R Gregory Summers

R Gregory Summers

R Gregory Summers

R. Gregory Summers is a plein air painter working in the Kansas City area. He takes on plain air subjects both natural and man made with sharp, abbreviated notation and rich painterly brushwork.

His subjects range from the close and familiar to places from his travels in other parts of the world, like Australia and Peru.

His website has sections for current work as well as archives from previous years.

Summers teaches workshops in various parts of the U. S.

Eye Candy for Today; Durer’s Tuft of Cowslips

Tuft of Cowslips, Albrecht Durer, gouache on vellum

Tuft of Cowslips, Albrecht Durer, gouache on vellum (details)

Tuft of Cowslips, Albrecht Durer

Gouache on vellum; roughly 8 x 7 inches (19 x 17 cm); in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC, which has zoomable and downloadable images. There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project.

Like his more well known but equally wonderful “Large Piece of Turf“, this is another example of German Renaissance painter Albrecht Durer’s keen observation of nature on an intimate scale.

Paintings like this are a reminder of how extraordinary and wonder-full the commonplace can be, and how art, at its best, can reveal the world to us in that way.

It’s also a nice example of the effective use of gouache.

John Donohue’s “All the Restaurants in New York”

John Donohue's All the Restaurants in New York, pen and ink sketches

John Donohue's All the Restaurants in New York, pen and ink sketches

Since 2017, New York based artist and writer John Donohue has been pursuing his — admittedly unlikely — quest to draw all of the restaurants in New York City (estimated to number around 24,000, not counting ongoing closings and openings).

He takes this on by sketching on location in pen and ink, without preliminary pencil drawings. He then adds touches of a single color to the drawings. His drawing style is casual and sketch-like, with an almost cartoony feeling at times — unsurprising as Donohue has contributed cartoons to The New Yorker.

There are plans in the works for three books of drawings of restaurants in New York, London and Paris. In the meanwhile, Donohue has prints available.

Eye Candy for Today: Rosa Bonheur’s The Horse Fair

The Horse Fair, Rosa Bonheur, oil on canvas, roughly 96 x 200 inches (245 x 507 cm), Study for “The Horse Fair”, chalk and wash with gouache highlights on paper, roughly 5 x 13 inches (14 x 34 cm); both in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rosa Bonueur was the best known painter of animals in 19th century Europe, and The Horse Fair was her most acclaimed work. The painting is large, almost 8 feet by 15 feet, and filled with drama, both in terms of the motion-filled subject and in the bold value contrasts of the composition.

Bonheur did studies and alternate versions of the painting (one of which is in the National Gallery, London), which she called her “Parthenon frieze”, alluding to the multi-figured relief created to adorn that Greek temple, which featured numerous depictions of horses.

For more, see my previous post on Rosa Bonheur.

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.