Tag Archives: Gurney Journey

Stylistic Evolution

Early and late work by artists who went through a Modernist style shift.
Gustav Klimt, Sitzendes junges Mädchen 1894
Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1908-1909
Piet Mondrian, Fen Near Saasveld 1907
Piet Mondrian, Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930
František Kupka, Papal Ceremony, 1904.
František Kupka, Katedrála, 1912-1913
Walt Disney Studios, Snow White, 1937
Walt Disney Studios, Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom, 1953

Gustaf Tenggren, Juan and Juanita, 1926
Gustaf Tenggren Arabian Nights

By: Gurney Journey
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries
Source: http://j.mp/15gxGR8

Drawing Grids

When an artist wants to paint a scene at “sight size,” the painting or drawing corresponds exactly to the image that would appear on a sheet of glass placed perpendicular to the line of sight. 
If you were able hold your head steady enough and look through just one eye, you could view a scene through a window and trace the main lines directly on the glass. Then by transferring those lines onto a piece of paper, you would have a drawing that matches the observed scene perfectly.

Leon Battista Alberti, in his treatise “On Painting,” shows a wooden frame set up vertically in front of a city scene. The frame has a grid of black threads stretched across it. The viewer’s position is indicated by a vertical post with a loop at the top. This device has been called a “drawing grid,” “perspective grid,” “draughtsman’s net,” or “Alberti’s veil.”

All the points of the vista seen through that loop can be plotted on the grid. Those points can then be transferred to the paper on the table at right, which is inscribed with a similar grid. So if the steeple is at B3 in the grid frame, it can be plotted at B3 on the paper.


Josep Tapiró Baró’s Watercolor Portraits

Josep Tapiró Baró (1836 – 1913) was a Spanish painter known for his watercolor portraits of indigenous North-African people. (He is also known as José Tapiró y Baró)

His paintings push the limits of closely observed portraits in watercolor.
Up close, the textures are layered and the brushwork is varied, giving an iridescent sheen to surfaces like the skin and the shells, and a dry softness to the hair and fabric.
Here’s a Berber bride, painted in 1896. The original is in Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – MNAC, Barcelona. I don’t know how long such a portrait would take, but the reserves of patience of both the artist and the model boggles the mind. Google Cultural Institute has a file of this image that can be scaled way up to see the smaller details.  (more…)

Amazing Progress

I was really touched and impressed by a letter I received a couple days ago from blog reader Edward Morris, who was kind enough to allow me to share it with you. He says:

Edward Morris, before and after

“I discovered you a few years ago while reading an article in an art magazine about the color of the sky that you penned. I wound up buying your book Color and Light. When I started reading your blog two years ago, I discovered sketching. I tracked down your book you coauthored many years ago and learned that sketching is really more than just sketching!”


Ebb and Flow of Artists’ Reputations

Norman Rockwell, illustration from 1917, “The Ungrateful Man,” from the Google Art Project and the Norman Rockwell Museum

The reputations of Golden Age illustrators have risen and fallen over the decades. This Google NGram chart records the number of times their names have been mentioned in print.

Howard Pyle hit his first peak in 1900, but fell away after his death in 1911. He surged ahead in the 1920s, but I’m not sure why. Anybody know?

Norman Rockwell didn’t enter the scene until around World War I. During his active career he was best known for painting 323 magazine covers for the Saturday Evening Post, ending that series in 1963. In all that time his renown never surpassed that of Maxfield Parrish. Rockwell’s name was overshadowed by Pyle’s until 1970, when Abrams published the book Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator. The Norman Rockwell Museum started modestly in 1969, expanding to its current location in 1993, where it continues to build his reputation as his name became synonymous with small town life in America.

The names Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, and Andrew Wyeth were mentioned about equally through the 1990s, but Dean Cornwell is not as well known. That makes it harder for museums and publishers to market books and exhibitions of his work.
Wikipedia–more about the Google NGram Viewer
The Norman Rockwell Museum


Custom Watercolor Sketch Kits

In the 1830s, J.M.W. Turner carried a watercolor sketch kit in a wallet. “It’s a simple leather case with gauze that Turner would have literally stuck the pigments onto,” says Julia Beaumont-Jones, Collection Registrar for the Tate Britain.

