Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Reviews of Color and Light

If you’re still undecided about whether to pick up a copy of my new book, Color and Light, I understand. I’m the same way. I end up deliberating for a long time before buying a book. For you, I offer this post to see if a couple of new reviews might gently push you over the edge.

My favorite mini-review comes from a reader named Amanda R.: "James: In a world of art-instruction seafood buffets, I thank you for teaching me how to fish.” Amanda, you got what I was trying to do!

In the current issue of International Artist magazine, there’s a longer review that goes into some detail:

Setting the Standard
"James Gurney’s new book, Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter,
is the book every artist has been waiting for One of the first things that is evident from James Gurney’s new book is that what the illustration world gained in Gurney’s successful career as the creator of the Dinotopia series, the fine art world lost. Gurney’s landscape, cityscapes and figurative paintings—many of which are included in the book to illustrate each section—are masterworks in their own right and he could easily be represented by any of the top realist galleries in New York if he chose that career instead.

"While many artist books end up being more vanity than content, Gurney’s book breaks down Color and Light in a way that I’ve never seen before.

"Gurney is able to get to explain the scientific aspects of color, light and shadow without becoming preachy or academic. In fact, his method of explaining even the most complex painting terms and techniques is simple, to the point and accessible to artists of all skill levels. Gurney’s inquisitive mind and personal desire to understand even the most difficult artistic concerns is what really drives the book.

"For example, instead of offering just a general discussion of shadows within a landscape or still life painting, Color and Light, breaks it down into smaller, manageable chapters on the separation of light and shadow, half shadows, occlusion shadows, three-quarter lighting, frontal lighting, edge lighting, light from below and even Contre Jour — a type of backlighting where a subject blocks the light.

"Gurney’s take on these topics is refreshing as, instead of falling back on overly technical explanations of such effects, he offers accessible and easy to use explanations aimed at actually helping an artist solve problems that come up during the painting process.

"For example, when discussing Frontal Lighting, Gurney offers this advice: “It’s a good lighting to choose if you want to emphasize local color or pattern—to feature a fashion or costume, for instance.” This is the type of sound, straight forward advice that Gurney offers throughout the book.

"Gurney’s understanding and mastery of light is only equaled by his explanation of color in the second half of the book. His pigment wheel is a true work of science and understanding, with pigments charted by hue, value, chroma and CIECAM hue angles. Gurney has a lot to say on color and asks artists to rethink the color wheel.

"To him, there are many problems with both the traditional color wheel and the Munsell System. He believes that the idea that red, yellow and blue are the primary colors is something that should be questioned. To him, any of the “infinite hues on the outer rim of the gradating wheel could make an equal claim as a primary.”

"Gurney’s proposition is to replace these older and problematic models with what he calls the “YURMBY” wheel. In this new version of the color wheel, the RGB is placed evenly between CMY to create a universal color wheel. For Gurney, the six equal primary colors then become yellow, red,magenta, blue, cyan and green.

"Every chapter in Color and Light serves a specific purpose and all of it is useful, valid, and tried and true methods of understanding how one can create three-dimensional images on a two-dimensional surface. His discussion of what he terms lightfastness—the resistance given pigment to fading as a result of expose to light, is an indication of the level he has gone to accurately explain all aspects of the painting process.

"At twelve complete chapters and over 200 pages, Color and Light is destined to become the new standard for artists from beginners to even the experienced artist looking to hone their skills or pick up authoritative information on any of the multitude of problems that an oil painter may encounter while practicing their craft.

"Even the index is useful — with a detailed glossary of terms, a comprehensive list of pigments and their properties (complete with a list of historic and not-recommended pigments) and finally a carefully thought out list of recommended reading (with titles ranging from Goethe to Ruskin and John Stobart) and internet resources."

More about International Artist Magazine
24 Amazon Customer Reviews


Petr Mores said...

I absolutely agree with Amanda. For me, the biggest general problem with art instruction materials today is that many people offer disconnected bits of knowledge that seem superficially easy to "get", but leave one as confused, if not more, in the end, without any real explanation. A self-taught artist like me then learns quickly to distrust these new books or DVDs and instead seeks out old, classic ones that have proven their usefulness to generations of artists. I know many peers who'd rather shop for Dover books re-releases than the current, self-promotion soaked stuff, even if by skilled painters.

Color and Light is really different in this respect. It is a book to really work by. For example, since its release, I have been extensively experimenting with the gamut mapping concept, returning back to the text whenever an uncertainty would arise, and I would always find an answer or a pointer there.

Another thing I have to emphatically agree with is the outstanding quality of artwork in the book, which gives weight to all the advice. I was stunned especially by the group sketching portrait studies, unpretentiously beautiful gems.

Actually, I would not mind the book being more "preachy" in the sense that someone so incredibly skilled as James has in my mind the authority to tell people how things are done. I'd savor every word of a master any day, (even though I realize I still have to find my own way). Which is why I visit this blog daily!

Katarina Aasgaard Strømsvåg said...

I just got Colour & Light in the mail a few days ago and so far it's been a goldmine of knowledge to me.
Thank you for writing it.

Bob Mrotek said...

When Color and Light first cane out perhaps it was a bit "pricey" for the average working stiff. Now that the price on Amazon has dropped down a wee bit I think that sales will improve. The content is priceless but not until you actually see it in your hands. Best regards!

Unknown said...

I decided this year to really take my art more seriously and study a bit more about colour and light. I just happened to stumble across your book and have been loving your clear explanations and beautiful work throughout.
(I'm sorry to say I had never heard of dinotopia - but am thrilled to have discovered it!)
Thanks - would be great if you could do some art instruction videos too - I'm a visual learner - no surprise there!

jeff jordan said...

I agree about the idea of your possibly doing a DVD How-to, Jim. I bought Donato Giancola's Mechanic How-To, and it was just what I needed to lose a lot of bad habits, break out the mahl stick and just jump in. All the books in the world wouldn't give me the information I got from watching Donato sit down and PAINT. I'm a visual learner, also. I'm sure I'm only one of many who'd love to see how you painted one of those gorgeous big images from the various Dinotopia books....

Claire Vrabel said...

I recommend your books to other artists whenever I get the chance... I'm one of those who never buys a book unless I can flip through it first or someone is giving a glowing recommendation...
Love-Love-Love your book :)

Colin Campbell said...

Thanks so much for this, Mr. Gurney. I ordered your book finally a few days ago.
I'm teaching Concept Art at MICA this semester, and am excited to get them all to look at it. It seems to speak to a number of things we've been talking about so far in there.

Anonymous said...

Amanda R.'s review is spot on!

sc0tr said...

Got the book for christmas. Love it :)

Dixon Leavitt said...

James, your post worked! It gently pushed me over the edge to buy your book. Can't wait for it to arrive.

Anonymous said...

I bought Color and light and imaginative Realism together and, within a week, I'd dumped every single one of my introductory drawing books except those by Loomis, Hamm and Bridgeman.

I wish I'd had them when I was doing my degree, but I'm making up for lost time now! Thank you!

Duece Fuego said...

Sir, I consider myself a member of the group, "most people," however I did not know that the sky appears blue due to the phenomenon of "Rayleigh scattering" until I read your fantastic book.

I recommend you rewrite the Sky Blue section something like: "Most people, except people like Jim who skipped that day in school, know why the sky is blue."