Saturday, June 30, 2018

Paul Charles Chocarne-Moreau

Paul Charles Chocarne-Moreau (French, 1855-1931) painted realistic scenes of urban street kids having fun and getting into mischief.

He loved to contrast the black tones of a chimney sweep with the white of a pastry chef.

Often the two lads light cigarettes from each other.

The idea of unsupervised children in cities was a popular theme in 19th century European literature, such as Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens or The Match Girl, by Hans Christian Anderson. 

"Opportunity Makes the Thief"
Reformers were in interested in how neglected children could be corrupted by the temptations of urban life. 

Both London and Paris had large numbers of orphans and other parentless kids, who were disparaged as: "half-savage children, street arabs, street urchins, mudlarks, and guttersnipes — filthy, ragged, lying, cursing, and hungry, roaming singly or in packs like young wolves, snatching stealing, stone-throwing, destructive, brutish, and cruel when not merely hopeless and lost." 

In some moralistic and sentimental writings, the hardships of the street were sometimes regarded as a builder of character, but in Chocarne-Moreau's paintings, they mainly provided the stage for affectionate and humorous anecdotes. 

At the Circus
Chocarne-Moreau's portrayal of childhood were popular in their day, and he might be regarded as a forerunner of Norman Rockwell. 

"I warned you"
He studied under Robert-Fleury and Bouguereau, According to Aaron Scharf, he probably based his paintings on photographs, as most realist painters did in those days.
Pinterest collection of Chocarne-Moreau
Roe, F. Gordon. The Victorian Child. London: Phoenix House, 1959.
Scharf, Aaron. Art and Photography.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Final Weekend at the Gold Medal Show

This Sunday in Los Angeles, two artists I admire will lead tours of the Gold Medal Show at the Natural History Museum.
• 1:30 p.m. - William Stout: Bringing Back the Dinosaurs
• 2:30 p.m. - William Wray: Urban Subjects and Redefining the Landscape.

I have two paintings in the show, one from Dinotopia and the other a paleoart piece.

Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

I mark the passing of science fiction writer Harlan Ellison (1934-2018) with this wraparound paperback cover that art I did for his novel “Phoenix Without Ashes.” 

The story was based on a TV script he wrote called "The Starlost," about people who discover they're living on a generation starship. 

The production of the paperback book got hung up in some dispute Harlan had with the publisher, so it didn't get past the proof stage in the paperback version, but was later released on a hardcover dust jacket by IDW press.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Adolph Menzel: Obsessed with Drawing from Life

Adolph Menzel was always prepared to draw. One of his overcoats had eight pockets, each filled with sketchbooks of different sizes. On the lower left side was an especially large pocket which held a leather case with a big sketchbook, some pencils, a couple of shading stumps and a gum eraser.

His personal motto was 'Nulla dies sine linea' ('Not a day without a line'). He drew ambidextrously, alternating between the left and the right hand, sometimes on the same drawing. He was known to interrupt an important gathering by pulling out his sketchbook, sharpening his pencil, casting an eye around the room, and focusing on a coat, a chair or a hand. This sometimes brought the proceedings to a halt until he finished. But he preferred to draw people unawares. Once his friend Carl Johann Arnold awoke from a nap to find the artist busily drawing his portrait. 'You just woke up five minutes too early,' Menzel told him.
from "Adolph Menzel Drawings" edited by, and signed by James Gurney

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What it was like to sit for Sargent

Dr. William H. Welch and three of his colleagues sat for John Singer Sargent, and here's how it went.

The Four Doctors by John S. Sargent, 1906.
The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore
"The first sitting was taken up with trial groupings; the following ones singly and in pairs. The artist talked incessantly of everything and smoked cigarettes continually while he worked. The boldness and accuracy of his work conveys the impression that he sits steadily at his easel.

