These two books, by Dinotopia author James Gurney, are a wonderful resource for the realist painter. Formerly an illustrator for National Geographic, Gurney discusses a wide range of painting techniques to create imagined realms, from the utilization of maquettes, to the physics of light and its interaction with objects at different times of the day. I am including links to these books above – check them out!
Every so often, I’ll post some links to products I like, with a short description of each. Here’s the first.
Anyone who has talked to me about painting knows I love these panels and have used them for over 10 years. These are pre-gessoed masonite, with a slightly textured surface. Much smoother than canvas, they allow me to get a lot of detail into my miniature paintings, without being so slick that the paint slides around. For framing, they are thin, so you can actually use regular store-bought frames with these, and just pop out the glass and pop in the panel.
The other day, I working at the local co-op gallery that I am a part of, and was scheduled to demo oil painting for customers that stopped by. There was one problem – I had all of my painting supplies, but I didn’t bring anything to paint! Luckily, my lunch came with a lime garnish that then became a lovely little painting. Another day, all I had on hand were some extra tubes of paint from my kit, which then became my subject.
Alla prima sketch paintings are great for practice because they pull you out of your typical subject comfort zone. When I go in search of subjects for these small paintings, I usually don’t know what I’ll end up painting that day.
I highly recommend doing these small paintings from life as they allow you to observe objects in varying lighting conditions, with varying shadow qualities. Replicate what you see as best as you can, but feel free to put some artistic personality in these works. Because you’re not committing to a large, extensive painting, you can try out new colors or application techniques.