TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, James Gurney

TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, art instruction video by James Gurney

TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, art instruction video by James Gurney

In his latest instructional video, TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors, painter James Gurney explores three color palettes and gives a good introduction to the basic concepts of painting with limited palettes.

Though not specifically about triadic color schemes in the classic sense (in which the colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel), his exploration of palettes with three colors points out one of the strengths of this approach: a palette of three colors can mix a broad range of additional colors, and yet remain manageable when you’re trying to wrap your head around how to mix them. (Like many painters, Gurney chooses to regard white as not a color, and I think wisely so.)

TRIADS is a follow up to Gurney’s previous video, Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements (link is to my review), and serves as second in a planned series. Here, he is painting with gouache, transparent watercolor and casein, but the principles are applicable to other mediums.

Initially painting with a palette of three colors similar to the cyan, magenta and yellow colors used in printing inks to produce a wide range of colors, he starts with a demo painting of brightly colored still life subjects in sunlight. The initially chosen palette creates a broad gamut (range of colors), but like any limited palette, has areas of weakness.

Gurney supplements the demo painting with the creation of a “triad test”, a simple diamond shaped set of test patches of the colors in the palette, and mixtures of the colors as well as tints (the color plus white) and mixtures of the tints.

He then moves on to a different set of “primaries”, richer in the colors that are weak in the previous palette, creates another “triad test” and goes back into the same demo painting, pointing out how the two palettes differ in areas of strength.

He goes on with other demos and studio exercises to explore various three color combinations — some unusual, using secondaries in place of primaries — as well as the creation of grays and low chroma colors from high chroma palettes, making swatches of test colors as he goes. He goes through about ten demo paintings in the course of the video, some quite briefly, others in more depth.

As is often the case with Gurney’s videos, I find myself learning from aspects of the visuals that aren’t specifically part of the video’s primary subject. At one point in the creation of grays from triads of colors, he makes a couple of grays in transparent watercolor by layering three transparent layers of pure color, one over another, letting them mix optically rather than mixing on the palette. I found the resulting grayed tones particularly rich with subtle variations of color, and came away eager to experiment with that aspect of applying paint.

You’ll find other off-topic but valuable painting techniques in the creation of the demos, such as the way he uses large brushes in areas where a less experienced painter might be reaching for smaller ones, the creation of texture with split hair dry brush, using a mahl stick to steady the brush for drawing the lines like those of siding on a house, and his process of using interesting color variations as colored grounds before blocking in.

TRIADS: Painting with Three Colors takes the seemingly simple concept of painting with three color palettes and through it opens a window into a range of concepts of value to students of painting.

The 90 minute video is available as a digital download through Gumroad or Sellfy for $17.98 and comes with a PDF study guide.

You can find previews of the video, along with supplementary information, on Gurney’s blog, Gurney Journey.

In addition, Gurney is promoting a just-for-fun Sunny Still Life “challenge” for those interested to paint a sunny still life with a triad palette and post their paintings online. The challenge deadline is October 20, 2020.

 
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Eudes Correia

Eudes Correia watercolors

Eudes Correia watercolors

Originally from Brazil, Eudes Correia is a watercolorist based in Lisbon.

Correia’s focus is on people, usually outside, walking sitting, riding bikes and other everyday activities. His website galleries are divided into sections for “People” and “Tourists”.

His approach is a wonderful balance of solid draftsmanship and loose, free application of color. His backgrounds are often large brushstrokes or free splashes of color. In lesser hands this can sometimes look contrived, but Correia makes it appear perfectly natural and the effect adds to the casual feeling of the image.

Correia travels extensively, conducting workshops in numerous locations around the world. He is Brand ambassador of Winsor & Newton in Europe.

He has a YouTube channel that features a number of videos that show him working.

 
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Marla Greenfield

Marla Greenfield

Marla Greenfield

Though she also paints landscapes, interiors and architectural subjects, Massachusetts based watercolor painter Marla Greenfield has a particular focus on still life and florals.

Her still life subjects are often presented in compositions that bring them close and have a dynamic that sets parts of objects on the painting’s edge, partially out of view. If not done carefully, this could lead a viewer’s attention out of the image, but Greenfield handles it with apparent ease, unerringly bringing your eye back into the composition.

All of her subjects are presented with crisp clarity, bright but naturalistic color and strong value relationships.

In addition to the gallery of images on her website, you can also find a portfolio of her work on Artwork Archive, where they are presented with information on availability and price.

http://marlagreenfield.com

Artwork Archive

 
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James Ransome

illustration by James Ransome

illustrations by James Ransome

James E. Ransome is an award winning American illustrator of children’s books, with over 60 books — as well as murals, posters editorial illustration and gallery paintings — to his name. He has been awarded the Coretta Scott King and NAACP Image awards, and was named one of 75 authors and illustrators everyone should know by the Children’s Book Council.

