Painting Animals From Life
PAWS FOR THOUGHT Master illustrator James Gurney tackles a deceptively difficult subject, as he reveals his tips for capturing the essence of animals
Publisher James Gurney Price DVD, $30; download, $15 Format DVD/download Web www.jamesgurney.com
Through his dinosaur work in particular, animals have become one of James Gurney’s specialities, and he shares his expertise at painting them in his latest video.
Usually, James features more projects of shorter duration in his videos, but this time he’s opted to present just two projects: a study of Smooth, his son’s husky-cross as he looks out the window; and a painting of Princess, a horse enjoying a wash.
The main problem with painting animals from life is that unless they’re asleep, they’re unlikely to stay still. A bonus segment after the two main videos offers some practical tips for getting animals to co-operate with your modelling requirements, but your main weapons are keen observation and a good visual memory.
For Smooth, James establishes a set pose early on, then looks for moments when at least part of Smooth (such as his head position) is in a similar pose, or uses his memory when Smooth is being unwittingly unhelpful. James makes it look easy, but there’s some serious skill being applied to make this work: you’ll likely need plenty of practice before you can pull this off.
Princess is enjoying her wash so much that she keeps fairly still, but the staff milling about her at the stable are another story. Here, James assembles a composite image based on the poses that the stablehands adopt at different times. He ends up with a moment that didn’t happen as it’s presented, but represents a broader period of time in one image.
Both projects are as absorbing as you’d expect from James. There’s plenty of advice on colour, values and making corrections with physical paint media, as well as lots of local character from the locations that he uses.
This painting is actually a composite that shows what different stablehands were doing at different times.
In Painting Animals From Life, James shows how he works in co-operation with animal behaviour so he can capture them on paper.
With the basics of the horse and environment laid down, James chooses one of the positions that a stablehand adopts and starts painting his scene.
James Gurney knows that Smooth the husky-cross has a favourite spot by the window, so he sets up his painting kit nearby.