Saturday, June 20, 2020

Learning From Gurney

June 20, 2020

"There is no line between fine art and illustration; there is no high or low art; there is only art, and it comes in many forms." - James Gurney

Normally during the summer months my wife Susan and I would be traveling somewhere on the North American continent on our motorcycles. Not this year. I'm staying put for now and it has given me time to do more art, study more art and create more YouTube videos. 

My friend Steve Mitchell recently introduced me to the Artist James Gurney. Mr. Gurney is perhaps most notable for creating Dinotopia, which is a wonderful series of books, filled with fantastic illustrations. What I love about James Gurney's work is the imagination, composition and craftsmanship he puts into everything he creates. From elaborate landscapes to the most mundane objects, Gurney brings light and life to anything he touches. I am also fascinated and intrigued by the man, outside of his work. He went to college for archaeology and anthropology, before turning to art. He worked for National Geographic, wrote and illustrated his own books, took great adventures and has seemed to defy the odds by keeping his inner child alive.

At some point in 1980 he decided to leave art school and he and his friend Thomas Kinkaid hopped on a freight train to travel across the country and in his words, "All that summer we slept in graveyards and on rooftops and sketched portraits of gravestone cutters and lumberjacks. To make money we drew two-dollar portraits in bars by the light of cigarette machines.

You can listen to one of his original travel logs tapes here:

From that adventure, he and Kincaid wrote the book - The Artist Guide To Sketching. 

I thought one of the things I was learning from Mr. Gurney was how to paint Plein Air with Gouache, and while that is certainly true, I think what I'm really learning from him is to allow yourself be inspired. It seems a very simple thing to let yourself be inspired, but the human condition is such that we create many blockers for ourselves. It's very motivating to find someone in life that not only shares your passions, but has achieved a mastery you have not, and someone who also has the courage to make life an adventure and that's what James Gurney has done.

Link here to his website:
Link here to his YouTube channel:

The following drawings and paintings are from my recent work.

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