Painting Animals from Life

69 minutes Widescreen, 1080p MP4 video plus PDF Supplement. 

James Gurney takes on the ultimate artistic challenge: painting animals from life. Using gouache in a small sketchbook, he shows you all the steps, from the first lines to the color block-in, to the refinement of detail—all the while adjusting to subjects that won’t hold still.

In the first segment he paints a dog resting by a window. In the second, he captures young farm hands as they wash Belgian draft horses. You get a “driver’s seat” perspective, with split-screens and close-ups, along with an informative voice-over commentary that sheds light on universal insights about painting.

“James’ techniques are not only insightful but his knowledge of the animals’ structure and his love of his subjects shine through his whole painting process. A thoroughly enjoyable presentation.” —Gary Geraths, Professor of Art, Otis College of Art and Design

“It’s amazing to watch him get right in there and start drawing with his brush. After that, the looseness of his blocking is wonderful because he knows where it’s going and he’s not afraid to just let the process play itself out.” —Aaron Blaise, co-director of Disney’s Brother Bear and founder of

“Animals are beautiful and a delight to see captured in art, but it can be oh-so-hard to do, as they just won’t hold still or follow direction as a model would. As an animation artist, I'm all too familiar with the challenge of capturing a moment in time. The design of the production opens the viewer up to a profound and deep understanding as to how each piece was created.” —Chuck Grieb, Professor of Entertainment Art & Animation, Cal State Fullerton

“It's magic to watch his paintings develop from big, loose shapes to finished pieces, and there's much to be learned from his thoughtful narration, which includes anecdotes about his models as well as lessons in color, anatomy and perspective.” —Shari Blaukopf, teacher and urban sketcher

“I found that when I'm teaching workshops, the artists are mostly transparent watercolorists and confused about using opaque mediums, and drawing first, then filling in the color. Your video shows them that the important part is laying in tones and values and getting your perspective and composition correct right away and then you can do as much detail as you want.” —Morton E. Solberg

“For starters, as artist and educator, James Gurney is a superb storyteller with the ability to delight, inform and entertain all the while setting you back on your heels with wicked skill sets.” —Donald Colley

“James is not only a master of life sketching but he’s an excellent teacher. In this video he breaks down his process into manageable parts while clearly expressing his approach to problem solving.” —Jeff Hein