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).