Friday, September 27, 2019

Your Questions about Painting

Vlad Kiperman
I always wonder how painters capture variable objects like clouds, passers-by, fluttering flags and such? In the time it takes to capture one of these, it has changed its shape, position and/or orientation. Do you memorize (does that take photographic memory)? Do you take a snapshot with your camera for later reference? Or is it a you've-seen-one-you've-seen-them-all kind of training? Also, painting a scene while setting up a video to capture it seems like complex stuff.
James Gurney: With flags or waves it's not too hard because they come back to similar positions. You just have to commit to a single phase of action. With people it's harder. I have asked random strangers to pose for a minute or two, and they've almost always been willing. I also often take a snapshot. For moving animals such as horses, you can bring maquettes of walking poses to set up in place. For more on the video capture methods, here's a blog post
Marilene Sawaf: I have been using casein successfully for a few years now and usually varnish with acrylic varnish after a week, but lately I like my work without varnish...was wondering if not varnishing would be ok for the painting? Also the casein varnish they discontinued was terrible, it became brown in the can and split in two substances, one brown liquid and another one a milky gray substance...I think I will throw it away
James Gurney: You can use casein with or without varnish. If it's a dark valued painting, a varnish can give it a lot of depth. But if it's a light, pastel key I think the natural matte surface looks best. Try some of the modern spray varnishes and see which you like best. Try both on test swatches and see what you prefer. And if you're using casein unvarnished, remember that even if the values of the darks are a little lighter, you can fix that after it's shot by adjusting the histogram in Photoshop.
Raysartjourney Hi James do you have an absolute favorite medium? I know you use pretty much everything watercolor, gouache, casein, oil, acrylic but what is your hands down favorite? And why?
James Gurney: Oil is probably the most infinitely versatile, and my favorite studio medium, but the mineral spirits are starting to affect me when I use it, so I keep it to a minimum and use ventilation. I'd put gouache first for a plein-air medium because it can be taken into so many situations where you couldn't think of oil. Since I use gouache in combination with watercolor, casein, and even acrylic and pastel, I don't think of all of those as separate media, but rather separate instruments in the band.
Monstahq: I see you use M.Graham watercolours which use honey as a binder. So do you ever have trouble with insects because of the honey?!
James Gurney: A ladybug landed on my last painting but I never thought it might have been the honey that brought her over.
Masonbanana Why use a red pencil for the under drawing compared to a pen or pencil? Or even a blue pencil 🤷🏼‍♂️
James Gurney:  I like blue pencils for lay-ins, too, but I just find that when the drawing melts a little bit into color it adds a little verve to the places where it shows through.

jplguedes: James, could you recommend a good art history book for me?
James Gurney: For a general art history that goes outside the usual party line, check out "Art: A New History," by Paul Johnson.

Nick Doe
 Did u saw off your brush handles? :D
James Gurney: Yes, I like the brush handles to be short. Partly that's so they'll fit in my pencil case, and partly it's because if they're too long they bump into the camera.
Michaelangelo Reina
: What do you do to combat impatience compounded by exhaustion?
James Gurney: That's one of the biggest challenges. Concentration is so hard to achieve, and even harder to maintain for hours. The key for me is to solve one set of problems at a time. I try to maintain a constructive level of dissatisfaction, and to hang in there until I really feel it can't be improved.
Avishek Banerjee In on-spot painting how do measurement technique is being accomplished?
James Gurney: The video where I show the most about the measurement technique is "Street Painting in Indiana."  I'm working on a whole video on measurement and methods for achieving accuracy.
Pamela Broeker  I am curious to why you put the thin layer of casein down if it makes the gouache not go on smoothly? I get the watercolor and gouache can be used together, but the casein step confuses me.
James Gurney: I like the fact that the casein layer is not too absorbent. I feel the same way about oil priming before an oil painting. It's not for everybody, and the manufacturer of casein doesn't necessarily recommend it. You don't have to use casein at all. I'm not recommending it, just explaining my process. You can use acryla gouache if you want.

Jan Karlsson
"Do you sell your sketch book gouaches? I think they are incredible."
James Gurney: Not really, because they're bound in sketchbooks. News about original works for sale and exhibit can be found on my original art blog.
Thomas Kauffman Do you use your sketches for studio work later on or is this as far as you take these.
James Gurney: I occasionally do sketches with the intention of gathering references for studio work, but most of these are done for fun, memories, learning.
Kathy Jenkins: Does the paper have to be primed before painting in a sketchbook etc?
James Gurney: No, you can definitely paint straight on the paper.

