Friday, October 18, 2013

Gouache in Grinnell, Iowa

Jeanette and I continued our epic drive west yesterday, cruising along old US Highway 6 from Illinois across Iowa. Our goal: to deliver Trusty Rusty, our 1999 Toyota Sienna to our son, where he lives 9,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Alley, Grinnell, Iowa, James Gurney. Gouache in watercolor sketchbook, 5x8 inches, 1.5 hours.
In Grinnell, Iowa, we paused for a turkey sandwich and a sketch. We stopped at a sunbaked alley with view toward a water tower. Here's my sketch in gouache.

 I perched on my tripod stool, while Jeanette, having forgotten to bring a seat, borrowed a recycling bucket.

Here are four stages. After nailing down the drawing, I laid a warm tone over the whole thing, and then went in with opaques using a flat brush. I added some final accents and fine lines with colored pencils. Gouache will take the colored pencils better than casein will.

We then drove on into the night to Kearney, Nebraska. It was a windy night, and the gigantic wind propellers were spinning fast, with red flashing lights, as we pushed on west. The corn harvesters were going all night too, with floodlights glaring out in the endless cornfields.


Psycho James said...

Your work is really inspiring. I really feel there is nothing better than going outside to capture nature, there really isn't anything that compares to it! Keep up the great work! Much respect!

Jessica Deering said...

It's evidence of your great skill that you were able to make even Grinnell, IA look interesting. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your process with this painting. It's very helpful.

nuum said...


Please, drive safely.


Daroo said...

Great painting -- was the intention to use colored pencils the reason for your choice of gouache over casein?

Unknown said...

If I had known you would be in the
area I would extended my hospitality. I am sure thru Grinnell you headed right past
Des Moines on I-80 west bound.
Please let me know next time I will put out the welcome mat.

Eugene Arenhaus said...

James, there is a marked difference in saturation between steps 3 and 4 - the underpainting is blue and orange, but the final colors are much more muted and natural.

Is this due to the photo processing, or was it this way during the painting? Did you glaze, or overpaint, to bring the picture together?

Unknown said...

I was in Oregon over the summer and hiked out to see the Blue Pool in the Willamette Wilderness which is a deep striking sapphire blue that looks completely unnatural. Your painting vs. photo comparison reminds me of my struggles to photograph it and makes me wish I'd taken some watercolors with me that day.

Thank you for posting your paintings of the Rockies. I've really enjoyed seeing them through your eyes. I hope you and Jeanette have a good train and bus ride safely home!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and inspiring ...