"This, however, is not the case. He walked back and forth, talking and smoking, but when at the picture his brushwork was rapid and precise. At one of our group sittings he seemed in despair, saying: 'You all seem so much alike—four white dots on a canvas. It is not a picture.'

"With that he approached the canvas and passed the brush rapidly before it. 'I have it!' he exclaimed. 'There is a big Venetian globe in my other studio. If there are no objections, on medical grounds, it will make the portrait a picture.' I replied that there were no objections to its introduction: in fact, I thought it would be symbolic of Dr. Osler's fame encircling the earth.

("Unfortunately, the globe was so massive it could not fit through the studio door. Undeterred, Sargent simply directed that the doorway, and a good chunk of the wall, be chopped to permit the object's entry."—Gazette)

Welsh continues: "We each averaged two sittings a week, which owing to the artist's press of work, he was frequently getting mixed with the sittings of others, one of whom was Lord Roberts, who broke in on us several times. Dr. Osler gave the artist the most trouble. Sargent complained frequently that Osler was 'fidgety.' My head he painted on a single impression. The present portrait of Dr. Osler is the third attempt. He did not attempt to 'niggle' the first two into acceptability, but rubbed them out each time.

"Sargent's affability and unaffected simplicity are engaging, and his broad interests make him an interesting talker. He lent to simple incidents of the street the same penetration and humor that attended his remarks on art. At the time of our sittings he was anxious to finish his work in London and get to Syria in order to make sketches for his unfinished decorations of the Boston Public Library, which seemed to have become a great burden on his conscience. Contrary to the general
impression that Sargent is difficult to sit for, I never while before him felt that I was being scrutinized."
Source: Brush and Pencil, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Mar., 1907), pp. 95-99
More about the painting "The Four Doctors" online at JSS Gallery.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Collecting Art Images Before Google

How did people collect art images before Google? Here's how it worked in 1891. In the back of an art magazine, you would see a small ad like this: 

First thing you would do is find an envelope, put 15 cents in stamps or coins into it, and mail it to the Boston address.

Wait a week, and you receive a printed catalog showing—or perhaps just listing—the names of all the images they have on offer. Now choose carefully. "Ancient" would include sculptures and paintings through the Renaissance. "Modern" would include what we think of now as contemporary academic realism.

These "cabinet size" (or postcard size) prints are only in black and white. They're thin paper prints, not mounted to stiff cardboard, as at right. They will cost you the equivalent in today's dollars of about $3.00 each, or about $35 per dozen.

The catalog would have an order form printed in the back or they might give you separate order forms. You would fill one out, enclose payment (cash or check) and mail it back to Boston. Wait another week and the photographic prints would arrive in your mailbox.

Total elapsed time: between two weeks and a month, depending on where you live.

What then would you do with these cherished images? You could frame them, pin them up on your studio wall, mount them into a photo album, place them in individual cardboard folders with a cutout window, or classify them in separate folders in a filing cabinet.
Tip: If you want to collect images online, don't use Google. Use DuckDuckGo, which lets you view and download an image file directly, and doesn't track your searches..
Thanks, Keita

Monday, June 25, 2018

Navigating the Middle Path

Like many painters from Eastern Europe who studied in Paris during those golden years of the 1870s, Lajos Deák-Ébner wanted to apply the achievements of the plein-air tradition without giving up the disciplines of accurate drawing, storytelling, and multi-figure composition.

Lajos Deák-Ébner (Hungarian, 1850-1934) Return of the Harvesters

The artist in France who exemplified this middle path was Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884), who was an inspiration to many regional juste-milieu movements (the term means 'middle path' or 'happy medium'), not only in Hungary, but also in Spain, England, Scotland, and America.

