Gouache In The Wild

Pain­ter and il­lus­tra­tor James Gur­ney shares some of the skills that help him cre­ate bril­liant paint­ings on lo­ca­tion

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Reviews - Pub­lisher Gur­ney Stu­dios Price $25 (DVD), $15 (down­load) Web www.james­gur­ney.com

Pain­ter and il­lus­tra­tor James Gur­ney shares some of the skills that help him cre­ate paint­ings on lo­ca­tion.

James Gur­ney is famed for paint­ings that show ei­ther imag­i­nary or, in the case of his di­nosaur pic­tures, longsince-van­ished phe­nom­ena. This sec­ond video from his In The Wild se­ries (fol­low­ing Wa­ter­colour In The Wild, re­viewed in is­sue 115) show­cases one of the key tech­niques James em­ploys to make the fan­tas­tic ap­pear so real in his work. Put sim­ply, he takes ev­ery op­por­tu­nity he can to paint out­doors, ob­serv­ing and record­ing the world around him.

James shows here why gouache is his pre­ferred medium for cer­tain sit­u­a­tions and lo­ca­tions. Its fa­cil­ity for lay­ing down flat colour, for ex­am­ple, makes it a nat­u­ral choice for ren­der­ing man-made ob­jects like the neon sign he finds dur­ing one visit. The video al­ter­nates be­tween teach­ing ses­sions that dis­cuss the ba­sics such as ma­te­ri­als and core meth­ods, and on-lo­ca­tion films show­ing James tack­ling a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent sub­jects.

Ev­ery­thing is pre­sented in a re­laxed man­ner and with the high pro­duc­tion val­ues it makes the video a de­light to watch. It’s so pleas­ing on the eyes and ears you don’t re­alise how much you’re learn­ing, which goes far be­yond the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of gouache.

As he paints the neon sign, for ex­am­ple, James talks about the dif­fer­ence in colour tem­per­a­ture be­tween ar­eas in sun­light and ar­eas in shadow, and how he adapts the hues to com­mu­ni­cate it. This study re­flects a broader theme in the video of how to deal with light that’s chang­ing faster than you can paint. For the fixed sign, James comes back the next day to fin­ish the pic­ture. In a ru­ral lo­ca­tion, he an­tic­i­pates how the scene will broadly look af­ter the sun has set, so that he can fo­cus on im­por­tant de­tails when the rel­e­vant mo­ment ar­rives.

If you’re keen to raise your own work to a higher stan­dard, this hour-and-aquar­ter with a master of the craft will set you on the right track.

Other media such as coloured pen­cils com­bine well with gouache, as James cap­tures the de­tail in this gas sta­tion scene.

This ru­ral scene needs a lot of prepa­ra­tion, but this frees up James’ lim­ited time at sunset

to cap­ture im­por­tant de­tail.

As he paints a neon shop sign, James uses his ex­pe­ri­ence to get a solid re­sult de­spite the ever-chang­ing light.

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