Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Your Comments, Questions, and Shares from the LiveStream

On Monday's live stream, we had people from Wales, Canada, U.K., Germany, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Slovakia, India, Phillipines, France, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Puerto Rico, California, Arizona, Texas, Baltimore, Ohio, and NYC (to name a few). Thanks to everyone who joined in.

And congratulations to Faisal Tariq  for winning the Best Question prize (Signed, First Day Cover of Australian Dino Stamp), Sherry Pound West for winning the best comment (You get a Dinotopia Collector Card Pack), and Deborah Secor for winning Best Share (You get a Department of Art Patch). 


WINNER: Faisal Tariq 
Does painting in Gouache help you with painting in oil? (Or more generally painting in one medium help with painting in another medium?)

The answer is YES. Painting in an opaque medium like casein or gouache is in many ways more like oil than it is like transparent watercolor. You can approach the sequence of steps in the same way (such as 1. toning board, 2. background, 3. shadows, 4. halftones, 5. lights, 6. highlights and accents.) The main difference is that with water media every decision is greatly accelerated. Gouache encourages you to be direct and economical with your brushwork. That is, it makes you think about a stroke, mix it, and lay it down with one touch, rather than fussing back and forth with it. 

When you return to oil, that economy of means and directness pays off too. You'll be a faster painter. Oil's properties don't encourage directness and economy as much. 

Transparent watercolor is almost a different animal from all the others. It requires kind of an inside-out thinking because you have to paint around the lightest areas, and that takes a certain amount of planning and deliberation. But at the same time it wants you to be intuitive, decisive, and spontaneous. All good qualities to bring to any kind of painting.

Other excellent questions (sorry I couldn't get to them all):

Charles Valsechi
Do you intentionally reduce the value of the light side to create more form? (The white head sculpture appears lighter than your painting.)

Yes, usually I restrict the value range of the light side and lighten it a bit, and I try to unify or group the values of the shadows. Then the painting becomes simpler, more poster-like, and more attention goes to the all-important light-to-shadow transition, which was the obsession of Sargent and others. 

BTW, I spray painted this plaster head to a light gray so that its brightest light would come close to the white of the paper. If the maquette was white, there would be no way to match the apparent values on a 3D form using  a white-to-black range of paint on a 2D surface.

Kent Gardner
Gouache -- Prior to watching your videos I never thought of it as a fine art medium. Is it true that historically it has used mostly by commercial artists for illustration that was to be reproduced?

Yes, besides all its uses in the design field, gouache has a rich history as a gallery art medium, particularly among French academics like Vibert and Leloir.

Wael Mizo ·
My Question: is there any way to darken specific colors in value for the shade sides of an object in shadow with its complement without losing its saturation, for example green or red - do objects in real world losing its saturation in their shadow sides along with value?

If you use the complement to darken a color, it will lose saturation. But that's OK because objects typically will lose saturation in shadows. Not always, however. If the shadow side is receiving strongly colored light that matches the local color, it may be higher in chroma (or saturation) than the light side.

Christopher Seubert · Thank you for the demo and all the information and instruction you have passed on. Truly enjoy your posts, videos, blogs and books. Question: who was your most influential instructor/teacher?

Ted Youngkin, my perspective teacher at Art Center, and also my high school teachers Bill Burnes and Bill Goggin. Beyond them, I didn't have too many living teachers. The ones I learned from most were from books, namely by Rockwell, Loomis, Speed, Solomon, Carlson, and Bridgman.

Max Chew Zishen I noticed you were flipping through your sketchbook and every painting is knocking it out of the park! Have you not had any clunkers or bad starts, or did you cut them out of the book?

Thanks, Max. I've had plenty of clunkers and bad starts. I'd say that about 20% are experiments that didn't work the way I had hoped. If I can't fix them, I don't cut them out. Instead I paint over them in casein and have another go on another day.

Joseph Matthew Sebastian Garcia
"I am just wondering how you might light this piece if you were to display it? The values seem cool, but I find, working with a monochrome palette in gouache, that the greys tend to look blueish. Also, does warm lighting even affect the overall look of this piece?"

I added raw sienna and ultramarine blue to the palette alongside the black and white in case I wanted to offset the cooling effect of white on grays. The piece should look OK in any light, warm or cool, as long as the relative color temperatures are good in the painting. But I wasn't too worried about the color temperature for this exercise since I was mainly focused on value.

Deus Ex Machina ·
Hello from Germany, i really enjoy the painting in the wild series! i was wondering if you have a certain technique for preparing and or exploring with color (e.g. watercolor) swatches in a sketchbook? Not necessarily for a certain motive, but abstract studies. Actually, I would love to see a in depth tutorial about making colored thumbnails :)

Yes, I have developed a swatch chart that I love to use for limited palettes. I don't usually paint pure abstracts, but instead look for abstract possibilities in real scenes.

Matthew Enns Do people look at you funny when you paint out in public?

I do like them for gouache and casein because they have good snap and edge definition, especially in the flats. Casein should be used with synthetics because the ammonia content can be hard on natural fibers.

Sam Gauss When you're learning a new paint medium, is this the sort of exercise you'd recommend? Grayscale?

Yes, for people new to gouache or new to physical painting, I recommend painting in black and white. It helps to reduce the variables, so you don't have to worry about hue or chroma.

Khoa Tran hi james,is the department of art a real thing? Like a club or something (I'm from vietnam btw)

The Department of Art is the name for me, my wife, and a few painting buddies of ours.  One of our blog compatriots, Steve, generously contributed a supply of embroidered patches. Sometimes we use the patches for special prizes. We made matching uniforms with our names and patches so that we look official when we're street painting. We also have traffic cones marked that way. 

Best Comment
Sherry Pound West Watching you while on my way to eye surgeon. May get interrupted by the surgeon!

Best Share
Deborah Secor
I really enjoyed your demo. I have a group of about 200 people and enjoyed sharing the live link, plus posting a screen shot I took as you said hi to us! The personal touch is very nice. Thanks so much. You two were remarkably able to handle all the challenges that came your way, including the technical ones. Great teamwork. :D
FaisalSherryand Deborah, please email me your address so I can send out your prizes.


Harry Mitchell said...

I have been meaning to ask this for a while now.
What to you are the biggest differences between gouache and acrylic?

Both seem to have similar properties - fast drying, opaque, can be thinned and used like watercolor, drying time can be extended, etc. Carrying a few tubes of acrylic doesn't seem any more difficult than carrying a few tubes of gouache.

Carlos said...

James, I'm curious about what you said ' I don't cut them out. Instead I paint over them in casein and have another go on another day...'

Since I'm starting on natural media, I too have a few tries that didn't come out as expected. Do you use casein because it doesn't reactivate with water, unlike gouache? Could you still paint over in gouache if you can't get casein? Thanks.

James Gurney said...

Carlos, yes, exactly. I don't want the ground layer to reactivate. If you can't get casein, I'd recommend using acryla gouache or tinted gesso (which works fine).