Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another variation on a gray painting

Here again is the shot of the barn from yesterday in all its leaden splendor. Another tactic I use on these paintings which prove too gray is to turn them into twilight or tonalist sunset pictures.

This is generally something I do in the studio when the picture has dried for at least a couple of days. That's important for a couple of reasons . One, I want to have some perspective on what the pictures problems really are, if I did it too soon I might radically change a piece without really deciding if just a little tweak might make it OK. Two, I want the piece to be absolutely dry, so that if I do mess up, I can wipe back to my original painting with a rag dipped in thinner. If the painting is at all wet that is not possible. It also helps that I work with an alkyd medium ( more about those here ) because when my paintings dry, the mineral spirits won't lift the paint if I wipe it back, at least not very much.

Here is the same scene reworked as a tonalist sunset. I have said before that when I work in photoshop I feel like I am working in Gummi worms. But you see what I mean anyway. I am showing you these not because you will want to do exactly this to a gray day painting (get your own shtick!) but because I want you to get the idea that even paintings with a problem will sometimes yield to some creative alterations. If the painting is too gray or whatever, you might as well fool around with it, what have you got to lose. You might get lucky, and end up with something really nice.

There are still a few places left in the second workshop. Here is a view of the Inn where we will be doing it. If you still want to go you can sign up here.


Gregory Becker said...

That's an interesting coincidence I just did this to one of my paintings.

barbara b. land of boz said...

Stapleton, I am so thankful for your blog. Sometimes the right brainer needs a gentle nudge in the (it's ok to change color in a painting) department. By the way when the book is published, tell em' your gonna need a lot of copies.
barbara b.

James Gunter said...

Stape, I follow this blog every day, and am reading through all of the archive posts for the second time. I expect I'll read through them a third time (some I already have) and probably more. It's great to be able to read your entries, go out and paint, read the entries again, and go out and paint again. Doing that over and over is beginning to show progress. I sure wish I could take your snow painting workshop. I think some eastern influence in my western paintings would be good for it. If you ever get the opportunity to teach a workshop out West, in any season, by all means please do! Maybe you could combine a skiing trip AND teach a snow painting workshop in the Wasatch Mountains!

billspaintingmn said...

Jim G. said it.
I too am excited to find your posts.
It's so helpful to get sound advice, after years of dissapointng
I have had successful workshops,(in portrait/figurative) but "knowing" and doing are too different things.
Paint, paint, paint, then paint some more.
Each time I paint, a gain a better understanding of what needs
to be done.
Sometimes I think I understand, but don't.
So it's very helpful to have you
What colors are in that sky?
Is it naples yellow, cad red & the clouds a bit of white/cobalt blue?

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I can think of nowhere I would rather teach than in little Cottonwood Canyon!
You know we honeymooned there. My poor wife looked at me and asked "whats in Utah?" when I told her where we were going. Boy did she find out.
Do you have a local art association in which you are active?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I could have painted it with those colors but it is digital .

Philip Koch said...

I completely agree with Stapleton's idea that one has to be ready to depart from what one sees in the source one is observing. Obviously the best of the source you want to be extremely faithful to (otherwise why would you have chosen it in the first place?). Inevitably though there will be passages that just aren't visually that interesting, or perhaps everything is too interesting and competes with everything else.

Know when to be accurate and faithful, know when to edit. and know when you need to tell some little lies in service of a greater truth.