Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion

Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion,
Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion,

I received review copy of Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion, a new instructional video from painter, illustrator, writer and teacher James Gurney.

The concepts behind making gradations of color in visual art can seem as though they should be simple, until you find yourself trying to paint something like different bands of color on a coffee mug as they round the form into shadow, and you suddenly realize you’re in uncharted territory.

In Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion, Gurney takes on the concepts behind achieving gradual transitions in color.

Gradient, is a term that has come into popular use from its prevalence in digital art; it is used here used as a collective term for gradations, gradated washes, and other gradual tone or color changes.

Gurney uses methodical studio demonstrations to set out the concepts and techniques of working with these kind of color transitions, and then shows real world application of them in sequences of on location painting, adding a dimension of understanding that would be difficult to convey in studio demos alone.

Interestingly, Gurney leaves in what otherwise might be outtakes, demonstrating some of the real world problems painters encounter, such as sudden drenching rain, or coming up against the limitations of an experimental technique, like painting in gouache over water soluble printing ink.

He has also interspersed recorded questions from viewers of his other videos or readers of his blog, in which they ask about concepts that relate to the demo or painting that Gurney is working with.

One of the key points he makes is the degree to which our perception of a color is influenced by the surrounding colors. He brings this home in the last segment, in which he demonstrates how to paint one of those optical illusions that show two squares in a checkerboard pattern on a cylinder that look completely different in context, but, when isolated are shown to be the same color and value. It’s one thing to see one of these optical demonstrations, it’s another level of insight to paint one yourself.

In Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion, Gurney has once again demonstrated his ability to take complex or confusing concepts, reduce them to their essential components and lay out a path to understanding with clarity and ease.

Gradients: Color, Form and Illusion is available for download or streaming through Gumroad, and is also available as a DVD. Both are 10% off Saturday and Sunday, September 11th and 12th, 2021.

 
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Cathy Hillegas

Cathy Hillegas watercolors
Cathy Hillegas watercolors

Cathy Hillegas is a painter in watercolor based in Indiana, who combines vibrant color with a tactile sense of texture in her paintings of flowers, trees, woods and fields.

Particularly appealing to me are her paintings of small natural elements, leaves, branches, the heads of ferns and other aspects of nature, seen up close.

In addition to the works on her website, you can find prints available in her Etsy store.

 
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Sketches in Line and Wash by Jeanette L. Gurney

Sketches in Line and Wash by Jeanette L. Gurney
Sketches in Line and Wash by Jeanette L. Gurney

If, like me, you’ve watched many of James Gurney’s excellent short videos on YouTube, you have undoubtedly seen Jeanette Gurney, James Gurney’s wife, playing a supporting role, often accompanying him on sketching trips and sketching in the background while he sketches or paints.

Occasionally, we would get a look at her line and watercolor drawings, which I have always enjoyed, but usually only glimpses.
With the release of a recent video on YouTube titled Sketches in Line and Wash by Jeanette Gurney, we finally get a more extended look at Jeanette Gurney’s line and watercolor drawings.

Line and watercolor has been gaining in popularity in recent years as a favored medium among urban sketchers; Jeanette Gurney has been working this way for some time. It is a fascinating combination of mediums, with many of the eye pleasing characteristics of both drawing and painting. These characteristics are evident in the variety of approaches to line and wash featured in this video.

The video itself appears to be a recording of a livestream conducted with a New Jersey high school. In the first third or so both Jeanette and James field questions from the students and Jeanette discusses her materials and basic techniques. There is a list of materials links when you open the “Show More” link on the YouTube page.

About 12 minutes in, we see more of her line and wash sketches, in which her line application varies from pencil to marker to pen and even ballpoint. Her favored subject is architecture, and her sketches are of a fascinating variety of buildings.

She has a light touch with her lines — contrasted with occasionally bold marker lines — and an often free application of watercolor, giving her drawngs the feeling of a loose, casual sketch, though it’s obvious that there is a solid foundation of draftsmanship underneath.

This is one of those delightful videos that makes you want to grab your sketchbook and head out the door.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Homer’s A Basket of Clams

A Basket of Clams, Winslow Homer, watercolor and gouache
A Basket of Clams, Winslow Homer, watercolor and gouache (details)

A Basket of Clams, Winslow Homer, watercolor and gouache, roughly 11 x 10 inches (29 x 25 cm). In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has both zoomable and downloadable versions of the image available.

The museum lists the materials of this early watercolor by Homer as simply “watercolor on wove paper”. Why there is no mention of the obvious use of gouache is surprising to me. Usually, museums will indicate the use of gouache with watercolors or drawings, even if it’s just “touches of gouache”.

Here, Homer has used opaque white quite liberally, not just in the obvious highlights on the ship, the ship’s rigging, the children’s clothing and the shark and stones on the beach; I think the pale blue of the vest on the figure at left looks like a scumble of light opaque color over a darker tone.

 
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Kris Parins

Kris Parins watercolor
Kris Parins watercolor

Kris Parins is a watercolor painter who is originally from Wisconsin, and now shares her time between a studio there and one in Florida.

Her bright, crisp watercolors reflect a love of the natural world as exemplified by both places as well as the play of light and shadow to be found in urban environments and still life objects.

Her approach varies, at times areas of color are abstracted to the point of giving the work a seirgraph-like appearance.

Her website portfolio is divided into ranges of subject matter. In addition, there is a section for prints, and a video in which she talks about her inspiration and process. The Articles section includes articles Parins has written for Watercolor Artist Magazine.

 
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Bernard Völlmy

Bernard Vollmy, watercolor
Bernard Vollmy, watercolor

Bernard Völlmy is a Swiss painter, now based in France, who works primarily in watercolor, but also in monochromatic and color watercolors combined with graphite.

His watercolor themes often include subjects with water — creeks and streams, small runs or even reflective puddles. These are approached with an eye to texture and interesting value contrasts.

Völlmy’s website is in French, but is relatively easily navigable by non-French speakers. The link I’ve posted takes you directly to his watercolor on paper gallery. You can find other galleries of images under the “Bernard Völlmy” menu tab. Among them is a section for his sketchbooks.

 
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