Friday, January 15, 2021

Planning Waterfall City, Part 1

 The original painting for Waterfall City went through a lot of planning stages. 

I started with a lot of thumbnail sketches, trying to lasso my hazy mental image without looking at any references. One of my early ideas was to show the scene dramatically at night, with light from below.

Here are more early concepts for Waterfall City, some using pen and wash....

....and some little oil sketches, about 4 x 8 inches. 

Sometimes it takes weeks or even months for an idea to gel, and I need to generate lots of options to see if a feeling, and a story, emerges. I ended up with an eclectic mix of architectural scenes.

James Gurney, "Waterfall City" is 24 x 48 inches, 1988

The image appeared in Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time, 1992.


Giacomo | said...

This is most interesting, what i love more than the final piece is to see the mental process behind it, thank you for sharing those sketches! When did you paint these?

James Gurney said...

Thanks, I painted these sketches in 1988. The earliest version of Waterfall City goes all the way back to 1981.

MacDieter said...

What struck me the most was your admission that it may take weeks or months for an idea to ripen! I am often full of guilt and selfblame for the fact that I have ideas in my head but can´t put them into being spontaneously! Then I start to bring the idea to paper and give up on half way because it doesn´t work out immediately! I always thought it has to go from first pencil stroke to finished work in one slide like I see in your or other artists videos. Somehow comforting to see that even the geniuses have to put a lot of work into it, and even retrying and starting from scratch! Thank you so much for your candor!