By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, QC
James Gurney, plein air painter, art educator, illustrator, and Rube-Goldberg-Easel-Maker has recently released another of his instructional DVDs on field sketching. Gouache in the Wild is a 72 minute art instructional video, available by digital download, or on DVD.
This video is a natural follow-up to his earlier release Watercolor in the Wild. The two make a good companion set. Considering his preferred method of using opaque water-based gouache over a loose and colorful under painting, one can see how everything learned from the previous watercolor program could be used in tandem with what we learn here today.
Gouache in the Wild presents multiple small paintings (six in total) which you watch in jump cuts taking you in compressed time from the initial drawings through key points in the process, onto the finished work. Each small sketch is painted entirely on location, taking us to a variety of subjects – landscape, urban settings, and some unique still-life situations.
We get to see plenty of footage of his careful brushwork in real time – seeing how he advances the image methodically. Like other great painters I have seen, Gurney ‘goes slow to go fast’. He is never rushed, every stroke well considered and placed with skill. Every color mixed once, and placed down without fussing. As he never seems to make a mistake, no time is wasted guessing a color or fixing a brush stroke. It’s really quite remarkable to see. This is a thinking person’s painting!
There is enough time spent showing close-ups of the palette to see his mixing. As well, we get lots of shots of his portable easel and various ‘tricks of the plein air trade’. Always helpful to see an artist’s setup. Plus we get frequent breaks to find out more about art materials. Intercut with the painting progress, Gurney lectures about the history and properties of gouache, the best brushes and paint brands, and the colors he chooses.
The take away here is Gurney’s passion for the potential of this under-utilized medium. He is here to demonstrate how gouache can offer you all the advantages of opaque painting in oils or acrylics, but in a fast drying, clean and portable, water-soluble media that is highly suited to working on location, sketch-booking and the small studies which many painters enjoy on location.
As a 'mostly purist' watercolorist I have often wished for the ability to return a lost highlight, or insert some skyholes into foliage. Even if you don't intend to adopt gouache as a full time medium, there's a lot of good examples here leading towards a mixed media approach.
Gouache in the Wild is independently produced by James and his wife Jeanette. Purchases go directly to supporting his art practice, his blogging, and future releases of more videos.
Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don't necessarily represent an official view of UrbanSketchers.org. Would you like to contribute a product review? Email your submission to email@example.com.