Saturday, March 12, 2016

Painting a Drainage Ditch

The air is warming and the water is flowing. The fields are grooved with drainage ditches to carry off the rain water.

James Gurney, Drainage Ditch, gouache 5x8 inches 
Sun-sparkles dance on the water surface. Under the water the drowned grass moves lazily in the current. In the sky above, the geese ply their lines northward. (Link to YouTube)

Abraham Maslow said, “The great lessons from the true mystics, from the Zen monks, is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s backyard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred. To be looking everywhere for miracles is a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.”  

Thanks to my brother Dan for the quote. You can read his blog about exploring estuaries here.

For more about gouache painting, check out my video tutorial, Gouache in the Wild.
Previous posts: Lightweight Sketch Easel


Gavin said...

I'm reminded of an old classic poem by Welsh poet W. H. Davies:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

What a privileged life it is to be an artist - to actually make the time to stand and stare, in this fast paced 24/7 consumer world.

Painting is a form of meditation; I find consciousness seems to fuse with the very thing we are observing, with a sort of Zen like connection.
Thanks for sharing the beauty discovered in the abstraction of a drainage ditch.

HNK said...

Thank you for this amazing post and video. The sketch is wonderful - I hope we will see even more videos of you painting. I think it was a tough subject - can you tell how long did you paint it?

hena said...

Your painting looks so much more colorful than the actual subject seen in the video!

Robyn said...

Thanks for a great quote.

Steve said...

Thanks to you and Dan for the Maslow quotation, and to Gavin for the Davies poem; wonderful reminders. For me, this painting joins the one you did of the mud puddle behind the car shop in May of 2011. Both striking examples of revealing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Rick Robinson said...

There is looking, and then there is SEEING.

Tom Hart said...

I don't have anything constructive to add, but I couldn't let the day pass without thanking you, James, and Gavin. The post, the quote and the Davies poem are wonderful.

Robb said...

Would love to do a Gurney book club on Maslow's "Towards a Psychology of Being" if anybody wanted to try something different together!

Roberto said...

“This is the gift – to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate, again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” –Abraham Maslow

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” –Henry Miller

Rich said...

Reminds me also of Walt Whitman's bulky volume: The book bears the simple and modest title:

"Leaves of Grass"

jeff jordan said...

For whatever reason, maybe because I was recently painting a drowned landscape in a pond, this one really got to me. Probably my absolute favorite gouache painting of yours, Jim. Magnificent!

Gayle said...

Just want to tag along my thanks as so beautifully expressed in all the above comments! It was also great to see and hear the geese flying team winging their way back to Canada! Yeah, bring on the spring and the prospects of plein air painting.

Bobby La said...

A ditch like no other! Extraordinary command you have James. Wonderful work.

Jared Cullum said...

Gorgeous! I hope with this little bit of warmer weather you might be tempted to dust off the ipad and do some more live 'concertwindow' sketches ;) It's always a highlight of the week when you have a new video to post.