James Gurney’s latest instructional video, Watercolor in the Wild (DVD here and download here), is an educational and entertaining trip into the mind of one of America’s most respected artist/illustrator’s.

The trailer for Watercolor in the Wild.

Other reviews are here and here, and I agree with their conclusions. Without a doubt, Watercolor in the Wild is a wonderful instructional video.

What strikes me most is Gurney’s inventiveness. Watching him paint you soon realize that he lets NOTHING stand in his way. If he needs a specialized piece of equipment, he manufactures it. Take a look at the screen, attached to the easel (in the first image of the post). That screen, or diffuser as Gurney explains in the video, is there to diffuse the light hitting the paper. It’s a modern-day version of the artist’s umbrella and it’s far more portable. This means that he is not limited to painting only where he can setup in an indirect lighting situation.

The screen shot, below, shows his solution to the problem of the sliding water source.

Of course, watercolor painting needs water. On site, especially in a remote location, water has to be carried with you and once set up you need a convenient way to access it. Why not add small magnets to your water cup so that it sticks to your palette?

What happens when your subject gets friendly? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.

In addition to the materials aspects of the process, Gurney shows plenty of practical tips for how to quickly capture your subject. In the screen shot, below, you see him ‘sighting’ with the use of a pencil. The goal, of course, is to help you correctly render the angles of your subject.


All in all I found Watercolor in the Wild to be a brilliant example of a successful artist passing on his knowledge. It is a great addition to my library and it will be to yours. I may even set my oils aside for awhile and dip my toe in the water!


Watercolor in the Wild is available through the links on Gurney’s site, here.
Cool bonus features are here and here.