Friday, November 13, 2009

Being who you is.............

The Dion quints, all with unfortunate "post" like lower limbs.

Today was a long one. I spent the day at the Boston International Fine Art Show at the Cyclorama. It is sort of an art trade show and there are thousands of paintings to see , and many of them are very good. Tonight was the gala 250 dollar a ticket benefit for the Handel and Hayden society. There were many elegant people there , I wore a sports coat and tassel loafers but wasn't really competitive. Tomorrow the doors open to the public to come in and see all of the art. There are some wonderful things there. Varieka Gallery from Newport Rhode Island has brought enormous William Trost Richards seascapes, they are about eight feet long I guess. They are so bright and high key. Its surprising to see paintings from that era in that high a key.I expect that sort of key from an impressionist painting but not one from the luminist generation. There was also a good Waugh, speaking of seascapes.

The editors of the art magazines are coming, I talked to Joshua Rose of the American Art collector magazine tonight, I was on a panel he moderated a few years ago and I always enjoy seeing him. Peter Trippi of the Fine Arts Connoisseur is speaking this weekend too.

The Vose gallery is there with a very nice Hibbard I haven't seen before. It is of Jefforsonville, Vermont, they said. The next time I am up there I will try to figure out where he set up. Another dealer has a very nice Emile Gruppe also from the Jefforsonville area of some trees and a glimpse of the Lemoille river beyond.

There is a a gallery that does nothing except French Barbizon school painting that I like a lot. Near that is a nice Frank Benson watercolor, the price is more than I paid for my house though.There are plenty of good 19th century academic paintings, both American and European.

The galleries showing living artists are there too. Arcadia from New York has nice things , I liked a Joseph Todorovich of a shop girl in a pretty dress a lot. They have Malcolm Liepke too. Argosy gallery from Bar Harbor is there showing my friends Scott Moore and T.M. Nicholas. Quidley Gallery from Newbury street is there with a real nice Sergio Roffo. Trees place from Orleans, Massachusetts is there with a great Joe McGurl. Over at the Guild of Boston Artists I am showing a 30 by 40 blue nocturne picture in a big art deco influenced gold frame. It is one of the odder things in the show, and I think it will get some notice.

Winston Churchill once remarked on a fellow who he said "bore perfectly the imprint of whoever sat on him last". When I walk around and look at all the wonderful paintings in a show like this, I get so excited, I stand in front of one and say, "Oh that's so, I could do that!" Then I stand in front of a real tight academic piece and think : that's what I want to do!" A minute later I am standing before a loose Rockport school impressionist piece and I think "Oh! no, that's what I want to do!" It only lasts for about as long as I stand in front of the particular painting and is really an expression of my excitement over the art. When I see a painting I like, I start thinking about how it was made and then I am imagining making it. When I get home I am perfectly happy to be me, and make my own art though. I often leave a show like that with a general sort of observation like "remember how much of that painting was in a high key? or remember how simple those trees in the Gruppe were. Basic stuff. Those are learning things not imitative things, and that's important.

When I named all of those artists above, if you knew art history well, you would know what their work looked like. I don't read the tags bedside the paintings generally, I don't have to. I know who the painters are by looking at them from across the room. All of those fine painters had their own voice. They made things that looked as if they could have been made by their hand alone. That's important for you too.
As you learn to paint as a student, it is important for you to imitate your teachers and natural that your work will resemble theirs. That's part of learning. The next stage generally is one of imitation of some historic figure, you fall in love with Rembrandt or Raphael and try to paint like them. But the adult stage of a painter is when you paint like yourself. Even though there are books open in your studio to paintings that love, and you are thinking about how well so-and-so handled a particular kind of passage, what you are making looks like something only you would have made. It is personal. I don't know for sure if you can really get there by intention . But if you avoid copying another artist and you make lots of partings I think a personal way of doing things appears. You do want to make sure that you know as much about your craft as you can. That's important because you want your style to be based on the abilities you have developed rather than having it formed by that which you have left unlearned.

I will return to winter equipment and painting soon, I promise. And then I am going to do more art history for a while.


Philip Koch said...

Wonderful post. As you say, it is a long journey for an artist to arrive where they have their own authentic vision to share. I too started imitating my teachers and then moved on to imitating some long-dead artists, with various extraneous other influences thrown in for spice along the way.

Was talking with the graduate student who helps me teach my Life Drawing class yesterday in her studio.
She's painting while next door she has fellow students doing video and animation, To be honest, I felt glad we didn't have so many choices of media back when I was starting out.

Connie said...

An excellent post and so well said. I have similar talks with myself regularly. I do think it is like handwriting...if you paint enough your style will develop without your being conscious of it.
Thanks so much for such an outstanding blog. I have learned, and laughed.

Manatee Writers said...

This is a great post, I have been doing some experimenting with other styles and not altogether comfortable, in time I hope they will be incorporated into what will become my style. I don't want to quit experimenting.

billspaintingmn said...

Bravo! This post is great!
I admire your wit and passion for
Thank you Stapleton Kearns.

Deborah Paris said...

Great post, Stape. I think many teachers do students a disservice by making it seem that personal style is something that comes naturally and inevitably. Its hard won for most of us and a long time in coming. After you've painted a long while and studied a lot of art history, you have the skill and knowledge to paint in any number of different ways. It becomes a matter of what you choose to do, what you love and how you want your paintings to look.

So, when do we get to see this big blue nocturne of yours.....?

Woodward Simons said...

Stape, if you get over by Argosy again, say hi to Amy Sidman for me. It's always good to talk to her when I'm up in Bar Harbor.

Hope you sell that big painting! said...

Well said and important to say, Stapleton. It still amazes me how many artists get stuck in the "imitate teacher" stage and think that they have become professional and proficient painters.

My landscape work looks imitative to me as I am trying to find my way in that genre but at least I am aware of it. I keep pushing to have lots of big failures (which I throw out, of course)

Gregory Becker said...

That sounds like so much fun.

Todd Bonita said...

I hope to see you there tomorrow...looking forward to being a kid in a candy store.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There were lots of other choices when we were young too.....All of them easier than painting and most people took them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Anything you are doing that is new always feels uncomfortable including improving.

Stapleton Kearns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have a shot of it in the camera and will try to post it soon if it doesn't need a lot of photoshop work.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Woodward Simons;
I will do that., I saw her tonight.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Landscape is relatively new to you but you have an established style in your still life.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am going to post a few pictures tonight.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will look forward to seeing you there.