Friday, October 30, 2009

Jules Verne Museum

The Utopiales festival here in Nantes is wonderful--more details soon on the amazing people and artwork we have seen, but first a few little side excursions.

We arrived before the event began, so had time to do a little sketching. I've been intrigued with this idea of doing fantasy sketches on location, with the subject in front of you for inspiration.

What struck me about the exterior of the Jules Verne Museum, right, was the way the historic building sits on the brow of a steep cliff, with a statue of St. Anne atop a long flight of stairs.

So I painted this 7 x 9-inch sketch on location, trying to imagine it separated from gravity on its own journey to another world.

I'm working on a separate piece of hot press watercolor paper, using fairly traditional watercolor. After laying in the broad masses of the sky, rock, and architecture, I further defined the details and textures using water-soluble colored pencils. This is a fairly fast way of working; the whole painting was finished on location in two and a half hours, but it would have taken me far longer to do the same thing in the studio.
Article on Presse Océan, link.


Finn Clark said...

Amazing! I love the details you managed to get with the wc pencil. I'd love to see around that museum one day too. I read 20k leagues under the sea and loved it.

By the way this is a great blog. The post about Rockwell and the camera was fantastic.

Erik Bongers said...

My first thought was: "Funny, this 'simple' watercolour works as a finished illustration and would in fact easily hold up next to that large poster on the building."

Only then I read: "...but it would have taken me far longer to do the same thing in the studio."

That's an interesting remark.
Fascinating how sometimes a doodle can hold up to a Pièce de résistance.

Worse - I'm sure many artists that start from 'thumbnails' are often a bit disappointed that the final work is a bit weaker than the original scribble.

Mary Bullock said...

So true, so true Erik!

Anonymous said...

Funny. I was thinking pretty much the same thing: "There they have the illustration for next year's poster ..."

Steve said...

Great painting. Love the symmetry of the rock below with the roof above. The statue's shadow reminds me of the dog's shadow on the Hudson River walkway. This painting is testimony to what can be done with minimal equipment and abundant talent. Minimal or not, the rock you're sitting on doesn't look particularly soft. I know I'd be carrying my little fold-up stool for a two and a half hour session.

The water supply looks truly minimal; are those two tiny cups and whatever is in the brushpen barrels all you used?

(After typing that question, the cosmos comes up with "hydro" for my word verification!)

eric said...

would have to agree with what everyone else says, this is a very strong peice and can hold up to many totally finished studio peices.

i think the emotioal impact of a sketch or thumbnail can be so strong it dosnt have to talke months to do.

infact in a studio peice you run the risk of finishing the work so much that it has no emotion what so ever. or you might forget what you want to say with the painting and end up confusing the viewer, or adding too much detail and end up having too many conversations with the viewer and taking away from the emotional impact....i guess, haha.

powerful lesson, but not sure if this is what you meant to teach today, haha, but good stuff either way!

eric said...

also i'm guessing that janette is getting all these awsome photos of you at work.

man, you got to give her more credit, i think its time we see a post on the woman keep us supplied with all the awsome behind the scenes photos...

these behind the scene images are half the reason i love this awsome blog!

CCG Coordinator said...

Great imagination to see what isn't there but could be! And great determination - two and a half hours on that rock! Man, that's gotta leave a mark. Enjoy France, as I bet you can have some good eats!

Mark Heng said...

Way Cool! I don't suppose you were ever a Roger Dean fan? This reminds me of one or two Yes album covers...

James Gurney said...

Eric, Jeanette says she's flattered about your nice comments, but that you're trying to butter her up so that you can win the video contest. The bad news is that she can't help you: you have to win the popular vote, but she's grateful anyway.

CCG: Sitting on that rock definitely left its mark. I couldn't walk right for hours.

Steve: next time I want to borrow your chair. Yes, just the little cup is all I had, except for the flask of whiskey.

Erik: So from now on I should just close up the studio and work outdoors. I get more done in less time and I get a suntan. You just have to tell me how to avoid the merde de chien.

Thanks, Finn and Mary.

eric said...

haha! i dont play fair, rule #1

but her documentation is very valuable and an awsome part of the blog. got to love any behind the scenes look you can get.

and i'm sure will come in handy for a long time to fans of your work.

Erik Bongers said...

No need to avoid the merde de chien.
I read in a book that you can dry it, spray-paint it with flat grey primer and use it as a reference for landscapes.

Mike Eppe said...

Absolute great!!

Roberto said...

Yes, Yes, Roger Dean and Rene' Magritte.
The darker blue towards the top of the sky and that warm glow from below the picture-frame really helps to add lift to the rock-mass, in addition to the perspective from your vantage-point at the bottom of the hill.
Is it my imagination or do I see a ghoulish apparition in the sky? It looks like a skull in the sky behind the statue... maybe it's just artifact from the water- colors, or the scanning and pixels, or my monitor's screen... naw, I must be mistaken. -RQ

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hello! What a great event it was these Utopiales!

What you draw in your article make me think about the castle in the sky. I think Jules would have appreciated all your work and talent.

Best regards, and thanks for your stay at the natal city of Mister Verne. It was a wonderful gift for everyone.

Luc, the piano player!