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Special Events

James Gurney
At the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery
April 22nd from 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Artist James Gurney to Lecture at Yellow Barn Studio
The Friends of the Yellow Barn will welcome internationally known artist, author, and illustrator, James Gurney, to the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery on Sunday, April 22, from 5:00 – 8:00 pm. Mr. Gurney will present two brief lectures, “Composition: The Eye, the Mind, and the Story” and “Looking at Faces,” which will include a live portrait painting demonstration and book signing, with reception to follow. All proceeds from this event benefit the Friends of the Yellow Barn High School Exhibition, honoring inspiring young artists and their teachers for over 19 years.

Cost: $55 (two lectures and reception) or $75 (two lectures, reception, and the book, Color and Light: A Guide for the Realistic Painter)
Seating is limited.
Location: Yellow Barn Studio at Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, Maryland, 20812

An Evening with James Gurney
Email address

For more information contact: Jordan Bruns (

About James Gurney

James Gurney is the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Dinotopia books and Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, his acclaimed book about color theory and application. His artwork has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Norton Museum of Art. He designed the World of Dinosaurs stamps for the U.S. Postal Service and has won the Hugo, Chesley, Spectrum, and World Fantasy Awards. He shares his painting knowledge on his daily blog,

About the Lectures

Composition: The Eye, the Mind, and the Story” examines composition through three 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?)

Gurney uses examples from art history and from cutting-edge research on eye tracking. Gurney shares practical tips for working artists on new ways to generate memorable pictures.

Looking at Faces” builds on recent scientific discoveries about what goes on inside the brain when we look at faces. Humans are hard-wired to see faces; that's why we see them in random forms like rock formations and cheese toast. Eye tracking studies have proven that we fixate most of our attention inside the triangle formed by the two eyes and the mouth when we look at a person, which is why artists work to get that area right. Gurney has been directly involved in recent research that reveals even more about how we see.

What Our Artists Say about James Gurney

"James Gurney has always been one of my heroes and I can't tell you how much I've learned from him over the years. He is incredibly generous with his knowledge and is great at explaining complex ideas and techniques easily and succinctly. The best art schools in the country invite him in as a guest lecturer for their students, who go on to paint and draw for galleries, animate for Pixar and Disney, build worlds digitally, and excel in every facet of the arts. He's also entertaining, funny and gracious. Wherever you're inclined stylistically, you'll walk out of his lecture a better, more inspired artist."
- Gavin Glakas, Award-winning artist

Who is James Gurney? That's was my first thought about 5 years ago when I first saw James at the Portrait Society: he was just another person in the schedule, on a podium, in a dark room, with a monitor behind him. I was half-awake when he was introduced. I did not know his art except that I though he was maybe the guy I'd heard had illustrated some dinosaur kid's books (which were pretty darn good). That was about it. When he started to speak his talk was instantly engaging and he had the whole room riveted with his examples, anecdotes, and thought-provoking ideas. People were laughing out loud. Notes were getting scribbled in books, including mine. He lectured about things I'd never thought of and presented it with ways I have not forgotten since because his visuals were so striking I almost didn't even need notes. I've seen him at every Portrait Society meeting in Reston and there is a reason he gets invited back: professionals can't wait to hear what he will say next. He is an incredible speaker and I can't recommend him highly enough.”
- Christine Lashley, Award-winning artist

I cannot count the times that I’ve recommended “Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter” to my students. Originally, I was a little hesitant to buy into an artist book full of dinosaurs, but I quickly overcame my fine subject bias as soon as I saw the importance and practicality of his teachings. After 5 years, I cannot find a better book to recommend to artists (of all levels) and it has a permanent place in the recommended reading section of my syllabuses. In short, no self-respecting artist should miss this life changing event. – J. Jordan Bruns

23rd Annual Friends of the Yellow Barn Members Show

Each December, artists who are members of the Friends of the Yellow Barn are invited to submit works to an annual juried show. This highly competitive and popular show features the best drawing and painting work by the Yellow Barn members. All works are for sale. The works selected by this year’s juror, Paul Spreiregen, an internationally known architect and author, will be exhibited in the Yellow Barn Gallery, at Glen Echo Park on Saturdays and Sundays, December 2 through 17, from Noon to 5:00 p.m. The exhibition will also be open to the public during Glen Echo Parks "Winter's Eve" event on Saturday, December 9th from 5:00 - 8:00pm. The exhibit will close with an artists reception on Sunday, December 17, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., with an awards presentation beginning at 5:00 p.m. Glen Echo Park is located at 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, Maryland.

Award Winners for the 23rd Annual Friends of the Yellow Barn Members Show
First Place

Olive Tree
Neboisa Rodic
Second Place

Blue, Pink and White with Attitude
Diane Weiner
Third Place

Resurrection City, 1968
Steven Hay
Honorable Mention

Mirko Congiu
Honorable Mention

Rain Out
Christine McNall

Awards Ceremony

Judge's statement Dec 17, 2017

My thanks to Walt Bartman for the invitation, and for managing one of the outstanding art organizations in the metropolitan region, one that serves so many people at so many levels and in so many areas of creativity. It’s an honor to be asked to jury such a diverse and wonderful array of art.

My thanks, too, to Jordan Bruns for the excellent arrangements – and for lending me a favorite book on Giacometti’s painting process – about the agony behind making something that looks simple.

And my thanks to the Board members and the volunteers who set up the exhibit.

Jurying any art show is a very challenging task, but the way the paintings were presented made my task much more manageable. It enabled me to concentrate my efforts looking at each work under equal and optimal conditions. The process speaks very highly for the professionalism of the Yellow Barn.