Chikkachinijohannady: "Why didn't you show the entire process? It suddenly got detailed after you said you hope they won't call you yet."
James Gurney: Sorry I couldn't show the whole process. It's really hard to paint with one hand and film with another, and the later stages of painting required me to use the left hand for holding the ruler. I had no tripod for the camera so I had to hold it in my left hand while I was painting. Toward the end I set down the camera because I had to focus and 'turn on the jets' so to speak.
Artwork By Mari: "Do you do all the camera work or is Jeanette also working the camera at moments? I find that working the camera distracts me so much when I am painting for my channel, so I’m interested to know!"
James GurneyYes, I do all the camera work. It's almost second nature for me, but sometimes I have to push the camera aside and focus only on painting. Sometimes I can get Jeanette to shoot a few angles, but normally she's too busy with her own picture. Here's a blog post with a shot list.
Nevington: When did you and Thomas Kinkade part ways in life? Was it because he went into painting cottages and you had your own ideas for an art career? just wondering... thanks again!
James GurneyEach of us got married, left Los Angeles, moved to places 3000 miles apart, raised families, and got busy with life. But we always remained friends and in touch and managed to get our families together and paint together every couple years.

Vadim Derkach: I have a question about gouache lightfastness. Do you pay attention to the lightfastness when you pick your colors? I have just bought 24 colors Holbein gouache set. Most of the paints in the set have a 2 or less lightfastness rating. Is a rating of 2 which means "Moderately durable colors" according to Holbein acceptable for artists? Do you paint with such colors?
James GurneyYes, I am concerned about this, especially when I'm doing work that will be exposed to light. Reputable manufacturers should list lightfastness ratings, or at least tell you the pigments on the label so that you can make an informed decision. I also recommend doing your own tests. Here are a few I've done:
Lightfastness tests for pencil and watercolor. and Fade test for gouache.


Daroo said...

"I try to maintain a constructive level of dissatisfaction"

This is the best description of a great mindset for the creative process. Too much critical dissatisfaction can be paralyzing -- while too little self analysis can send one flailing over the creative cliff.
Employ the power of positive pessimism.

Steve Gilzow said...

Before seeing Daroo’s comment, I also was going to highlight that phrase — “constructive level of dissatisfaction.” Well said!

Virginia Fhinn said...

This stuff is gold! I love these q&a posts. Have you ever considered teaching an online course? I hear Proko is looking for some qualified teachers for his new platform, hint hint.





Elizabeth said...

I had problems with the solvents from oil paints from the start. I spent the first month of college oil classes as high as a kite, until I discovered that the hardware store carried masks that filtered out solvents.

Mario said...

James, have you ever tried "water miscible oils"? I haven't, but I'm considering buying some. I don't use any solvents, which actually limits my technique, mainly at the beginning of a painting when it's typical (and useful) to use thinner, leaner paint: water miscible oils could be the solution. I was wondering if you have any experience with this material.

Mario said...

One more thing: if you use Liquin, check the label and do some research. Many people can't stand the chemicals in it.

Jim Williams said...

Dear James,
I've been using oils for some years and have found that I can dilute, glaze and even remove paint with Liquin or Liquol. Why do you bother to use mineral spirits? I clean my brushes in low odour turps but know people who do quite well with baby oil (petroleum derived).
Jim Williams

Jim Williams said...

Jim Williams : sorry not turps but low odour kerosene

janice skivington said...

Hi James! Long time fan here. One more question: If I start a lay-in on a primed canvas using acrylics, washes to draw outlines and lay in tones, is it okay to then finish the painting later back in the studio with oils? Acrylic washes under oil finish? Janice

James Gurney said...

Janice, yes, oils over acrylic is perfectly fine.

Unknown said...

As I'm sure you know, you can paint in oils without using solvents. For those you use a solvent thinned first layer this can be an issue and cause a change in technique. But there are now quite a few solvent free mediums on the market including a couple solvent free mediums made by Gamblin and another by M. Graham. And as someone else mentioned, there is the water mixable oil option. I would recommend Cobra or Holbein as they seem to have the least amount of issues as reported by internet forum members (I am a guide on such a site).

If you aren't already - using OMS (odorless mineral spirits) is the recommendation for the "safest" solvent. Gamblin's Gamsol is the one recommended by Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc. (I am not associated with Gamblin in any way).