Instructional Video “Portraits in the Wild” by James Gurney

I find portraits the most challenging subjects since you need to capture the likeness of the person whereas a tree is always a tree. To paint a particular person you need to take extra care.

Portrait with tablet

Me painting a young woman on a fair with a Samsung Galaxy Note tablet.

On business fairs I drew many many portraits using smartphones or tablets with a pressure sensitive stylus pen. With modern technology you not only have an Undo functionality but also other effects which help you to be faster and create effects of different appearance.

But the videos by James Gurney encouraged me to use Gouache and watercolor paints as a traditional medium. Gouache has the benefit of being an opaque watercolor and therefore behaves kind of like oilpaint – just mixable with water which is easier to clean on location.

Gouache Postcards

The postcards I painted during vacation on Elba/Italy.

Inspired by the video “Gouache in the Wild” (see the trailer here and buy it on Gumroad here) I painted landscape paintings during last year’s vacation on Elba/Italy on postcard watercolor paper from Fabriano and sent these to my familiy and friends. I also sent James Gurney one of these postcards as a thank you for his inspiration and contribution to the art world. Please visit his website and his YouTube channel.

On June 13th, 2016 he published a new video – “Portraits in the Wild” which is especially interesting to me because of the aforementioned reasons that I love doing portraits.

James Gurney takes us to four different occasions with four different media: ink filled waterbrushes, Gouache, oil paints and Casein.

Without much of talking he jumps right into the first painting – a public scene where people are moving constantly. He is not trying to be super precise but rather tries to capture the gestures of the figures. For example he combines different bodyparts into one figure and changes other elements just how they appear in front of him.

The second portrait is one of a historic reenactor who answers James’ questions and therefore is moving his head all the time which makes it especially challenging but lets him appear very alive in the painting.

The third portrait is a gathering of several painters at a stable and you get the chance to see the different approaches of the other ones as well as James Gurney’s full head and shoulders portrait in oil paints. He paints the stable owner in three hours and the end result resembles the sitter perfectly.

Portraits in the WildIn the fourth scene he paints a singing group which makes it also very difficult to keep the track. For this multi people portrait he needs to change decisions all the time.

This video is not so much about technical information on the materials but rather about the challenges, the approach and the thought process during portrait painting “in the Wild” when people are moving all the time.

What I learned from this video was to not be too hesitantly with making corrections and overpainting areas. Especially with the singers in Casein or the reenactor in Gouache I first thought “oh no, don’t do that” when he overpainted the faces but in the end it was the better choice and it wasn’t a problem at all. In the video James explains when he can make changes and when not.

Cover Portraits in the WildHere are some links related to James Gurney and his portraits:

And of course take a look at the other videos that he is offering through or

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“Return to Florence” – a documentary on Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy


Life as a classical art student in Florence, Italy

Click the image to order the DVD at

I always dreamt of having the money to go to Florence and learn classical art at an academy – if it’s the Angel Academy, Florence Academy or Cecil Studios. The documentary “Return to Florence” wasn’t really helpful in relieving this desire.

I saw an ad on this documentary on the Art Renewal website and asked my girlfriend if she is still looking for a birthday present for me. So then I got the DVD for birthday.

It is no instructional video where you learn something on making classical art but it is rather a documentary on some foreign students living in Florence, Italy to learn a traditional craft at Charles H. Cecil Studios. All of them have different family backgrounds and prerequisites but all have one thing in common: the desire to learn a traditional craft just like I do and I think the majority of this website’s visitors too.

Besides the student’s view we also learn about the views of a student’s mother, a writer, a model and others.

What are they doing now?

Return to Florence was filmed in 2005 so now after 10 years I was curious if the students made it as an artist or not. Here are the student’s websites if you are curious too:

Watch the trailer:

Order “Return to Florence” at

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Let others pay for your education

 Crowdfund your classical art training and give something in return


As you know classical art training at an academy is expensive but what if your desire to attend an academy is so strong that you don’t want to learn it on your own at home?

Aspiring artists Eliza Moser and Arthur Haywood started their own crowdfunding projects at to make their dream come true. While Eliza aimed to go to the Florence Academy of Art Arthur crowdfunded for the Grand Central Atelier.

Each of them made their own calculations on how much they would need. If you are interested just look in the description of the respective Kickstarter project:

As a supporter of a crowdfunding project you get something in return. Eliza offered free prints of a stil life for those who donated more than $500. Arthur offered staggered rewards – depending on the amount of the donation.

So how can I get people to pay for my education?

Ok, you are convinced that this method brings you closer to a professional art education at an academy? On the blog of Tim Ferris I found an article on “How to raise $100,000 in 10 Days“. This should be sufficient to attend a classical art school in Florence including accomodation, eating ect. 🙂

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25% off Scott Waddell’s videos and win one of two artworks

by courtesy of Scott Waddell

by courtesy of Scott Waddell

If you read my blog on a regular basis you propably know Scott Waddell. I’ve written two blog posts on him to date (1, 2) and this is the third one. Not because we have some kind of contract and this is his promotional platform 🙂 but rather because he is offering much for little money – all for your benefit and I’d like to share it!

This time you can save 25% on all his instructional videos by entering the code ‘25videos‘ into the discount code field of the shopping cart screen. For more details take a look at his newly designed website.

But here comes the best part of it: with your purchase you will enter the competition for winning one of two of his artworks – a painting and a drawing. (offer expires June 15th)

I hope so much that I win one of them. I’d be willing to pay for shipping 🙂

So please forgive me if I’m not wishing you luck 🙂




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Instructional video by Douglas Flynt

I recently wrote about Scott Waddell’s new instructional video “Drawing & Painting” and considered it as very valuable since it is packed with lots of information.

Two days later I found Douglas Flynt’s instructional video which somehow went under my radar since it is available for over 2 months now. With $39.95 (~29€) for 74 minutes it is about the same as Scott’s video. And it has the same information density – if not even more!

I also wrote about the Munsell color system recently and if you still have questions about it, watch this video and see how it is applied in a still life painting.

Sit back and listen to his bedtime story voice.

Not only this video is very informative – Douglas has also two free demonstrations on his website:

Demo #1

Demo #2

And his blog is also full of information

douglas flynt2

douglas flynt

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