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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Ada Florek

Ada Florek watercolor painting

Ada Florek watercolor painting

Originally from Poland, Ada Florek is a watercolor painter based in Thoiry, France.

Though she also paints other subjects, she focuses primarily on architectural and still life subjects.

I enjoy her textural approach and use of crisp edges.

 
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Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water

Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water

Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water

Thomas Paquette is a painter from Western Pennsylvania, whose work I have featured several times before and who I continue to follow, as I am delighted and fascinated by his approach.

Paquette breaks up his compositions in areas of color that are often edged with contrasting or complementary colors. The color areas and edges are in rough patterns that have a fractal appearance, but blend to make a naturalistic whole from a distance.

The result is part naturalistic, part graphic and part textural, with energetic paint marks providing surface qualities that move the eye, even within images that are essentially tranquil.

Many of his oils are fairly large in scale, in contrast to his wonderful gouache paintings that are essentially miniatures, often in the range of three or four inches on a side.

You can find examples of both oil and gouache paintings on his website, as well as printed collections of his work. (I found the book of Gouaches to be particularly a treat, as most are reproduced at their actual size.)

Thomas Paquette’s work will be on display here in Philadelphia in a solo show at the Gross McCleaf Gallery: “Thomas Paquette: Defined by Water“, that runs from September 6th to 28th, 2019. The reception is Friday, September 6th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

 
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J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

J.M.W. Turner Sketchbooks

J.M.W. Turner Sketchbooks

English painter and printmaker J.M.W. Turner, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was astonishingly prolific. On his death, he left over 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolors and more than 30,000 works on paper.

Many of the latter are pages from his sketchbooks, and many of those are in the collection of the Tate Britain as part of the extraordinary Turner Bequest, which brought the museum’s holding of Turner’s works to over 37,000.

The Tate has put a number of these online, in a special section of their website: J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings, Watercolours.

The resource is divided into 5 chronologically arranged sections from different points in the artist’s career, and within that, the works are arranged in subsections by location or other theme. Exploring is a matter of drilling down through the categories to subcategories.

Eventually, you will come to pages in which an individual sketchbook or thematic group of works is available in a slideshow. In the initial window of that slideshow there are usually two tabs, allowing you to choose between “Entry” (the slideshow) and “At a glance” or “Artworks”. Choosing the latter will open up thumbnails of the images arrayed directly on the page, making them much easier to browse.

For example, in the section “1819-29 Italy and After“, there is a subsection for “Rivers of England c. 1822-4” and a subsequent subsection for “‘Rivers of England’ Watercolours“.

From there you can click on a thumbnail to go to the detail page for an artwork, and there click on the image for an enlarged view. Most of the images are available in a nicely large size.

A number of the sections contain sketchbook pages that are so light or barely notated that they may be of less interest, but if you patiently dig around, you will be rewarded with many extraordinarily accomplished works in watercolor and gouache.

The sections for “Loose Studies of Paris and the Seine” and “Meuse-Moselle Gouache and Watercolour” (among others) are particularly of interest to those who are interested in Turner’s masterful handling of gouache as a sketching medium.

This project is so extensive, so wonderful and so engrossing, that I will issue a Time Sink Warning.

 
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