Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eagle Cliff

Here is a picture of the piece I was painting in the photo from a day or two ago. I delivered it this evening and it will hang in a show in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, tomorrow. This is a historic painting location. I painted it in a limited palette, but not the three color chromatic palette that most people today think of as a three color palette. I used Gold Ochre, ivory black, burnt sienna, and white, I did add a smidgen of blue to the sky and I used a tiny bit of mars red in a few of the trees. I want to go back and paint a fall scene there. I intend to spend as much time painting the White Mountains this fall as I can. Below is a Jervis McEntee of the same scene in the 1860's.

Here is David Johnsons painting from 1864 below. He must have been a couple of hundred feet back, It is heavily wooded there, but most of New England was clear then and is wooded now.

Here is what is really there.

Here is an AT Bricher of the scene.

This is obviously a studio piece , done from a drawing, it looks nothing like the actual place. I am always surprised when I hunt down the sites where the 19th century painters worked, how much artistic license they took. Of all of these paintings, mine was the only one done on location though. All of the luminist paintings would have been made in the 10th street studios in New York, from drawings made on location.

Today the last post I wrote on eviscerating myths was picked up and republished by Fine art Views, they have something like 9000 readers. I guess its like swimming, once the water is over your head it doesn't matter if it is 10 feet deep or a 100 its all the same. I guess it is the same writing ,it doesn't make a difference,really, how many you are writing for. I don't know if any of you noticed, but I was deliberately trying to be provocative in writing that last post. I expect that I upset a few readers over at the other site, but that is what happens if I write what I really think. I guess I am a little out of the mainstream.

All of that painting,writing, posturing, and delivering has made me exhausted so I will close for tonight. I will see you all tomorrow.

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Jesse said...

Your painting turned out great. It's amazing what can be done with just a few colors. Is gold ocher pretty similar to yellow ocher? I've been trying to use more yellow ocher and less cad yellow for landscapes.

Jervis McEntee's painting is pretty good, but he really blew the proportions. The tree's at the foot of the hill are HUGE, and near the peak tiny. It throws off the feeling of size in the massive piece of rock. said...

Hi Stapleton,
I've been away also. (Swan's Island Maine, no coincidence.)I practiced massing my darks.

Anyway,I think those tips are used more to encourage beginners and student painters. And students do need encouragement and often they do need to stop a piece and go on to the next one. So I really don't object to any of that stuff if it can get a student to stop, look at the happy accident, learn why it works and go on. Likewise it can be good advice stop "overworking" a painting that isn't going to go anywhere or is becoming too much like a photograph. Time to get on to the next lesson. The problem is that when the student-beginner painter hears these little ditties, they hear them as life time art rules and that is just not going to work as you clearly point out.

And clearly if someone doesn't have skill or persistence to acquire skill they try to be satisfied with originality or controversy (hence Damien Hirst's cut up animals and so forth. He even admits he did this because he couldn't learn to paint).

Anyway, the better I got , the more the instructors demanded from me and the more pointed and critical their comments. That's how I could tell I was no longer a beginner. So for all you student artists out there who are hearing these easy platitudes, you might want to wonder why you are not having more failures? Could be you're not trying hard enough to move beyond your happy accidents.

LOVE that Schmid book. I have quoted that quote over and over to anyone who says they want to paint "loose". I love a "loose" painting but I can always tell if it comes from observation and skill or it's just an excuse for the mess on the canvas.

Woodward Simons said...


Wow, what an absolutely lovely painting. I've painted there. I thought your painting was one of the historical ones. Hope you're not insulted by that.

Thanks for going out on a limb for the Fine Art Views' post. Blogs like yours get artists thinking about why and how they paint. It's interesting to hear and acknowledge different views.

Todd Bonita said...

Thats a phenominal painting you did. My gosh...and with that limited pallet you mentioned. Makes a fella really think about his pallet choices.

I'd be interested in painting with you at that location. Beaman Cole and myself have been chatting about painting together again, maybe we could head up together some time...just a thought.

Be good,

willek said...

Very interesting to see all the different versions. You really have me thinking about the pallet you used. I have to try it out. The colors in your version were very classical and appropriate for the scenery. I wonder if you really needed that touch of blue. I have been amazed at how much blue the ivory black and white can yield.

Expunde= talking at great length about corny jokes based on words that sound the same but have different meanings.

Knitting Out Loud said...

GREAT painting, Stape!

CAVIS said...

Your works keep looking amazing!

Unknown said...

well, I will add my applause - that is one of the nicest ones you've posted yet. It is just perfect. I can almost hear the late summer
buzz of the dragonflies. Atmosphere and light - it has 'em.

I soaked my knee in that lake once, after doing a double Prezi traverse in the Whites.. that water is COLD. It was good.

I will be away for a few days in the Adirondacks. I am bringing the paintbox, but doubt I will get a chance to paint. Happy Labor Day everybody!

Unknown said...

Why write if you are not going to state something worth reading anyways?

The luminists worked in the studio, but didn't they at least do color studies on location besides their pencil sketch?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. Since I have no cadmium yellow when I am on the reduced palette I am glad to have that ocher with more chroma.I am very fond of Jervis McEntee, but that is not one of my favorites.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think people just repeat most of those things without examining them much.They have become sort of boilerplate phrases that everyone says because....well you are supposed to.
Fasa reprinted that post and I had some people pretty unhappy with me. But no one over on this side seemed to have a a problem with it. You all may be accustomed to my stchick.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I seem to be running about 50=50 in the comments. But whether they like what I say or not, I like that they are responding..

Stapleton Kearns said...

Todd: Thank you very much. The limited palette makes it easier not harder.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am so excited about fall. I want to run those palette Games on the White Mountains in the fall.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Expund= can't do better than yours!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I used shoe additives of the oleaginous sort.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. Are you an individual or an institution?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thankyou. Email me upon your return and we can discuss the workshop.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Writing is a discipline, meaning is a luxery.
The luminists did painted sketches, but they are pretty much in a limited palette. There is a good book on those. I am trying to remember its title.It might be "the painte sketch"

Philip Koch said...

Thought I'd commented on your painting this morning, but probably forgot to push the "Publish Your Comment" button again. Anyway, nice piece!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.

innisart said...


Wow! Thanks for the research and the images. I really enjoyed seeing all of those versions of the same locale.

I loved the colors in your piece, but had a question for you about the gold ochre. What brand are you using? Gold ochre varies greatly by brand (ie. Old Holland's gold ochre is natural ochre pigment, much more like W&N's yellow ochre). I assume yours is a synthetic iron oxide?