The figures in Deák-Ébner's painting are painted with life and light, and they're developed like characters in a play: a woman with hands on her hips argues with a young man, and a young woman cradles a sheaf of grain in her apron.
Lajos Deák-Ébner on Wikipedia
Previously: Juste-Milieu

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gouache Tests: Consistency, Smell, and 'Re-Wettability'

Illustrator Catherine Gura asked me some questions about the paint consistency of gouache, and I wasn't sure of the answers, so I asked her to do some tests and report back. Here's what she found:

"The test: first, I took six different brands of gouache and tested them right out of the tube. Then I placed fresh paint into full size pans and let them dry for five days, at which time I reactivated the gouache with water and painted.

The Brands 
Utrecht Designers

14 and 15 ml. tubes of gouache (Winsor and Newton)
a #6 brush so I could get a good load of paint 
and glycerin (by Rublev), vegetable source.

Glycerin and Gum Arabic Tests
I added three drops of gum arabic to a pan of Winsor and Newton gouache, and added three drops of glycerin to another pan of W and N gouache, and let them dry for five days, and reactivated them.

Results: Paint consistency
All of the gouache brands were thicker and creamier right out of the tube. With the exception of Winsor and Newton, I found it difficult to reactivate the paint: the gouache was noticeably thinner and felt like using watercolor. The W and N was thinner, too, but less resistant to rewetting.

Winsor and Newton: the original gouache cracked minimally in the pan; the pans with gum arabic and glycerin did not crack at all. The gum arabic made the gouache a little glossier; the addition of glycerin was the glossiest.

Results: Smell
Schmincke: an older tube smelled badly, the second tube was new, and had only a slight chemical smell
Holbein: no smell
Daler Rowney: slight smell
Utrecht: strong petroleum smell
M. Graham: slight chemical smell, did not smell of honey
Winsor and Newton: mild chemical smell: like school poster paint

• For best results, I would recommend working with gouache directly from the tube.
• If one wished to make a portable palette, one could set up pans of gouache: I would recommend W and N or Schmincke.
• Gum arabic made the gouache slightly glossier, and glycerin the glossiest, but both were thinner.
• I will continue to work with Winsor and Newton. For the price, I did not find Schmincke noticeably better than W and N, but I tested only one color.
• I would highly recommend avoiding Utrecht: the petroleum smell was awful.
• Holbein was thick and creamy.
• Winsor and Newton gouache dries with a slight sheen without any additives.

Here is my chart: I had to patch my scan together, and a photo of my paints."
Thank you, Catherine. Check out her website
Previous posts:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Frank Millet at Sea

Frank Millet was a painter, muralist, illustrator, and sculptor. He was a friend of Howard Pyle, John Singer Sargent, and Mark Twain. 

He's seen here with some nautical murals. Unfortunately he lost his life on the Titanic, and was last seen helping women and children get onto the lifeboats.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Challenge: Paint a Parking Lot

Painting by Scott Lloyd Anderson
There's beauty everywhere, right? Well, how about in a parking lot?

That's the subject for the next GurneyJourney on-location painting challenge. We've done this before with gas stationsgraveyards, weeds, and outdoor markets, and you've created stunning artwork.

Art in a parking lot
I invite you to paint some interesting aspect of a parking lot. You might paint a view across a lot, with or without cars. You could emphasize a light effect, an interesting sign, or a cluster of shopping carts, or a little bit of nature alongside the lot. It can be a New York vestpocket parking lot, an underground parking structure, or a suburban big-box lot.

How does the challenge work?
Everyone can upload their examples to this special Facebook event page. I will choose a Grand Prize winner and five Finalists. Each receive a coveted "Department of Art" embroidered patch, and the Grand Prize winner will also receive a free tutorial download.

I hesitate to call it a "contest" because there's no entry fee and the spirit is more about cooperation, community, and camaraderie than competition. We're all at different levels of skill and experience, but we're all out there braving the elements and trying out new painting ideas.

Painting by William Wray
• Must be painted outdoors, or at least mostly outdoors.
• The composition can include the scene beyond the parking lot, but the parking lot itself itself must be a part of the scene.
• You can focus on the ordinary aspects, the sublime aspects, the ugliness, or the beauty. Just make it  interesting. 
• All physical painting media accepted, such as oil, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, acryla-gouache, alkyd, casein, or water-soluble colored pencils.
• No limits on palette of colors.

