Tips & Insights from James Gurney Trip to Maine
James Gurney heads north with his gouache sketchbook
Maine coast sings a siren song to the on-the-spot painter. Artists have loved this region for centuries, such as Frederic Church, Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth. I arrive in mid-september, a relatively quiet time after the summer flocks of tourists have flown, but before the arrival of the leaf-peepers. I bring watercolor and gouache with a tripod-mounted sketch easel, expecting that I might be painting in town or even indoors, and might need a compact setup. Carpenter’s Boat Shop, watercolor, 5 x 8" (13 x 20 cm) This old wooden skiff started out on Cranberry Island. Now it’s marooned in front of the the Carpenter’s Boat Shop, a workshop where apprentices work with master boat builders to learn time-honored skills. I use transparent watercolor, which requires me to paint around the thin white shapes catching sunlight on the gunwales. To make sure
I get those right, I spend some time doing a careful pencil drawing first. When it comes to painting, I ignore the green and yellow colors in the actual scene and limit the colors to dull browns and blues. That allows me to emphasize the contrast between the warmth of the downfacing planes and the coolness of the planes facing upward.