Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A few questions answered and a farewell

Its almost time for SNOW! I am so excited, snow is absolutely my favorite thing to paint. I would much rather paint outside in January than June! One of the ideas I am kicking around is a winter workshop, up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Any interest in a three day workshop on snow painting? Let me know.
I am going to post some of the next years workshop schedule soon. I have a number of them over the first half of the year, spread out across half the country it seems like.

I could have called this another ask Stape but I thought I would spare you the image of me as Ann Landers. But I am going to answer a few questions that came in briefly. Here is one

Hey Stape, when I buy paint in a can, there's always a skin that forms on the paint - even with the can tightly lidded. Any tips on avoiding this? I end up throwing a lot of paint out when removing that skin.

The answer to that problem is twofold. The best way to avoid that is to tube the entire can the day you open it. Problem solved. Heres how. However if you don't want to do that, after you have removed what you want from the can, level the surface with your palette knife. Then cut a piece of saran wrap about the size of a handkerchief and smooth it out onto the surface of the paint left in the can. That should keep it from forming a skin.

A former pharmacist and soda jerk, turned plumage hunter asked;

I just have this feeling that modern chemistry is being under rated in this area and perhaps, we are missing something by insisting on the natural pigments.

The "earth colors" we use today are no longer naturally occurring earths dug from the groundd. They are actually, like mars colors, laboratory made oxides of iron. They are far superior to the ochers and siennas of our granddads time.Some lines of paint, like Sennelier still use natural earth colors and they seem very dirty to those of us who are used to the modern substitutes.You might like them though, but be forewarned, buy a small tube first rather than a 200 ml. tube that you might not use, like me.

Another retired pharmacist and former MOXIE eschewing soda jerk asked;

What do these companies mean when they describe their colors as "transparent"? I have tried some of these and they are pretty concentrated pigments. I would assume that they can be seen through. What is the difference between Transparent Gold Ocher and Gold Ocher? How is a "Transparent pigment supposed to be/mean to be used? As glazes? For a certain style of painting? Weak tints? What is going on here?

Transparent means you can see through it of course. It is possible for a transparent color to have great pigmenting strength though sometimes they are dyes mixed into the oil, like alizirin crimson.So transparent and weakly tinted don't necessarily go together and some really powerful colors can be transparent. These dyes mixed into the oil are called lakes and they tend to be a nuisance,as they handle poorly and may dry more slowly than conventional pigments and may be prone to cause cracking and poor paint films.This is one of the reasons that I recommend you switch to permanent alizirin rather than true alizirin. It is actually quinacridone and is stable and no longer causes the problems the old alizirin did. It is also less blacky and of a more roseate hue.Some colors are dyes that thave been percipitated onto chalk to give them some body and make them opaque.The metallic pigments like the cadmiums tend to be good examples of opaque colors. White is opaque, although that is relative, titanium is very opaque and flake and zinc are more transparent. When you add white to a mix you generally make it opaque. That means as you use it it will be called a scumble rather than a glaze. Painters who work over drawings and underpainted foundations tend to like transparent formulations for that work. In my own work, if given a choice between transparent gold ocher and the regular I go with the opaque. I like it a lot better, however I work straight paint and not in glazes over fixed grounds.

I attended a memorial service in Rockport last week for a remarkable woman who I knew there. Ann Fisk. She was a former director of the Rockport art association and it was Ann who was the director when I served there part time as a janitor in 1983. I have written about that era ain this blog in my chronological history. Here are some excerpted parts of her epitaph.
Anne did a lot for the community of Rockport through her long political involvement on a number of causes. Her contributions to the art colony are largely from her selfless organizing and leadership. She was one of the last of that generation who were the Rockport art colony when I arrived there in the early eighties. She handed me the first dollar I earned upon my arrival there. Thanks Ann.

Ann Lindenmuth Fisk of Rockport, Massachusetts, died peacefully at home on Thursday, October 8, 2009 after a battle with multiple myeloma.

