Thursday, September 17, 2009

A visit to Old Lyme

I took a drive down to the Old Lyme Art Association today. I am going to write a little about that and we can return to the fitting table and some nice screw eyes and D rings tomorrow. I was invited to be in a show there called The New England Landscape, that opens on Friday Sept 25 and runs until December 5.

At the turn of the century artists began coming to paint in the summer and stay at the Florence Griswold House. The first was Henry Ward Ranger who was a seminal tonalist painter. The American impressionist painters followed and for a generation Old Lyme Connecticut was THE American Impressionist summer art colony. It drew Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, and numerous others including Bruce Crane who I wrote about a week or two ago.

In 1907 Metcalf did a painting of the Flo Griz, as it is affectionately called. It was of the grand house in the moonlight that was bought by the Corcoran. It made both he and the Flo Gris famous.The artists painted decorative panels about the house. It has been newly restored and it can be toured. Here is an old photo taken of Metcalf and the others on the back porch of the building.

Image from: Sunlight and Shadow by Elizabeth de Veer and Richard J. Boyle Abbeville Press 1987
Metcalf is on the end, turned to face the camera. I took a photo on that porch today, here that is;

As you who have read this blog for a while know, I enjoy finding places that the "old guys" worked and hung out. Here is another shot of the Art Association which opened in 1921.

The building was designed by a well known architect of that time, Charles Platt, who was also a painter and etcher. He had studied painting in Paris and was a friend to many of that generation of American impressionist painters.

After Metcalfs wife began an affair with his student, Robert Nesbit, Metcalf no longer came to Old Lyme, but began traveling to paint in Cornish, New Hampshire. Most of the great Metcalfs were painted there. Here is one now.

I have painted around Cornish, a number of times.. The area around the Platt house where Metcalf stayed is heavily posted and their seems to be no way for an artist to park a car or work in that area. But the Platt home where Metcalf stayed when he was in Cornish still remains and is well maintained and as elegant as it must have been a century ago.

For you art history buffs, here is tonight's weird little art historical factoid. Charles Platts wife, Eleanor was the widow of American Impressionist painter Dennis Miller Bunker. Bunker had died tragically young, shortly after their marriage.

Since I was driving down to deliver a painting I contacted Jan Blencowe, a heroine of the twitter world. I called her up and suggested that we paint together today. I told you before, I am not shy. She has built an enormous following using twitter. She has 1800 followers, I guess that's a lot.

I had never met her, but I read some of her tweets and I decided she could probably teach me some about social media as a promotion tool. She explained that there is no large city near her in that part of Connecticut, so she decided to connect with a larger audience using social media. Jan told me that galleries now find her through her presence on Twitter and elsewhere on the web. Here she is painting with me on a tidal marsh near Old Lyme. Here is a link to her web site.

We had a great time painting and talking about self promotion on the net. It was pretty gray today and I didn't make much of a painting. I tell myself that each day I will either get a painting or a lesson. Today I got a lesson.

12 comments: said...

Hi Stapleton,
You haven't lost me here. I'm getting ready for the South End Open Studios because it's the way some of us can sell (sometimes!)

I go out with a couple of guys who just love those grey days. Granted it's easier to paint that flat light but for ME it does not make a painting. As you said it makes a lesson.

And for the Stape Blog Readers: if you haven't tried Stapleton's suggestion of using Flesh color in your landscape mixing, you ought to try it. It's the cat's pajamas. Thank you Stapleton. I keep adding your suggestions one by one and maybe some day , I'll have a landscape to show you.

Question: When everyone is twittering can you really get your twitter read. Or do people just pass it all by like they have learned to do with e-mail?

Mary Bullock said...

Marian - I've noticed that some people repost their tweet at different intervals for a few times- say, every 8 hours for one day. That way, you can be sure to cross everyone's path, no matter what time of day they check Twitter.

willek said...

