Yesterday I painted a half-hour still life demo in gouache for the Painting 1 class at Texas A and M, where I'm here this week as artist in residence.
|James Gurney at Texas A&M, photo courtesy Felice House|
The subject is a banana sitting on a red piece of paper. Painting a high chroma object strongly lit against a high intensity background is the same assignment that the students have done earlier. So they get to see me wrestling with the same issues that they have faced.
Every color that we see is a combination of the color of the light and the actual color of the surface (or "local color"). In this case, the down-facing planes in shadow are receiving reflected light from the red paper, shifting those color planes toward orange.
As the top planes turn toward shadow near each end of the banana, they catch the blue window light, which mixes with yellow to make green.
I make an effort to vary the edges around the form from soft to hard to soft. Nearly the whole painting is done with 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch flat brushes. I turn the brushes edge-on for the thin lines, and use the corner of the brush for the dots.
|Painting by James Gurney. Photo by Felice House|
These are the only colors I have on the trip. Traveling with carry-on luggage means cutting back the colors so that they fit in the 3-1-1 TSA bags.
The palette surface is a metal pencil box primed and then painted white with enamel spray paint. The palette is held to my lightweight sketch easel with Neodymium magnets.
The students ask great questions throughout the session. Many of them are using what they're learning from these painting exercises to inform them in their 3D digital lighting projects.
Seated to my right is the professor of the class, Felice House. She says that the assignment "The Banana on Red" is a teaching project that originated with her first painting teacher at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, named Sheila Provazza.
Whew! After that it's time for lunch and art talk with some of my student pals from the Department of Visualization. This week is going so fast for me and Jeanette and we're having a blast.
If you can, please come on by College Station tonight for my Dinotopia lecture. I'll be glad to meet you or sign whatever books you bring afterward.