James Gurney’s Living Sketchbook, Volume 3 – Court Report

James Gurney's Living Sketchbook, Volume 3 - Court Report

James Gurney's Living Sketchbook, Volume 3 - Court Report

When I first met author and artist James Gurney some years ago, I had the opportunity to leaf through one of his sketchbooks. Gurney is so accomplished that his sketchbooks often consist of page after page of beautifully realized paintings and sketches, usually in gouache or casein. My immediate thought was that he should publish them in some form, if only because I would personally like the opportunity to look through them at leisure.

I didn’t say anything at the time, but some years later, in 2017, Gurney began to do just that, publishing a few selected sketchbooks — not as a printed book or PDF file, as I might have envisioned — but as a concept he calls a “Living Sketchbook”. These are smartphone/tablet apps, developed in coordination with his son, Dan Gurney.

The Living Sketchbook apps not only allow you to flip through the sketchbook pages, but also to zoom in on the images, click to read comments, hear audio commentary, and in many cases, see short videos of Gurney working on the sketch and discussing his methods and materials. It’s about as close as you can get to sitting down with the artist and leafing through his sketchbooks while he discusses the sketches and shows you some of his techniques.

Gurney gives his actual sketchbooks names, usually based on sketches of a particular subject among those in the sketchbook, and the digital versions follow that model. I reviewed the first of the series, “Boyhood Home” when I received a Beta review copy just before it launched. After the beta expired, I bought my own copy, as well as a copy of the second in the series, “Metro North”.

I was pleased to recently receive a review copy of the third app in the series, “Court Report”, named for a few paintings of basketball players, games and announcers and that Gurney did at the invitation of the NBA. The bulk of the sketchbook, like the other two, ranges through a variety of Gurney’s subjects and approaches to sketching and painting. In this case there are a number of winter landscape scenes, as well as studies of people, houses, diners, animals, cars and other subjects.

One of the things I particularly enjoy about Gurney’s Living Sketchbook apps — in addition to the beautiful reproduction of the art and the depth of the accompanying information — is their portability. It’s like having a little packet of painting inspiration that I can enjoy anytime and anywhere, from waiting for an appointment to taking a break while plein air painting.

“Court Report” and the other two volumes in the series are available in the App Stores for both iOS an Android for $4.99 each.

You can find more information, images and video flip-throughs on Gurney’s blog.

 
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José Naranja

Jose Naranja, illustrated notebooks and journals

Jose Naranja, illustrated notebooks and journals

Among followers of “urban sketching”, there is an often associated practice known as “journaling”, or the keeping of a visual diary of one’s travels, day to day activities or random thoughts and ideas.

The idea of visual journals or diaries is nothing new, of course, but the current popularity of the practice, and the ability to place one’s journals online and compare notes with others, makes it an interesting contemporary phenomenon.

José Naranja is a Spanish artist, writer, traveller and observer who takes this activity to greater lengths than most. Naranja refers to himself as a “notebook maker and more”.

After years of making journals in commercial sketchbooks and notebooks, he has taken to crafting his own, using high quality paper and binding the in leather in much thicker dimensions than those commercially available.

These he fills with ink and watercolor sketches, hand written text, clippings, stamps and sometimes intricate design work — resulting in an amalgam that is part travel journal, part art and design experiments, part comparisons of drawing and writing materials, part collage, part scrapbook and part imaginative workspace.

You can find examples of his notebook pages and materials on his blog and Instagram page. He offers a facsimile edition of some of his selected pages as The Orange Manuscript, as well as prints.

You can also find quick overviews of some of his pages in articles on My Modern Met and Colossal. There is an interview with Naranja on Notebook Stories.

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Eye Candy for Today: Van Gogh pen & watercolor sketches

Van Gogh watercolors
Gate at the Paris Ramparts, Entrance to the Moulin de la Galette, Vincent van Gogh

Pencil, pen & ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, roughly 9 x 12″ (24 x 32 cm) and 12 x 9″ (31 x 24 cm), respectively.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts on “Not the usual Van Goghs“, in a dedicated art career that barely spanned ten years, Vincent van Gogh was prolific, leaving over 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings. Yet art book publishers and museum curators often feel obliged to show you the same few “greatest hits” over and over.

