Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Victoria's Andy

The exhibition "Andrew Wyeth at 100: A Family Remembrance" at the Fenimore Art Museum in New York blows away the misconception that Andrew Wyeth was a melancholy, dour loner. 

"Fuzzy Wooly Andy," ca. 2000 Photo by Victoria Browning Wyeth
The impression that comes across from his granddaughter Victoria's viewpoint is of the "Andy" she knew, who giggled, tickled, hugged, and laughed. 

MASTER BEDROOM, 1965 watercolor. Collection of Victoria Browning Wyeth
© 2017 Andrew Wyeth / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Victoria curated the show, writing the captions, and included many works from her own collection. 

It's a small show, but there are watercolors, egg temperas, early self portraits, quick portraits of family members, photographs (many by Vic herself), illustrated letters, items of clothing, and even paintbrushes (He used, among others, Laurut brand kolinsky round mops with quill ferrules).

Outpost, 1968 tempera. Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection
© 2017 Andrew Wyeth / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

The show is full of insights into Wyeth's thinking and working methods. According to Victoria, Andy NEVER used photographs for his paintings. Here's a grab bag of quotes:

"It is not a portrait unless the person is looking at you." (A. Wyeth)

"He always talked about the sounds in his paintings."

"He was wonderful because he would talk with you — converse with you when you posed. He would always talk about something he knew you were interested in— any kind of subject."

"He always mixed his own black. 'You need to build the excitement of the black, with blues, greens reds, etc.'"

"Art has no rules." (A. Wyeth)

The Revenant, 1949 tempera. New Britain Museum,
Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, © 2017 Andrew Wyeth
Art Rights Society (ARS), NY
I love the curating because it cuts through all the bull you usually read in museum captions. It is personal, informal, and genuine, and offers a new way to look at this somewhat elusive artist. As Victoria said, "I feel it's time the world saw the Andy in Andrew Wyeth."
Andrew Wyeth at 100: A Family Remembrance is on view at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York through September 4.
Book: Andrew Wyeth | Victoria Wyeth: My Andy (Andrew Wyeth)
The larger Andrew Wyeth exhibition is at the Brandywine Museum in Pennsylvania: Andrew Wyeth in Retrospect, through September 17, with a book: Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Video Sample: Painting Peonies in a Garden

For those of you who are still deciding whether to purchase the new video, Flower Painting in the Wild, here's an extended sample to give you the flavor of it. (Link to video)

For the rest of you who already took the plunge, thank you! If any questions came up as you watched it, please ask in the comments, and I'll answer them in a future post.

"Whether you are just starting out or have mastered your own technique, to behold a fresh alla prima painting in plein air is a treat for any artist."
—Michael Klein, East Oaks Studio

Monday, August 21, 2017

Selective Underpainting

I love the silhouette shapes of these calla lilies. The trumpet-like white flowers stand out from their surroundings.

I use a variation of the underpainting strategy. I decide to do an overall wash of yellow selectively under the leaves only, not under the flowers. That groups the foliage together as a mass, allowing the flowers to stand out.
Calla lilies, watercolor and gouache, 4 x 7 inches
I allow the area inside the flowers to stay bright white until late in the process, and then I place pale washes of transparent watercolor over them.

(Link to video)
So in summary: 1) Careful drawing. 2) Background leaves painted over yellow watercolor underpainting. 3) Transparent watercolor on white lilies.

This demo is not part of the new video, Flower Painting in the WildI just didn't get much coverage on this one.

“Of all of Gurney’s terrific series of “In the Wild” videos, Flower Painting in the Wild is the best.” —Matthew Innis, Underpaintings

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Farmers' Museum

Brooks Barn, Farmers' Museum, gouache, 5 x 5 inches
The Farmers' Museum of Cooperstown, New York demonstrates the daily business of a 19th century farm.

You can watch — and sketch — as re-enactors milk cows, make cheese, harvest garlic, weave cloth, and print pamphlets. (Link to video on Facebook)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ruskin and Wild Roses

John Ruskin gave challenging advice to young artists.

Wild roses, gouache over casein, 5 x 8 inches
He said: "They should go to Nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thought but how best to penetrate her meaning; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing." 