• You can enter as soon as you finish the piece, but no later than the deadline: Friday, July 27, 2018 at midnight New York time. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, August.

Bird's Foot Trefoil, donut wrapper, and plastic bottle
alongside supermarket parking lot
Submission Guidelines
• Free to enter
• It must be a new painting done for this challenge. In addition to a scan of the final painting, your entry must include a photo (or video) of your painting in progress in front of the motif.
• Upload the images to this Facebook Event Page. If you don't have a Facebook account, please ask a friend with an account to help you. Please include in the FB post a mention of what medium you used, and if you want, a word about your inspiration or design strategy, or an anecdote about your painting experience.
• In addition to the Facebook event page, you can use the hashtag #parkinglotchallenge on Instagram or Twitter to see what other people are doing.
• If you end up doing more than one entry, please delete your weaker entry so that we end up with just one entry per person.

I'll pick one Grand Prize and five Finalists. All six entries will be published on GurneyJourney, and all six will receive an exclusive "Department of Art" embroidered patch. In addition, the Grand Prize winner receives a video (DVD or download) of their choice. Everybody who participates will have their work on the Facebook page, too.
Check out the previous results for gas stations, graveyards, and outdoor markets.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Church's Parthenon Sketches

An exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut features the on-location paintings that Frederic Church (1826-1900) did while traveling.

When Church ventured to the Old World in the late 1860s, he decided to visit Athens to paint the Parthenon, "the finest edifice on the finest site in the world."

His studies are on paperboard, with thin, deftly applied semi-transparent layers of oil over a careful pencil drawing, resulting in an almost photographic level of capture.

Church's view of the Parthenon at night captures an unusual light effect at night. The curators say: "Notice the red glow illuminating the white marble of the Parthenon. It was a special day in Athens marking a visit by the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Greeks illuminated the temple with striking fire effects, and Church documented the rare event."

The main focus of his study was this view of the Parthenon, which presents the ancient monument as a noble ruin, surrounded by wild rubble. In fact, he would have had to screen out the bustling city of Athens that crowded many views of the site. 

The structure itself had been almost perfectly intact until 1687, when a Venetian mortar shell hit the building and touched off gunpowder that was being stored there by the Ottoman Turks.

Most of the original paintings in this post are currently on exhibit in the Wadsworth Atheneum show, along with Church's paintings (both sketches and big studio works) portraying Jerusalem, Petra, and other exotic places. The exhibit will be up through August 26.

There's a handsome oversize catalog "Frederic Church: A Painter's Pilgrimage" if you can't make it to the exhibition.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Book Review: Homer and the Camera

A new exhibition called ‘Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting’ opens this Saturday at Bowdoin College in Maine.

The show and the associated catalog examine the longstanding engagement of Winslow Homer (1836-1910) with various aspects of photography: its purely visual effects, its usefulness as a picture-making tool, and its role in shaping the artist’s public image.

"Winslow Homer, Charles S. Homer, Sr., and Sam at Prout’s Neck,"
ca. 1884, albumen silver print, by Simon Towle. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
I had always assumed that Homer was camera shy and there are few photos of him, but recent scholarship has turned up new discoveries, many of which are included in the exhibition.

Homer’s interest in photographs gained momentum during his time as a sketch artist covering the Civil War. He collected photographs that were taken by others, which helped him visualize the scenes he portrayed for the popular magazines.

By the 1880s, he sought fresh inspiration for his artwork, so he traveled to Europe, and he bought the first of three cameras.

Though he never wrote about his use of photographs as reference, the authors explore the various ways his art was shaped by the camera, a tool that could simultaneously capture accurate information and deceive the viewer.