I just got the new book, "Art Colonies of New England" It is about Cos Cob, Old Lyme, Ogunquit and Monhegan. We need another book with all the rest of them.

Those are impressive numbers that Jan is putting up. I have absolutely no understanding of the Twitting world. I guess I had better find out.

Great post, by the way, the D.M. Bunker factoid was a pearl.

We have been painting in the rain a lot this year. A canopy tent helps a lot. I like it, the shadows stay put throughout the day. There is often mist and heavy downpours and sometimes real torrents with lots of wind. If we had to wait for the sun this year, we would have been in the studio a lot.

Posted land really irks me. It used to be that in New England, unless land was posted, you could trespass. This was essential to hunting gamebirds in the sixties.That has all changed now as whole towns post themselves at town meetings and new city folk bought up open land and posted it. The right of passing through comes from an English tradition in their countryside. It has been an issue in England in recent years. It kills me that you cannot get to the ocean to paint it or look at it on 99 percent of our coast. We paint on Swan's Island it's a beautiful place, but at least 1/4 of the island offers no views of the water as all the land and roads are private and posted. Around here, it was a process. The land was posted and a short time later it became a housing subdivision. It happened big time where you live in Southern New Hampshire with the escape from Taxachusetts.

Sorry to rumble on. it was a great post. I feel better now.

Philip Koch said...

Speaking of posted land and/or no place to park near the best landscape painting motifs, we have to admit there are dark forces out there who don't seem to like us landscape painters very much. It's funny-none of us live but a few moments compared to the lifetime of the landscape, yet human conceit gives us the notion that someone can "own" the land. There more you think about it, the nuttier the idea is.

Unknown said...

"I tell myself that each day I will either get a painting or a lesson."

I like that! Although, I haven't got a painting yet...

Stapleton Kearns said...

I was about ready to start dragging the Charles, glad to know you are well.I am not real informed on twitter, but it looks like the question has been answered by Mary.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks for your answer.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have decided that I am only doing this blog. I do post a notice that I have published once each day on both facebook and twitter.
One of the reasons I haver lived in Rockport-Gloucester is to paint Bass rocks, one of the reasons I left is that I could no longer go there freely....................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...


The dark forces are in danger, at the present rate of increase every man woman and child in America will be a plein air painter in 7 years.

Maybe I'll be there to shake your hand
(Shake your hand)
Baby, I'll be there to share the land
(Share the land)
That they'll be givin' away
When we oughta live together
I'm talkin' bout together, now.

the Guess Who with Burton Cummings 1969


Stapleton Kearns said...

Although I can't pay my mortgage with a lesson.

Philip Koch said...

I used to have an old album of the Guess Who with that Share the Land song on it. It was a good song, still is.

willek said...

Bass Rocks has been a particular peeve. There are about 3 places along that stretch that you can get on there, and then you are constantly looking over your shoulder for someone to come and kick you off. owners have placed very objectionable spray painted and other signs on rocks, etc. I suppose they are worried about lawsuits and of course they do it because they can and they have to keep the rif-raff out.

A group of us has been painting on a 300 acre piece of farmland in Southborough, MA. The owners sold the conservations rights to a foundation and the family is in the process of giving another piece to the foundation. The public has rights to pass on the property now and it is extroadinarily beautiful. It is like a piece of Vermont in MetroWest. Broad meadows and rolling hills, woodlots and copses of trees,Big stately oaks here and there. Heifers and steers on each side of the road. A lilly pad pond in a pine grove. All stone-walled with grassy lanes and farm roads. Corn and squash crops, a lovely 18th century main house and other farm buildings.Views across valleys and over water courses. All painters are welcome here. There is going to be a celebration day on the Sept 27th and there will be an art display along with other events. Great place for kids, too
It is Chestnut Hill Farn at the junction of Chestnut Hill Rd and Rt 30 in Southborough. There is a nice little parking area on the right side of Chestnut Hill Rd. This is one great place you can go to, but no ocean.