Saturday, 20 August 2011

JAMES GURNEY GETS HIS CAR INSPECTED

Illustrator James Gurney wrote:
"Yesterday I took my car to the shop because it needed an inspection. The rain was pouring down. There wasn't much space in the waiting room. So I sat under the awning out back between an old rusty engine and a forklift.
While I waited, I sketched the mud puddle beside me. The rain streamed off the corrugated roof  and splashed the water, making big bubbles. The puddle was a sea of overlapping ripples."

I love this little study, not just for how it looks but for what it signifies. 

Gurney is the creator of the famed Dinotopia series, whose books, calendars, posters, prints and collectibles have become a publishing sensation.   He is renowned for his illustrations for National Geographic and his more than 70 book covers, as well as stamps and animated films.

Gurney working on one of his carefully researched illustrations for National Geographic,
with his parakeet on his shoulder 

He authored two excellent books on art, Color and Light and Imaginative Realism and in his spare time he writes one of the best, most informative art blogs around.    I get exhausted just reading about his accomplishments.  Here is his work plan for the 160 illustrations he created for Dinotopia: The World Beneath:


So when Gurney finally gets a few minutes of respite from the easel to take care of routine car maintenance, what does he do?  He becomes so intrigued by the effect of rain drops in a mud puddle that he pauses to produce the lovely study above.

Gurney's fans ask him about his work habits.   He tells them, "I typically work from 8:30 to 5:30 five or six days a week."

Nonsense.

The problem with Gurney is that he can't distinguish between work and play.   Robert Frost wrote about that state of grace, where the thing we need to do and the thing we love to do "are one."
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.
Some of the most successful artists are the ones whose eyes can't help but see-- and whose hand can't help but investigate-- the beauty of a rain puddle even while they are waiting in a dreary line for their car to be inspected.