His painting of a fish in mid-leap was his painterly response to the ability of the camera to freeze action. Though probably not based directly on a photo, the very idea of painting a moment from fast action was unusual in the nineteenth century, when most other artists would have painted a fish as a still life object.

The exhibition and book contain other insights into Homer's process, including doll-size mannikins with simple costumes, which he used for reference when drawing and painting working-class women.

The exhibit ‘Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting’ is the product of years of study by Bowdoin art historian Dana E. Byrd and museum co-director Frank H. Goodyear III. Bowdoin College hosts the first showing of the exhibition, which travels in November 2018 to the Brandywine River Museum.

The catalog is 208 pages with 138 color illustrations, hardbound, and published by the Yale University Press. The exhibition will be up from June 23 - October 28, 2018.
Other books that explore the relationship between painting and photography:

Art and Photography by Aaron Scharf, 1968. Covers the influence of photography on portraiture, landscape, realism, and impressionism.

Shared Intelligence: American Painting and the Photograph, Edited by Barbara Buhler Lynes, 2011. Chapters on Eakins, Remington, Steiglitz, O'Keeffe, and Bechtle. In this book the main emphasis is on modern painters.

Painting and Photography, 1839-1914by Dominique de Font-Réaulx, 2012. Textbook-style coverage of the intersection between realist painters and the photographic image, with chapters on genre photography, photographing the nude, portraiture, and painters who were also photographers.

The Artist and the Camera: Degas to Picasso. Oversize book with features on key artists who used photography.

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera. Shows Rockwell's reference photos compared to his finished illustrations, as well as information about how he took photos and how he changed them to suit his purposes.

Previously on GurneyJourney
Using Photo Reference

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Waterfall City demo

Here's the demo painting of Waterfall City, painted while looking at a rough maquette. 

I did the painting for a workshop audience at IMC (Illustration Master Class) in Amherst last week. (Link to video on Facebook)

Photo: Irene Gallo
Total time: 1.5 hours.
Camera: Canon M6 camera positioned on second tripod.
Medium: Casein over a green-gray casein underpainting in a Pentalic sketchbook.
Colors: White, light red, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue.
Final glaze: Payne's gray watercolor with acrylic medium.
Varnish: Acrylic spray Crystal clear.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Art Talk Podcast: Studio Ramble to Ron

The Golden Palm Tape Network was a 1980s precursor of podcasting, where a small group of far-flung artists kept in touch by recording circulating ideas and readings via tape cassettes. (Video link

This one is addressed to my friend Ron Harris of southern California, a comic artist, collector, and art historian who still comments on this blog.

Sandor Bihari -- Before the Judge
Listening to the tape is a reminder to me of how it was in the 1980s. Discovering obscure information required sleuth work at libraries and used bookstores, plus the cooperation of friends with similar interests. 

The primary members of Golden Palm Tape Network were: 

Here are links to some of the books and artists referenced.

Books (links mostly go to Amazon)
The History of Modern Painting by Richard Müther 

Artists Mentioned (links mostly go to Wikipedia)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

How to Apply the Warm-and-Cool Approach

Gary asks about the warm-and-cool approach: 

"I can not see if there is, or should be, a rationale for when a warm or cool tone is used. I believe that this approach brings life to a drawing but do not understand how to best apply it."

Jim asks: "I would also love a good explanation of the warm/cool approach. Obviously the value must be correct, but how does one decide to use a warm or cool color? Is it based on local color of the object? Is it based on light vs. shadow? Is it based on a combination of both? If so, which trumps the other when they conflict? That is, what color should be used to depict a cool shadow on a red ball? What elements are portrayed as gray (an even mix of warm and cool) within a picture? It's worth figuring out, because it's amazing how much "color" can be achieved with just Burnt Sienna (warm) and Ultramarine Blue (cool)."

