Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sketching at Barber of Seville

I brought my pocket sketchbook to Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Barber of Seville) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York last night.

Linda Benson asked, "How do you sketch when the lights go down?"

Answer: I limit my means to black and white so I can see in super dim light. Once in a while there was a little spill light from the stage, but most of the time it was hard to see much.

I'm using just two tools: a black Caran D'ache Supracolor Watersoluble Pencil and a Niji water brush.

Maurizio Muraro played Doctor Bartolo, who is pictured in the sketch. On the mini-video, the voice is my great uncle John Gurney singing Don Basilio's aria "La Calunnia."

(Link to mini video on Facebook)


Unknown said...

James! I was at the same performance, sad I missed you! Wonderful drawing from a wonderful night <3

Sesco said...

I find this activity to be very similar to those who would experience an opera while holding a phone above the head of the person seated in front of them, looking into the minute display screen, attention upon the screen instead of on the actors on the stage, recording a video of the event instead of experiencing it. Birthings, concerts, weddings and fireworks displays are all being experienced through the phone display as a 'recorded for later viewing' method of experiencing life's events. As a stage performer, I would be frustrated not to have the complete, rapt, direct, attention of my audience. Professionals engaged for such recording purposes would obviously be exempt. I realize now that we artists have been the metaphorical 'holders of the phone' since the dawn of sketching, so I guess I must revise my opinion of phone holders to some degree.

James Gurney said...

Sesco, actually for me the opposite is true. Sketching is totally different from taking cellphone snapshots. It deepens the concentration and the engagement with the moment. In fact I often feel I'm not fully engaged unless I'm sketching. Musicians and politicians who have noticed me sketching them have often thanked me (and asked to use the sketches in their promo materials).

Sam, how cool that you were there too. Wasn't that the most spellbinding performance?

gyrusdentus said...

Holding the phone is Recording by technical means and ,to a certain degree, hinders concentration.

Holding and utilising the Penici definetely heightens your senses since it is more demanding on your attention Span.

Suzala said...

Ahh, my favorite opera at the met! Wish you would have captured the anvil moment. my Favorite! Nicely done though, Bravo, Encore!

Bob said...

Wonderful job, James! Well, I can't do this (or plein air generally) with GIMP! You got me, I'll have to obtain a watercolor sketchbook and the two tools you mentioned -- starting small of course.

Newt said...

I was inspired by some of your past concert sketches to make my own attempt recently, sketching my friend's band at a hipsterbilly bar in Nashville. I found the low light very frustrating - I'll have to try again with a darker mark-maker then a 2B. Thanks as always for the information and inspiration!