In judging the submissions I found myself evaluating what I think we’d all agree are the key considerations in painting. These are far less anything any of us has invented, and much more qualities that we’ve discovered, that we’ve discerned, by looking at great art, by being moved by great painting. These considerations aren’t in any way to be taken as a “check list”. Far from it. That’s not at all how we experience art. It’s rather an interplay of qualities experienced simultaneously, as a whole.

One of the issues that presents itself in judging an art show, indeed art generally and especially in Western art, is a seeming division between representational and abstract art. I think it’s a simplistic distinction. Representational art can have many elements of abstraction; abstract art may not represent what we see, but it can and does represent what we feel and what we think. The distinction cannot be dismissed, but the more you ponder it the more it blurs.

So let me offer what I think are the considerations that constitute the qualities we seek and prize in art, qualities that present themselves as we look at the show here, qualities that informed me judging the show, remembering that they perform simultaneously. I’ve intentionally jumbled them to emphasize their simultaneity.

Degree of challenge in subject matter
Creativity in portraying the subject
Use of materials
Execution and craftsmanship, artisanship
A new and original way of seeing and portraying anything
Ennobling the ordinary
Color – muted and narrow in range, or exuberant and
broad in range
Mass, form, line, contour
Hard edge, soft edge, no edge
Sfumato, chiaroscuro, contrapunto, al fresco, ala prima, pentimenti (thanks, Italy)
Reference, allusion – to the past, to great works of the past, to anything other than the painting itself
Intimacy of experience – (Michelangelo drawings) –seeing the real thing close up
And last, and to maybe to sum up all the rest - transcendence, evocative power – the quality of a work to elevate us, making us more human, making us our better selves


My assignment was to select a first, second, and third prize winner, and three honorable mentions. But I found so many deserving works that I added about ten paintings that I felt deserved commendation.

I’ll start with those - the Commendations (C) - then the Honorable Mentions (HM) and end with the Three Top Prizes.

C Raka Bose Saha
Millet in My Studio (acrylic)
A well-developed personal technique, with I think a tribute to the painting “The Gleaners” of Jean-Francois Millet – a nice acknowledgment of our predecessors.

C Patricia Craighill
Piedmont Spring Hunt (oil)
A finely developed oil painting technique, composition, and perspective.

C Gail Markowitz
Lavender Field Provence (pastel)
A passive scene passively interpreted, but its composing masses and lines skillfully keeps the viewer’s eye moving through and across it.

C James Vissari
Village Winery (oil)
Skillful and always compelling variation on a simple theme – grapes – juxtaposed with linear compositional elements, the grapes vines that hold it all together.

C June Farrell
October Dreaming (oil)
Masterful and spontaneous brushwork, fine color play and color complements. It reminded me of John Marin’s intention about his seascape paintings, that he wanted “to make a paint wave a-breaking on a paint shore”.

C Karen Greenberg
Cheers (oil)
Masterful gesture and spontaneity, saying a lot with a little.

C Jingyuan Zhang
Perfect 10 (oil)
A masterful still life approaching trompe l’oeil, beautiful composition and rendering.

C Julian Davies
Borgward (oil)
A masterful photo realist rendering of a prize car, excellent perspective.

And now the three Honorable Mentions …

HM Leigh Culver
Arcadia Rocks (watercolor)
Masterful use of watercolor with all its spontaneity and freshness, masterful brushwork and color, resulting in a sparkling and evocative northern Maine coast scene. It puts you there.

HM Christine McNall
Rain Out (oil)
A yellow car scene through a dripping window – a masterful transposition of an ordinary scene masterfully recreated/transposed into of all things an oil painting.

HM Mirko Congiu
Irene (oil)
A masterfully executed portrait, certainly one of the most challenging of all subjects, particularly of women.

And the three Top Prizes …

3rd Steven Hay
Resurrection City (oil)
Masterful rendering of light, composition and patterns of light and dark, a latter history-painting of an event on the Mall back in the ‘sixties.

2nd Diane Weiner
Blue, Pink and White with Attitude (oil)
Masterful in its complexity, anatomy, color subtlety, and intricacy – transcending the immediate subject by linking the living spirit of an animal with our own.

1st Rodic Nebojsa
Olive Tree (oil)
Masterful in addressing a highly complex subject with elegant forms, contours, light and shadow, light reflections, coloring and overall painting technique.

A last word …

There are an infinite number of possible subjects for art. Of them I’d like to point out just two of the many represented her – trees and cows.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts there are 288,000 professional artists in the US. Add all the non-professionals who draw, paint and sculpt and there are very many more.

As for their relation to just two subjects, trees and cows, there are 228 billion trees in the US, over 1,000 per person, or over 790,000 per NEA artist.

As for cows there are 94.1 million cows in the US – 10.6 cows per person, but still more than a formidable 300 cows per NEA artist.

The moral: help is desperately needed. So everyone get out there and paint!

Paul Spreiregen

About our Judge

Paul Spreiregen is a Washington-based architect and planner with a life-long interest and devotion to the visual arts. In his work as an architect he places high priority on suiting structures to their natural settings, usually working on-site to conceive a structure and imagine how it will appear, striving always to be deferential to nature. He sketches avidly while traveling. His favorite subjects are landscape and the human figure.

His career interests and activities have been unusually diverse. He was the first Director of Architecture and Design Programs at the National Endowment for the Arts. He wrote and broadcast a weekly commentary on design for National Public Radio over a period of twelve years. He has written, edited or co-authored approximately a dozen books on architecture and planning. He has organized and conducted architectural design competitions, most notably the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall.

He is a native of Boston, attended classes at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, is a graduate of MIT, and was a Fulbright student in Italy. He has been a visiting lecturer and teacher at numerous schools of architecture, planning and landscape architecture. In recent years he has been a regular student of Robert Liberace in his figure and portrait studio classes.

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