Richard Parkes Bonington
Gary and Jim, The way I think of warm and cool is that I'm basically doing a value study, but just taking the first step toward color. The warm pigment might describe an area lit by a warm light source, or you might use the warm color to suggest a local color that is intrinsically warm, such as an orange building. If the warm-cool exercise is a preliminary study for a painting that you intend to paint later with full color, the study will give you an impression of what the final will feel like. The limitations of chroma and hue choices keeps you from straying too far away from making primarily value-oriented decisions. 

It's very similar to the way musical composers will figure things out on the piano and then build their orchestration. A composer might work out the melody, rhythm, and chord structure before deciding on the instrumentation.

A simple warm and cool palette such as ultramarine vs. raw sienna is also a worthy approach for finished works. Many painters of the past sought the muted harmonies of warm and cool to achieve a feeling of quietude, dignity, or austerity.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Keepers of the Flame

NC Wyeth, illustration from Treasure Island
The new exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum explores the lineage of academic painting and how its branches connected to the Golden Age of American Illustration.

The show, called "Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell and the Narrative Tradition," traces teacher/student lineages going all the way back to the Renaissance.

Dennis Nolan is the curator of the show and the author of the 216-page catalog. A teacher himself for half a century, he is interested in how the skills and knowledge needed to make storytelling pictures were passed from one generation to the next. 

Maxfield Parrish
The Art Students League and the Philadelphia Academy were important schools for training American illustrators. Many teachers there had spent time in Europe under the tutelage of French academic masters. 

For example, Maxfield Parrish studied under Thomas Anschutz, who was a pupil of Thomas Eakins, who enrolled with Jean-Leon Gérôme, who was taught by Paul Delaroche, who learned from Antoine-Jean Gros, who studied under Jacques-Louis David, who was in the studio of Joseph-Marie Vien. 

Gerome, Bouguereau, Laurens
It takes a lot of concentration to keep track of all the didactic genealogies, which call to mind the begetting streaks in Genesis and Matthew.

Mowbray and Benjamin-Constant
The teacher-student lineage story leaves aside important forces that shape and define an artist. Nolan ignores other formative influences, such as the inspiration that Rockwell took directly from artists he never met, from his contemporaries, and from Modern movements. 

When Rockwell listed the artists he studied in his student days and who he admired later, he didn't mention his teachers (George Bridgman and Thomas Fogarty):
"Ever since I can remember, Rembrandt has been my favorite artist. Vermeer, Breughel, Velásquez, Canaletto; Dürer, Holbein, Ingres as draftsmen; Matisse, Klee―these are a few of the others I admire now. During my student days I studied closely the works of Edwin Austin Abbey, J.C. and Frank Leyendecker, Howard Pyle, Sargent, Whistler.” (from My Adventures as an Illustrator by Norman Rockwell)
Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, The Language of the Fan
The curatorial approach of focusing on these teacher/student lineages also unfortunately leaves out a lot of women artists and self-taught artists, and it leads to the impression of all this art being created by a stodgy, backward-looking old-boy's club, when it's really not true.

American illustration was inclusive, inventive, popular and progressive. It embraced new technologies such as color printing, gave birth to new art forms such as comics, movies, and animation, and expressed the drama of contemporary life.

But these minor quibbles don't get in the way of appreciating the extraordinary artwork on display in this exhibition.

"The Byzantine Emperor Honorius" - Jean-Paul Laurens, 1880
The artist/teachers William Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean Leon Gérôme are central to the story and they're well represented in the exhibition, and there are many lesser-known artists who are worth seeing.

Nolan and the museum worked for years to negotiate loans of the paintings and drawings from both public and private collections. Unfortunately the show won't be able to travel to other venues, and will only be at the Norman Rockwell Museum.

NC Wyeth

Nolan dedicated the catalog "to my teachers, who taught me how to be an artist, and to my students, who taught me how to be a teacher." For visitors who are either students or teachers of art, this exhibition will be particularly affirming.
The exhibition will at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts through October 28, 2018.

The catalog "Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell and the Narrative Tradition"
Previously: Dennis Nolan and the Hartford Art School