Sta­tion Points

Tips & In­sights from James Gur­ney Paint­ing An­i­mals from Life

International Artist - - Contents -

For this ar­ti­cle I’m go­ing to paint a dog and a horse from life. These do­mes­tic friends make good artists’ mod­els, be­cause they don’t mind if I set up my easel close by and qui­etly ob­serve them. But you can’t ex­pect any an­i­mal to hold still for long stretches of time. Dogs will stay alert for rel­a­tively short ses­sions. But then they go to sleep, scratch an itch or walk away. It’s a good idea to ob­serve them for a while to iden­tify a ha­bit­ual rest­ing pose. Horses shift their weight, and they re­turn to graz­ing or doz­ing. If there’s a han­dler to hold them by a lead rope, they can at least re­main in an ap­prox­i­mate po­si­tion. Why paint live an­i­mals? Of all the plein air sub­jects, an­i­mals sharpen my senses the most. When they in­evitably move out of po­si­tion, I can no longer rely solely on ob­ser­va­tion and must shift over to knowl­edge and mem­ory.

Warm-up sketches, wa­ter­color, foun­tain pen, and col­ored pen­cil, 5x8 in. A good way to get to know a dog’s habits is to do a half dozen sketches in var­i­ous poses.

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