Not only are his wonderful drawings often passed over, Van Gogh also sketched in pen and watercolor. The two examples above are in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

They have a freshness, immediacy and feeling of location that would be the envy of many contemporary “urban sketchers”.

I think they also show the influence of the Impressionists he encountered in Paris, as well as the Japanese prints that were popular among French artists of the time, and which Van Gogh collected and sometimes emulated.

 
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Inktober

Inktober 2017, Jake Parker, Moemai, Max Dunbar, Meredith Dillman, Abbe Branberg, Camille Marie, Chordephra, Loish, Alyssa Tallent, Jason Chan, Mack Chater, Sweeny Boo, Yuko Shimizu, Paul Heaston, Nick Nikopoulos, Stoaty Weasel, Ian McQue, Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde
Inktober started as a challenge illustrator and cartoonist Jake Parker set himself in October of 2009, to draw 31 ink drawings in 31 days.

The goal, as in any exercise of this sort, was to get better end develop a more consistent working practice.

He repeated the idea the next year, promoting the notion that others should join him, and since then it has grown into a worldwide endeavor.

If you search on Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms for #inktober, or #inktober2017, you’ll find the stream of those currently participating.

There is a lot of variation in style and level of ability, from novice to professional, and that’s part of what makes it such a great practice. There is no barrier to entry.

It’s not a contest, there are no real requirements or central authority deciding who can participate.

The rules, such as there are, are simple: do an ink drawing and post it online with the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2017 — repeat every day in October.

Even though this is the fifth day, it’s not too late to join in, I see lots of posts that say “late to the party” or “just joining in”. If you want to, you can throw in a few extra drawings along the way to come up with 31 by the end of the month.

You don’t have to use a dip pen or anything fancy; anything that makes marks in ink counts: ballpoint pens, markers, brush pens, whatever. The drawings don’t have to be elaborate or finished, and you can add color or not as you choose.

If you need suggestions for subject matter, there is an official prompt of 31 subjects on the Inktober website.

You don’t have to follow it, though. Lots of people make their own prompt list, or choose to do a single subject (e.g. cats, cars, portraits or monsters….), or just do whatever comes to you.

You can look through the social media feeds to see what others are doing, or simply for the enjoyment of it.

You will encounter a lot of work by beginners, and this is a Good Thing; part of the value of the practice is encouraging folks to get started. If you’re looking through with the thought of finding professional work, you might do better to seek the more curated experience of following Jake Parker’s Twitter feed, or the @inktober feed.

The images above are just some examples (mostly by professionals) that caught my eye. I particularly enjoy those images in which the artist has included their drawing tools in the photo with the drawing.

(Images above [some of these names are just Twitter handles]: Jake Parker, Moemai, Max Dunbar, Meredith Dillman, Abbe Branberg, Camille Marie, Chordephra, Loish, Alyssa Tallent, Jason Chan, Mack Chater, Sweeny Boo, Yuko Shimizu, Paul Heaston, Nick Nikopoulos, Stoaty Weasel, Ian McQue, Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde)

 
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Phil Dean

Phil Dean, urban sketching
Phil Dean is a British urban sketcher, who also goes by the handle “Shoreditch Sketcher” after the neighborhood in East London where he lives.

Dean avidly sketches the landmarks, streets and byways of London, both historic and modern, as well as documenting his travels to other cities. His style is a nice balance of loose rendering over solid draftsmanship and perspective.

He often takes an approach that is somewhat unusual for location sketching, using pen with both dark wash and white highlights on toned paper. This is a a technique more common to figure drawing, but it works wonderfully well in Dean’s drawings.

I couldn’t find much information on his materials, but in photos he appears to be using primarily markers, and I also came across reference to a fountain pen.

Dean’s primary website functions as a blog and also has originals for sale; he also has a secondary website that is arranged more like a gallery.

 
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