Monday, April 11, 2011

Just a quick post today! But I am able to get to an internet hotspot and again, I am operational.
I am going to do a step by step of a painting I am working on. The scenery is really big here and I am doing my best to compress it onto a 24 by 30. You can see that I have started out with a sketch on the canvas in burnt sienna. I shoved it around for over half the session trying to get it designed. I care more about the design than anything that follows. If I get the design right I get a good painting. If I don't, no matter of detail or finish will make the thing work.


Ultimately I pushed the right hand crag over to the right as I felt the painting balanced better with it over there. I want the mountain on the left to read as the subject and "loom" over the rest of the landscape. I have not touched the white at all. As soon as I do that I "lock down" the painting and can no longer easily shove it around. I am using a little violet (transparently) in my shadows to make those clearer.

Here is the start of my lay in. I pushed the sky a little to the right over in that upper right hand corner to refine the shape of the Casa Grande mountain. Then the light failed. I will work on another picture for the morning session, and then late this afternoon I will take this one out again. I am not a plein air painter by many peoples definition, but then neither was Monet. I often work repeated sessions on a painting.


I will return tomorrow with the next stage of this painting ( if I don't get snake bit!)


Philip Koch said...

Best of luck Stape in what must be the West. It can be really tricky for an east coast landscape painter to venture out into the arrid mountains. I remember falling flat on my face with the paintings I tried to do right after grad school when I went to teach in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Somebody ought to teach those upstart Western mountains to behave like their more genteel easterrn cousins.

Guess that's whay it's called the "wild" West.

P.S. I remember one time just about fainting when I was absorbed in my tasks painting in the Texas Hill Country and an armadillo walked over my toes.

Kyle V Thomas said...


Are you in Arizona? Looking forward to seeing the progression of this.
Whip that thing into submission!

digitect said...

Such a timely post for my situation. I always feel too pressured to get to color, isn't that what plein air painters are supposed to do? Yet just yesterday, my ambitious application of color overran the design so quickly that I trashed my support and palette in frustration two colors in.

I have such limited time to paint that I always want it to go fast. But my most successful paintings are ones where I can take my time. Still life gives me so much more control, but I'd rather paint landscapes than fruit and don't want to paint from photos either.

I suppose if even Stape takes days, I can too. Thanks for the encouraging post.

Thomas Kitts said...


There is nothing in the union card that says a plein air painter must complete a work in one session. (That's for membership in the alla prima club, eh?)

So go do that voodoo you do and spread it out over as many days as you need!

And nice start, BTW.

Thomas Jefferson Kitts

Anonymous said...

Stape, thanks for posting your demo. I remember these statements from your workshop - they've been helpful and come to mind often.

"You can't observe design into a painting"... that's one of the most memorable.

Jim G. said...

As a former Pennsylvanian now living out West, I can relate to how overwhelming it can be shifting gears from small, forested hills to huge, rugged mountains, desert canyons, and vast open spaces where you can sometimes see for 50 or 100 miles.

I don't care if it's pure plein air or not, I'm looking forward to the rest of the demo. I'm happy to see you paint a western landscape.

I can also relate to painting (and hiking and camping) in rattlesnake country! Don't get snake bit!

Kathleen said...

Hope ur wearing your snake boots! l-kk

Deb said...

oh boy, oh boy, oh boy... love these
works in progress... thanks for posting these... Great color so far.

Philip, you're one of the only people to see an actual LIVE armadillo. Most of them are flat and dead on the highway. Once I saw one that someone had propped up against a signpost, complete with cigarette and beer can.

Ramon said...

You're inching closer to our turf, come over to LA! You get the sun and the ocean breeze!

MCG said...

"I am not a plein air painter by many peoples definition, but then neither was Monet. I often work repeated sessions on a painting."

These words gave me solace today. Years ago when I started to paint I went plein air a lot. I didn't really know a damn thing about painting, or life, and I was pretty reckless and had great fun with a palette knife and a pochade box. Those paintings are mercifully gone now and I've been painting in the comfort of my studio for a long time. Or rather, I was.
In the middle of a life changing move, we decided we would take some time in New Mexico where I would paint outdoors. Baptism by fire is what it's become. Lately, I am simultaneously thanking and cursing this blog. The other day, I slid down some rocks onto my back. "Stape!" has become my favorite curse word. I won't share the long list of disasters I've encountered, but I don't remember plein air being this hard. I've scraped off more than I've painted.
I have some large work planned and some of it makes use of the outdoors. Every now and then I'd get out and do a quick knife sketch but nothing serious. I've realized from my visits here that there is no way I will accomplish what I want without getting outdoors and doing these paintings, er..studies, plein air alla prima oil sketches.
The only thing keeping me going is knowing that I am learning some things, and that this is going to serve me back in the studio. I don't know how long I can do it, it's just not my thing I don't think. BUT, someday I know I will be thanking you immensely...or holding you personally responsible. :]

Stephanie Berry said...

So where are you? I love that you're showing some of your own work. It's good to see how you build your painting. Actually, from what I can see online, I love the way it looks right now. Reminds me of Cezanne.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you for your comments. I am going to skip individual replies today. I am in an remote location and my internet time is limited.