Ransome studied illustration at Pratt Institute, and credits prior study of film making and photography with helping to shape his approach. His style is naturalistic, with a nicely fluid feeling to many of his figures. While at Pratt, he encountered well known illustrator Jerry Pinkney, who he now counts as a friend and mentor.

Ransome’s website has galleries of his illustration as well as other paintings and drawings. There are two process videos that show him working with watercolor and with a preliminary drawing. In addition, Ransome is featured in a series of Videos from KidLit TV titled Young at Art, in which he gives demonstrates fundamental art techniques for kids.

Ransome has prints of some of his pieces available on Etsy.

Ransome is married to author Lesa-Cline-Ransome, and has illustrated a number of her biographical children’s titles.

 
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Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney is a renowned American children’s book illustrator and writer — winner of numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honors and Corretta Scott King Awards, as well as awards from The New York Times, the Society of Illustrators and others. His illustration credits include over 100 books as well as editorial and institutional illustration.

Pinkney works primarily in watercolor and drawing media. His illustrations often have an appealing feeling of casual looseness that can conceal the solid composition and careful draftsmanship on which they’re based. I particularly enjoy his wonderful use of texture

The Jerry Pinkney Studio website is informative, and has some slideshows of his work in categories like Children’s Books, Illustrated Novels and so on, but it doesn’t make the best showcase for his work.

The best examples I’ve found are on the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Digital Tour of a Jerry Pinkney exhibit: Imaginings. There is an accompanying video of Pinkney speaking, along with other videos, in the “Media” section of the Pinkney Studio site (I can’t give you a direct link because the site is in frames, for reasons that elude me).

There is also a page devoted to Pinkney in the Artists’s listings of the NRM website, that includes some images.

You can find many of his books on Bookshop.org or Amazon.com (affiliate link).

 
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James Gurney’s Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements

James Gurney's Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements

Screen captures from James Gurney's Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements

Anyone who has read my previous reviews of books and videos by James Gurney will not be surprised that I have high praise for his latest instructional video.

Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements is — quite obviously by its title — part of a multi-part tutorial. Whether it is to consist of two parts or more, I don’t know.

Gurney covers a fair bit of information in this video, starting from the ground up and breaking the complexities of painting in color into more easily digestible stages that logically build on one another.

Many artists’ instructional videos on color want to start out running and dazzle the student (i.e. prospective buyer) with promises of color mastery, but undeservedly breeze past these important stages, the most fundamental of which, of course, is black and white, or value.

Gurney starts there, with easily grasped exercises like comparing transparent and opaque methods of making value steps in the form of simple charts. He shows the effectiveness of these basic techniques in a painting of a storefront entirely in grays.

He then steps up to a simple grid of black and white on a light brown toned ground, and proceeds to paint a fully realized painting using the same method with only a few touches of a bright red.

Another painting works in black and white with a few touches of brown and blue, but over a brighter underpainting.

The video moves into transparent and opaque combinations, explores the fundamentals of complementary colors and finishes with a painting in a dramatically unusual combination of bright yellow green and complementary violet. There are additional, more briefly featured paintings and subjects along the way.

Gurney has an uncanny knack for what I think of as “teaching within teaching”. In the process of covering basics, he touches on more complex concepts like like chroma, alternative color wheels, color temperature and color gamuts — not in depth, but in a context that allows a basic understanding and prepares the student for more a extensive explanation later. He lets you absorb these secondary concepts almost unconsciously as you follow his main thread.

There is a discussion of materials, and in the process of showing Gurney painting, the video also captures his brushwork, the choice of brush size and shape, dry brush effects and more.

Gurney is working here primarily in watercolor and gouache, but the principles would carry over into other mediums as well.

Throughout, he encourages you to participate, talks about how to practice and delves into the concept of failure as an important part of the learning process. Gurney’s instructional videos are approaching the structure of a virtual class, a learn at your own speed session with a highly experienced teacher.

The video is accompanied by a PDF “Learning Supplement” that covers materials, outlines exercises and includes a lot of resource links. There is also, as always, more material relevant to the video on Gurney’s blog, Gurney Journey.

There is a trailer for the video on Gurney Journey, was well as on YouTube.

Color in Practice, Part 1, Black, White, and Complements is $17.99 for a digital download on Gumroad that includes the Learning Supplement PDF.

Gurney has also started a Facebook group, Color in Practice, for students to discuss the video and related topics among themselves.

If you are interested in pursuing some of these concepts — and much more — in greater depth, a terrific resource to accompany this, and any subsequent videos on the subject, is Gurney’s superb book, Color and Light: A Guide for Realist Painters (see my review here).

 
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