Watercolor: Good Day for Kites (& watching James Gurney paint a tortoise)

Good Day for Kites 5×8 Watercolor on paper (sold)

The reference for this painting was a cell phone snap shot on a windy day in San Diego, California, during a splendid weekend on Coronado Island. The great blue bridge that connects the coast to the island is visible along the midline, dotted by park-revelers and kites in the forground. I love the way the scene takes me back to that weekend every time I look at it. Painting is such a visual diary of chapters in time. I remember the details of my life and the people in it with each piece of art in my archives. Does your art document time and people and places for you too?

And speaking of archives and places, here’s an inspiring mixed media painting demo by James Gurney. Watch as he draws a taxidermy Galápagos tortoise at the Royal Ontario Museum, using watercolor and water-soluble colored pencils. This is just a 5 minute snippet of a full demo available via DVD on his web site. 

(If you don’t see the video window below, you can watch it here.)


Art Quote
My biggest joy as an artist is when the painting surface seems to disappear and I feel I’m living inside the scene I’m painting. There’s a Latin quote that I have carved onto my mahlstick. It says: “Ars est celare artem,” which means “true art is the concealment of artifice.” In other words, it’s easy to make a painting look like paint, but it’s much harder to make a painting that involves a viewer so completely that he feels the heat of sun on his neck and the sand in his shoes.

I wish this effect happened more often in my own work. It never happens without a lot of sweat and struggle. I don’t take all the necessary steps often enough, because I’ve got a lazy streak like everybody. But when I do, I’m glad, and it’s well worth the trouble.
~James Gurney

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