by reading this blog. Thank you very much for sharing, James. If I get a chance one day I will buy all of your Books and DVDs. Thank you again for this amazing blog.

Paschalis Dougalis said...

Just a question; Will it be possible to download it for people living outside the U.S?
Many thanks in advance!


Carol said...

I'm curious whether the videos of you painting will be real-time, or speeded up to save time - I do find real-time so helpful in learning how to work ... seeing how fast an artist works in "real life" ...

Dan said...

Hi James,

Personally, I disagree with the notion that videos have to be speedily cut in order to be interesting. Go back to the '60s and before, and you'll find that shots were much longer in general, and yet there were some amazing films. Fred Astaire, I recall hearing, preferred to do a dance routine in one long shot, followed by a skilled camera operating crew, so that it was evident that he performed the entire routine in a single take.

It seems to me (though I'm no film historian) that short shots and rapid cuts really began in earnest with Star Wars in 1977.

Generally: Timing is important. Speed is not.

When it comes to an art "how to" video, I'd much prefer a slower pace. I agree with Carol that it's helpful to see how fast an artist really works, to have a sense for when the artist in thinking before making a stroke or mark, etc. I'd probably honestly learn more from watching you do one drawing/painting from start to finish in real time than half a dozen drawings/paintings with all of the "uninteresting" parts edited out. In most art videos, these edits create a jumpy continuity, a deliberately compressed sense of time. This makes it nearly impossible to get any real feeling for what the experience was like for the artist, which is one of the things we beginners are often trying to get a sense of.

Before his big fight with YouTube over fraudulent copyright notifications, I used to love watching the videos of Paul Taggart, mainly because they were not condensed. If he painted for two hours, he posted a two-hour video. And he talked on the spot about what he was doing as he did it.

Anyway, please don't take this as a critique of your videos. To date I've only seen the short ones on YouTube, which were obviously meant to be compressed in time. Just take it as one dissenting opinion on what is or is not "boring." I'm trying to learn how to draw and paint, and therefore the most engaging and entertaining videos for me are those that best teach me how to draw and paint.

Looking forward to buying your video.


Jessica Diggins said...
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Jessica Diggins said...

This is such wonderful timing - I'm headed to Norway at the start of September, and it's such a beautiful country that I really want to delve into some plein air; but it's not something I have a lot of experience of! I love how you do studies on location and I can't wait for these little insights into the process.

v50howAsh said...

Hi can anyone tell me if the DVD will play in the UK really looking forward thanks!

James Gurney said...

Dan, I know what you mean. But "Tightly edited" doesn't mean speedily cut. There are some shots that are five minutes long, uninterrupted. However, I didn't leave a camera on a shot where nothing was happening onscreen, and I didn't want to waste time with repetitive steps. I'm of the belief that editing should be as tight as it needs to be.

Carol, most of the segments are shot are in real time, and with a relatively laid back pace that makes you feel you're watching the whole thing. Still though, tightly edited. Only one segment makes major use of time lapse.

Zane Parker said...

Hi James,

I'm finding your blog to be very inspirational! I'm a illustrator and graphic designer down here in the Philadelphia region and my corporate work is leaving me feel a little uninspired lately.

But, I'm trying to get back to my illustration roots and am planning to bring my new sketchbook and watercolor set with me on my family vacation. I'm pretty excited. Because of you I'm inspired to try and capture things from our first cruise to the Caribbean ! Wish me luck. Thanks for everything!

I'm planning on grabbing the release when it's ready for further instruction and inspiration!

monbaum said...

This is such a tease! I can't wait!


Ernest Friedman-Hill said...

I can barely wait!