James Gurney painting in the Grand Canyon

He writes one of the most popular blogs for artists, he created the Dinotopia phenomenon, he’s written informative books for artists, and he is a dedicated plein air painter. Now you will have a chance to meet James Gurney and listen to his keynote address at the Plein Air Convention & Expo in Monterey, California (www.pleinairconvention.com).

“West Point Chapel,” by James Gurney

When James Gurney speaks during the opening-night program at the Plein Air Convention & Expo (April 10-14, 2013), he will offer an insightful look at pictorial composition through three different lenses: visual perception (how do viewers really look at pictures?), communication (what does the picture hope to get across?), and tonal design (how can the lights and darks be arranged for maximum effect?). “My approach looks at examples from art history, focusing primarily on Howard Pyle,” Gurney explains. “The discussion is informed by findings that are emerging from cutting-edge research in eye tracking. I’ll share practical tips for working artists looking for new ways to generate memorable pictures, whether from imagination or observation.”

The book jacket for Dinotopia

When viewers look at a paintings, how do their eyes travel? That’s the question artists need an answer to, and Gurney will describe some researchers’ findings. He will help everyone in the audience discover whether viewers’ eyes move in a circular pathway, follow contours, go to the grid lines of a golden section, or gravitate to areas of maximum contrast. He’ll help everyone discover if it’s truly possible to design a picture so it controls the viewer’s eyes.

James Gurney

Gurney will also explore ways that artists’ thoughts and emotions help shape images in paintings, how they can be inspired by working directly from nature, and how they might improve their work by following the “Theory of Sacrifice.” Make sure you are in the audience when he offers these words of wisdom and inspiration. For more information, visit www.jamesgurney.com.


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