Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stone Church Graveyard

(Video link) On Tuesday I spent the morning sketching at an old graveyard a few miles from home. Just for fun, I brought along my motorized cameras to document the atmosphere of the place, and to give you a look at the work in progress.

Here's the final sketch. What inspired the outing was this poem: "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," by Thomas Gray. 

MediaSchmincke Watercolor Pocket SetCaran D'Ache watercolor pencilsMoleskine Watercolor Notebook, and various sizes of flat watercolor brushes. The fallen leaves and some of the rough textures are drawn with Caran d'Ache Water Soluble Pastels.

Shot with a Canon VIXIA HF20 and a Canon T3i , with time lapse using a GoPro HD Hero rotating on a kitchen timer at 5 second intervals. Camera moves on a DIY Lego camera dolly
Visit the James Gurney YouTube channel to see all my videos and to subscribe. Please share this video if you like it.


stevec said...

Cool. Do you have pictures of your camera rigs?

Ben said...

I always look forward to your "sketch documentaries"! This time I would like to give you a tip: When doing dolly shots and cutting them together, try to avoid several shots in a row moving in the same direction. It's more appealing and visually interesting, if the movement changes in each cut.

And the combination of the graveyard theme, your audio comments and the music is great! :D

Daniel New said...

awesome. this is my favorite video so far.

jeffkunze said...

Fantastic work as always Mr. Gurney!

How long would you say this piece took you?

Anonymous said...

Great sketch! Nice textures. I especially like the way you did the gnarly, brushy, leafless trees.

Hadn't read that poem before today. Had to read it a couple of times to take it all in. Loved it.

Cool Lego camera dolly!

- mp

Mike M. said...

You gave it all away with your last words in the video: "Who were these people? What did they leave behind them? What part of their lives remains immortal?"

This question, I think, is forever present in the mind of the artist. For some reason we are compelled to leave something, anything, behind that will endure.

The graveyard would be the perfect place to bring this ever present theme to the surface.

Erik Bongers said...

Wow, some really beautiful shots in this one. But I'll never be a fan of the "I'm talking to a reporter next to the camera" pose. It looks a bit artificial.

The stones look like persons in the drawing. Impressive.

James Gurney said...

Ben and Erik, Mike, and Dan--thanks for your feedback. It's really interesting to get such helpful responses just hours after posing a video. I'm always experimenting and learning.

Jeff, when you ask about the "piece," to you mean the sketch or the video? Sketch, about 2 hours, Video about 4.

Steve, I took a few outtake shots of the camera rigs, and will do a post sometime in the future, maybe after using them on another project (and working out a few more refinements).

Elle said...

This is a great video but I really love the ones that spend more time watching the painting develop on your page. It's so inspiring to see the images emerge and I pick up tips along the way!

Daniel New said...

I think the reason I like this so much is because it's basically a tiny movie of a train of thought and a small sketch... It gives us a chance to see the kinds of things that go through your mind when you're sketching. And even though we all love the instructional videos, I thoroughly enjoyed this in its own right and I hope to see more like it.

Steve said...

Always welcome these short videos. A question; at the outset of painting, you seemed to give the entire drawing, including the largest grave marker, a light green wash. That marker had large areas of white at the end. Did you use gouache, or did you lift the wash...or did that initial wash miss that area more than I realized?

Last year I painted a watercolor of the old graveyard at the end of my road. The graveyard's fence also serves as a pasture fence for the neighboring dairy farm. I was hoping to capture the mysterious quality evoked in the juxtaposition of cows grazing three feet from tombstones.

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Thank you for sharing the poem by Mr. Gray and that you were motivated by it to visit the scene.

It's very interesting to see the thought process that brought you to paint there, and the musings of eternity while you worked. And of course, it is quite fun to watch your sketch develop.

And it seems ironic to me that you would drain the color from the scene on such a lovely day... perhaps because it is very cold and grey here in north Idaho lately. When you sat down on your stool without even a jacket (in December!) I was very envious and thought "what a lovely sunny spot"!

But of course, after reading the poem and considering your thoughts, I understand why the scene wasn't painted in living color.

karlsimon said...

Nice work James, both the video and the sketch. One of my favourite places to sketch here in London is the Highgate cemetery. If anyone ever visits London you should definitely go there and bring your sketchpads!

Mary Bullock said...

Love cemetaries! Especially the old ones here in the northeast - they go back over 300 years. When I research the lives of the people buried - it is so humbling and thought provoking.
Great job on the video - thanks!

bella said...

That was a fun video! I like to see you work. I can't believe you can work with that tiny little thing on your lap. If that were me, I'd probably drop things all over the place. ha.

Nathaniel Gold said...

James I watch a lot of your films about you painting in the field and recently started doing it my self. Where did you get the chair you bring with you it looks comfortable and I'm looking for something portable.

James Gurney said...

Nathaniel, That's a LaFuma folding chair:

We got ours at Campmor a long time ago.

Joseph Miller said...

another great video -- Thank You.
Two questions: I'm interested in Steve's question about the wash and the white grave marker. Also, a more general question: what's the relationship between your small WC sketches and your larger work. Do you find that the WC sketches somehow inform your larger works? Is it good for the success of your larger paintings to do the small WC sketches?

James Gurney said...

Joseph and Steve, yes, that light wash went underneath the whole sketch, including the "white" gravestone. It's called a "ghost wash," very appropriate under the circumstance. I did use a few tiny touches of white gouache.

The relationship between sketches and studio work? It certainly keeps my drawing and painting skills sharp, and builds my visual vocabulary, but I do it as an end in itself, too.

Thanks, everyone else for your thoughts and feedback.