Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Turner Paints a Man-of-War

Once while staying as a guest at the estate of Walter Fawkes, J.M.W. Turner was asked to paint a watercolor of a British man-of-war.

His process of painting was extraordinary. According to an eyewitness, "He began by pouring wet paint onto the paper till it was saturated. He tore, he scratched, he scrubbed at it in a kind of frenzy and the whole thing was chaos -- but gradually, and as if by magic the lovely ship, with all its exquisite minutia, came into being, and by luncheon time the drawing was taken down in triumph."

Tomorrow —a new episode of Clementoons.


Matthew Kerr said...

A new CLEMENTOON! I was just wondering when we'd see that guy again!

Unknown said...

That suggests there were no areas of white reserved? Those clouds actually have tint? Or were scrubbed out?? And all that detail was worked into a wet surface? Remarkable.

dglenncasey said...

It's too bad that they aren't planning of a wide release of the film, Mr. Turner, which comes out next month in Europe. I would definitely be there to see it, but it looks like it will only be a limited, festival release for the US.

Dan said...

Perhaps there was a small amount of hyperbole in the eyewitness account?

Did Turner paint the ship from observation or from memory?

By the way, James, we just got our copy of your "How I Paint Dinosaurs" on DVD and watched it last night. Really enjoyed digging into the details of your process, especially how you begin with a compositional idea and then work from a variety of two- and three-dimensional references to bring the painting to life, all while remaining true to the original idea. That's a balancing act that seems characteristic of much great narrative art. I read recently that Bouguereau had a similar process, beginning with thumbnails, then copious studies, and finally a full-sized drawing, which he would transfer to the canvas before painting. And then he referred to both his studies and live models during the painting process. Once he was fully prepared, evidently it took him only a week or so to do the final painting of a masterwork. And these figure paintings were often life-sized.

JZino said...

I love Turner's work and I had never read this before! Thank you!