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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Eye Candy for Today: Francesco Novelli ink and wash drawing

Francesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing

Frencesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing (details)

Diana and Her Hounds, Francesco Novelli

Pen and black ink with brown wash; roughly 5 x 4″ (13 x 10 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.

I don’t know much about Francesco Novelli, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but I find this drawing interesting for several reasons.

First, it’s simply a beautifully realized drawing. The basic ink drawing, in black, is composed of broken lines, with spaces open at many points. The brown wash fills in the form and gives the figure dimension and solidity, but the overall effect is a drawing with a loose, open feeling.

Deft value relationships add to the composition and the sensation of grace and motion, particularly in the clothing and drapery. I love the way he has use the brush and brown wash like pen hatching along the curved surfaces of the figure’s arms and legs and the bodies of the dogs.

What I didn’t notice at first — likely because the drawing is so beautifully done — is that to my eye, the proportions of the arms, particularly the figure’s left arm, seem out of proportion to the figure. The arms also look more like they belong to a male figure.

It was not uncommon for artists to employ male models for female figures; it was easier and cheaper to use a male studio assistant as a model than to hire a female model. (I believe most of the female figures of the sibyls on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling were studied from male models.)

Though it might have been intended as a finished piece, the drawing has the look of a preparatory drawing for a painting or print, but I can’t find much information on Novelli, let alone a specific work that might be sourced from this.

 
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Edward Julius Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold, classic illustration, animal illustration

Edward Julius Detmold, classic illustration, animal illustration

Edward Julius Detmold and his twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold were book illustrators active in the “Golden Age” of illustration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Both were interested in natural history and animals, and even in their illustrations for books like Kipling’s The Jungle Book and The Fables of Aesop, their images were more likely to feature animals than people.

Both worked in watercolor and ink and were influenced by Japanese Prints, Art Nouveau and the Pre-Raphaelite painters as well as their contemporary illustrators.

I can’t find as much information about Charles, so I’ve focused here on Edward Detmold, and the images shown are (as far as I can determine) by Edward.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: John Carlin watercolor portrait miniature

Portrait of a Lady, John Carlin; watercolor on ivory

Portrait of a Lady, John Carlin; watercolor on ivory (detail)

Portrait of a Lady, John Carlin

Watercolor on ivory, roughly 4 x 3 inches (9 x 7 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It’s possible that this is a grayscale image of a more colorful painting — the Met’s website pages doesn’t comment — but my guess is that it was painted monochromatically.

The portrait is obviously of a real and not idealized person, and sensitively painted in that wonderful drybrush/stipple watercolor technique that was prevalent in the mid to late 19th century.

At that time, it was commonplace to paint small portraits in watercolor on ivory, often in an oval as part of a broach. In this case, the painting is rectangular, but not much larger than an oval might have been.

I find it interesting that the artist has balanced with composition with the edge of a chair and the suggestion of a room corner behind the sitter.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: William Holman Hunt watercolor still life

Still Life with Plums, William Holman Hunt, watercolor

Still Life with Plums, William Holman Hunt, watercolor (details)

Still Life with Plums, William Holman Hunt

Watercolor on paper, roughly 12 x 14 inches (30 x 37 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum. (Zoomable and downloadable versions of the image are available on the site.)

A beautiful and sensitively observed still life by the Pre-Raphaelite master. It appears to be done in a watercolor technique that combines the intricate application of drybrush and stipple.

It’s interesting to compare this to the similarly rendered watercolor still life paintings of William Henry Hunt. (As far as I know, the two Victorian painters just have similar names and are not related.)

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Andrew Wyeth drybrush & watercolor

Flat Boat, Andrew Wyeth, watercolor and drybrush

Flat Boat, Andrew Wyeth, watercolor and drybrush, details

Flat Boat, Andrew Wyeth

Watercolor and drybrush, roughly 22 x 29 inches (56 x 74 cm). Image and link is from a 2013 Christie’s auction sale.

While I don’t always respond as strongly to his more formal and conceptual works, I very much like Andrew Wyeth’s watercolors and drybrush watercolors, in which he is just directly observing from nature and interpreting what he sees in simple, often spare compositions.

This is a combination of both traditional fluid transparent watercolor, and drybrush, in which passages — particularly those involving texture — are built up with short multiple strokes applied with most of the paint wiped from the brush before application.

 
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