The daughter and granddaughter of artists, Ann showed an early talent for art and received lessons from her mother, E.B. (Elisabeth Boardman) Warren and her father, Tod Lindenmuth, himself a pupil of Robert Henri. She continued to paint throughout her life, primarily creating watercolors, pen-and-ink drawings, and pictures combining the two media. She also did oil paintings, block prints, and relief carvings. Many of her paintings depict villages or individual buildings, often with whimsical ornamentation. Occasionally her compositions included landscapes, waterfront scenes, and still lifes.

Like her parents, she was a lifelong member of the Rockport Art Association. An expert in the earlier generations of artists of Cape Ann, some of whom she recalled from childhood, she became a collector and dealer in the works of many of them.
She was instrumental as well in helping restore and augment the town's museum collection of paintings by Rockport artists.

Ann Warren Lindenmuth was born in Newton, Massachusetts on September 12, 1929. Her parents lived and operated a gallery in St. Augustine, Florida during the winters, and she graduated from Ketterlinus High School there in 1947. The family summered in Provincetown until 1940, when her father decided Provincetown had become too touristy and decided to try Rockport instead. They found a small fishing shack on Bearskin Neck and set up a gallery in the front room and rustic living quarters above.

One summer evening during a band concert on Back Beach, she was introduced to Charles Fisk of Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose family also summered in Rockport. "That's the man I'm going to marry," she recalled thinking. The couple did marry, on July 2, 1950, and moved to Palo Alto, California, where Charles was planning to pursue a graduate degree in nuclear physics at Stanford University. Ann, having completed three years of college at Florida State University, transferred to Stanford and received her B.A. in Design there in 1951.

A few weeks into the graduate course, Charles decided physics was not for him and changed to taking courses in music. He also began working informally for the local firm that maintained the pipe organs at the university. The couple later moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where both worked for the Holtkamp Organ Company, and then to North Andover, Massachusetts when Charles bought into a partnership in the Andover Organ Company. In 1961, the Fisks, now a family of four, moved back to Rockport and Charles founded C.B. Fisk, Inc., which he eventually built into one of the leading pipe organ firms in the world. The couple divorced in 1977 and Charles died in 1983. Ann remained in Rockport until her death, residing in the home in Pigeon Cove that she and Charles had designed.


willek said...

Thanks, Stape. All very helpful and informative. said...

Good Morning. Sorry for the loss of a such wonderful woman to the arts.

I, like Stapleton, prefer opaque color pigments when I have a choice. However, there have been occasions when I have the right value in opaque but a need a subtle color or tint change. By adding a transparent paint, I can get the adjustment I want without re-adjusting for value. The transparencies add color only in the cases that I use it.

Philip Koch said...

Great snow photo- it is putting me in the mood for winter. Completely agree with you about painting snow- it gives fantastic tonal possibilities (or value possibilities if one prefers) that just aren't there in June.

I've taken to doing much of my own paintings from tonally light vine charcoal drawings I do outside. They have the look of a snow covered landscape to them with lots of pure white passages and my eye gets turned on by that.

Stape of course is luckier than I as he gets to live in New Hampshire, the way the art gods intended us to live. I am forced to dwell in the swamps of Baltimore, where most of winter is just cold drizzling rain. Guess I'm paying for the sins of one of my former lives.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, I appreciate you all giving me good questions.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I suggest that you use a Prussian from one of the manufacturers that rate it as permanent. Or user pthalo which is MODERN and is permanent

Stapleton Kearns said...

That works, using them as a glaze over a directly painted piece.Be careful not to thin them out too much, maybr not at all.

Stapleton Kearns said...


I AM looking forward to the snow, and it may start this weekend.
I hired a service in a former life that for a mere thirty drachmas assured me that a professor of art in Baltimore would pay for the dreadful things I had done, instead of me.

JAMES A. COOK said...

I am looking forward to a 3 day winter workshop. I am off my 3 color pallet and do much better. I have been studing HIBBARDS snow paintings alot, and reproducing them . I am ready for winter snow painting.

Unknown said...

Wow Stapleton what a post! This is a fantastic pull quote: "You can't buy a tube of better art." I'm going to print this study out. I must admit, I don't know my colors. Thanks for the teaching.