Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Stapleton Kearns takes a look at my newest video

When I produced a video with "FANTASY" in the title, I knew it wouldn't appeal to everybody, because not everyone is interested in science fiction or surrealism. Some folks want to paint things more or less as they are (me too, actually, a lot of the time).

One of the best of those observational painters is Stapleton Kearns, a New Englander who would have been at home painting alongside Aldro Hibbard or Willard Metcalf.

Stape runs a great art blog that he'll be turning into a book, and in the latest post he reviews my video on painting concept art on location. He says:
"It is divided into two chapters, the first has James on location painting a street scene. He adds a flying car, and shows how he uses a small toy on location to do it. I can't imagine putting a flying car in one of my pictures, but who am I to say, having featured the occasional burning phone booth? The value of this is watching a master of drawing slice up a location picture like a roast. It is an excellent demo of outdoor painting skill, done with a bit of humor."

Since Stape says he can't imagine his painting with a flying car, I have taken the liberty of putting one flying across one of his paintings. He would point out that I have made the mistake of putting the key element in the middle of the composition, a classic compositional error. But the driver of the flying car is there because he is just trying to steer between those trees, and he is dealing with a stiff spring crosswind.

Stape was doing plein-air painting before most folks used the French word for it. Back in those days we usually called it "outdoor painting" or "on-the-spot painting." Plein-air was a term we read about in old art books, and we used the term when we wanted to sound pretentious. When we really wanted to sound pretentious, we'd half-close our eyes, tilt our heads back, and say we were painting en plein air.
Back row: Tom Kinkade, Stapleton Kearns, Kevin Eugene Johnson? James Warhola,
James Gurney, Tom Kidd, and Jeanette Gurney. Paul Chadwick and Elizabeth Moon
in lower left.
In his blog post he recalls an artist get-together in April, 1990 when he and I first met. My memory of that day was that all the rest of us artists were just talking about art, but he came in to the party with paint on his jacket and with three fresh oil paintings that he had done that morning. He blew us all away with his dedication and skill, and he still does.

Stapleton Kearns runs a painters' snow camp in March, which I recommend for the hardy. He says "I will work you like a borrowed mule," and he means it. You can find info about it in his latest post.

Here is Stape's review of "Fantasy in the Wild." And here is his post about the burning phone booth.
Gumroad link for my video.


Roberto said...

Hey Jimi Gi!-
Thanks for reminding me of Stapes Blog, I completely lost track of it when he stopped posting (I have such a short attention span since they changed my meds and disconnected the electrodes.) I’m glad to hear that he has finally taken my advice to make a book of his blog, I’v been after him for years to do this!
For any of your blog readers not familiar with Mr. Kearns’ blog, I highly recommend it as a deep resource for not only plein-air, but also oil-painting in general, tools of the trade, composition and design, and a lot of good advice on making a living with ones brushes and wits.
I am a big fan of Stapleton’s work, and I thought he was finally onto something big with that flaming-phone-booth-thing. But alas, the ‘shrieking-Muse’ must have abandoned him. Maybe your ‘Fantasy-in-the-Wild’ video and the flying-car demo will serve as a re-boot. ;p -RQ

Steve said...

I had the distinct privilege of participating in a workshop Stape conducted at Acadia NP in the fall of 2010. It was a few days of jam-packed learning and memorable one-liners. He was grateful I took seriously his listing of "a fine cigar" on the list of recommended supplies to bring to the workshop. He generally had a cigar fired up and a can of Moxie at hand while painting. At one point, a family of Japanese tourists walked by while Stape was doing his demo at his sturdy Take It easel. A young girl in the group, about six years old, was clearly fascinated by the paints, brushes, and Stape's paint-spattered clothes. He handed her his loaded brush and let her add a few dabs to his painting. She walked away beaming.

WoodNfish said...

You are right about the pretentiousness of "plein Aire", and you can add it to "giclee", and "maquette". What is it about the art world that leads its practitioners toward snobbery of this sort? I liken it to opera all being sung in foreign languages here in the USA. It is the reason most opera has to be subsidized because your typical consumer refuses to willingly pay for something they do not understand and has to be forced to pay for it by the stealing it out of the local tax base. It is even worse because Americans have shown they love musicals which are in alsmost every way the same as "operas" except they are also popular. Go figure.

Nice blog btw, and I am loving your art and videos.