Some of you have been sharing the amazing sketch kits you’ve made.

Joe Ongle says: “This is my custom Altoids mini palette, using self-hardening clay and tube watercolors. Half pans work as well.”

Chuck Pell says: “My kits are compact for pockets, using custom leatherbound archival sketchbooks and repacked watercolor chips….”

Michelle Spalding made one from a mint tin, “with a retractable cosmetic brush – keychain size with half-pans”


Sargent Thrashes a Farmer

John Singer Sargent’s (1856-1925) biographer Evan Charteris tells the story of one of the oddest episodes of the artist’s career, which occurred while he was staying in England shortly before Christmas, 1891.

Towards the end of the day he was riding homeward. He found himself in a field of winter wheat, a part of which he had to cross in order to reach a bridle path.

He was no agriculturist; he probably would have found it difficult to distinguish between a field of potatoes and a field of turnips. In all ignorance and innocence, therefore, he continued his way. His movements had been observed; through the twilight the owner of the winter wheat advanced upon him and without preliminaries launched out into a torrent of low abuse. Sargent was completely surprised.  (more…)

‘Watercolor in the Wild’ Materials

Here’s a complete list of materials for plein-air watercolor painting or urban sketching. This is a supplement to my instructional video “Watercolor in the Wild.”
I carry this portable of materials practically everywhere. It includes a sketchbook, paint box, brush set, and watercolor pencils, listed in detail below.

Watercolor Sketchbook
• I’ve been using a Moleskine Watercolor Album (5 x 8.25 inches)  I like the fact that it opens flat and I prefer the landscape format. The paper is 90 pound weight (about as stiff as card stock), a bit on the light side for watercolor, and 36 pages.
• I also recommend the Pentalic Watercolor Journal (5 x 8 inch), which is priced about the same but has better paper than the Moleskine — 140 lb cold press, 100% cotton paper. With the heavier paper, it has fewer pages (just 24). It has extras such an elastic strap, a back pocket, an elastic brush-holding sleeve, and a placeholder ribbon.
• The Global Art Materials Watercolor Book (5-1/4 by 8-1/4 inch) is a similar alternative with a linen cover.
• Or the Stillman and Birn Beta Hardbound Sketchbook (5.5 x 8.5 inches) This is a vertical book, which has great paper but doesn’t open flat.
• Or the Pentalic Watercolor Field Book (7 x 10 inches), for those who prefer spiral bound. It’s bigger, so check to make sure it fits in your belt pouch or purse.

To decorate the cover, I use One-Shot Lettering Enamel, which is very opaque. Paint markers also work fairly well, but they tends to wear off faster. I usually title the sketchbook with a phrase taken from the first page of the sketchbook.

Watercolor Set
There are complete sets available, such as the:

Magic Realism

Magic realism is a genre of art which endows otherworldly significance to ordinary things. The suggestion of death, the hint of history invading the present, or the sense of inanimate objects coming to life is woven into mundane reality.

Robert Vickrey 1926-2011

The movement goes back at least to the 1920s and originated in literature, with a special vitality in Spanish speaking countries. In painting, the movement was defined by the “Magic Realism” show of 1943 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The curators describe artists using “sharp focus and precise representation” to “make plausible and convincing their improbable, dreamlike and fantastic visions.”


Radio Sketch Artist

Blog reader Mike Sheehan is a sketch artist who works with his local radio station KPCC to provide visuals for radio stories on the station’s website. Here’s a short interview and gallery where he talks about how his sketchbook gives him a different perspective on news events.

A “radio sketch artist” is a media model that other GurneyJourney readers might want to try out. One way to make it happen would be to contact a reporter at your local radio station and send them scans of your sketchbook pages of local news events. Mike adds, “make sure they are getting paid for their work.”

Mike Sheehan’s website
3-minute Interview on KPCC