I take that advice to mean willfully discarding the idea of improving on nature, and translating what I see into paint as faithfully as possible.

I soon discover that painting every detail is impossible. As Ruskin points out, individual leaves can rarely be seen apart from the others, given all the overlapping and cast shadows. Plus, there are tens of thousands of tiny forms, and those forms morph from moment to moment, and from day to day. (I spend four consecutive mornings on the painting).

Instead, the character of the masses of leaves has to be reinvented in terms of paint.

The making of this painting is the main segment of my new video, "Flower Painting in the Wild."

“I think this is the best 'in the wild' video yet. Great demonstration of lost and found edges, painting negative space, keeping your place through a complex scene, dealing with plein-air distractions, excellent close-up views of superb brush work, emphasis when depicting reflections, glazing with gouache (and casein) and even how to make friends with green. Great Stuff!!” —Biff (Customer)

Flower Painting in the Wild
1080p HD download from Sellfy
1080p HD download from Gumroad
1080p HD download from Cubebrush
DVD available direct from the manufacturer
DVD from Amazon
Trailer on YouTube

The Ruskin quote is from Modern Painters, Vol. 1

Related Previous Posts:
Chernyshevsky's Philosophy of Art
W.T. Richards "Into the Woods"
Leighton's Lemon Tree
Month Long Field Study
W.T. Richards Field Study

Friday, August 18, 2017

Release of "Flower Painting in the Wild"

"Flower Painting in the Wild" is now available, and today only it's 10% off Buy now
(scroll down for more links). Here's what the reviewers are saying:

“Who doesn't love to sit in a garden? Translucent and highly chromatic, flowers are the most challenging subjects to render in the studio. Put them in a mass outdoors in flickering light, moving in a gentle breeze...even the most accomplished plein air painter will head for the hills instead. James Gurney takes you with him to observe and paint on a larger panel as well as his iconic sketchbook pages. Practical, erudite and charming, James shows you how he integrates that devilish chartreuse leaf green into his impressionistic paintings of flowers on site. Watch him create a formally satisfying composition while only selecting details that are botanically relevant. He also puts it all in philosophical context, quoting Ruskin no less, that urges you to go outside to smell, see and paint the roses!”
Elissa Gore, Landscape Painting Instructor, New York Botanical Garden

"Set at the New York Botanical Gardens, you get to see how an artist tackles the complexity of nature. With shifting light, wind blowing and pedestrians passing by Gurney does an elegant painting. Taking the time to see the structure of the flower, Gurney develops the painting to a high level of finish. The combination of his ability to understand solid depictions of light and form as well as structure and brush handling, make this video a joy to watch for every level of artist. Whether you are just starting out or have mastered your own technique, to behold a fresh alla prima painting in plein air is a treat for any artist. Gurney filmed the video himself which gives it a raw, personal touch. I highly recommend it and look forward to viewing others in the future.”
Michael Klein, East Oaks Studio

"With this DVD James Gurney provides the viewer an excellent opportunity to learn about flower painting in a natural setting while paying keen attention to different shapes and light, general value and color in nature, and how to bring them all together in a finished painting. He demonstrates not only the painting techniques but gives also information about the surrounding environment and how to engage with the public while painting. Gurney is a master at explaining how to handle clustered masses of plant parts, without absolute delineation of detail so that one’s mind is inspired to build the final picture."
Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski, Ph.D., D.Sc., Manager of School of Botanical Art & Illustration, Denver Botanic Gardens

"Flower Painting in the Wild" is another excellent video from James Gurney, particularly if you're interested in casein paint. Using casein in most segments, he paints several varieties of flowers, demonstrating its opacity and versatility. As in his previous video demonstrations, solid technique, sharp and useful video images, and Gurney's obvious humility and good-humor make this a must for the student of painting. Highly recommended.”
Gary Hoff

“The video is a great way to learn painting flowers outdoors in any medium.”
—Eleinne Basa

Flower Painting in the Wild
1080p HD download from Sellfy
1080p HD download from Gumroad
1080p HD download from Cubebrush
DVD available direct from the manufacturer
DVD from Amazon
Trailer on YouTube