Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mary Whyte Demo

Watercolor painter Mary Whyte gave a spellbinding live demonstration at the Portrait Society of America conference yesterday here in Washington, DC.

Whyte is beloved for her sympathetic portrayals of the working South, and her images of the African-American Gullah women of Johns Island, South Carolina.

She captures her subjects in everyday actions, sweeping the floor, sewing on buttons, or putting on shoes. "All my life I've been interested in the in-between moments," she said. As she laid on wet washes of color before an audience with most of the 700 attendees, she described how she tries to "hold onto the biggest brush you can for as long as you can." 

Taking a break from painting her longtime model Tesha Marshland, she described her process for creating her compositions, and she showed sketches done from her imagination in advance of shooting reference.  She said she uses photos "for information, not for direction."

"After I have an idea for a painting," she explained, "it's important to think how can I say more? Sometimes that means taking things out of a painting."


Connie Nobbe said...

I just love your watercolor figure sketches! It really inspires me! Wish I could have attended this year. I need to make a goal of going next year!

Naples said...

Slightly off topic for this post, but I was wondering about something, Mr Gurney, in regards to some of your gouache paintings you've been showing on your blog.

Do you use zinc white or permanent\titanium white in your gouache palette? A lot of the sets I see these days seem to come with zinc white as opposed to permanent white, and I'm not entirely sure of the difference between them, as both have the same opacity and permanence ratings on the colour charts.

Thanks for your time.

CC said...

Thanks so much for turning me on to Mary! What an incredible artist and person! And love your sketch of her! ♥

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Thank you for the post about Whyte
She's a favorite artist. Her sunlight speaks volumes.

greenishthing said...

it's great to see a white painter paint so many afro american - Mary's respect for them shows, they are full of strong personality, intelligent women, plus it's a pleasure to see real people doing everyday things in a painting instead of posed or grand portraits.
I also hope that this will change mentalities and that the world of painting will be more ready than it was before to accept afro american painters - don't tell me black people can't paint, people just try to discourage them at every occasion re: the rant of a certain black astrophysician who spent his youth being asked "don't you want to be an athlete instead?"
We need more painters of all origins, cause each one of them will bring smething new and make our art richer