Saturday, April 10, 2010


I am in Bozeman, Montana tonight, a whirlwind trip. My daughter and I are going to ski the last weekend Big Sky is open for the year. It is late and I have spent the whole day on airplanes. So I will be brief. But I AM here!

Above is a little piece of rock from below the light house at Owls Head Maine, near Rockland. I show it because it has great color and presents some real opportunity as a reference shot. But it also has a problem. No water! This is typical of the reference shots I have in my morgue ( an illustrators word for a photo and clippings collection, probably archaic).

I could use this to make a seascape by filling the foreground with surf. I would probably throw a rock or two in the foreground too. So I am going to have an assembled painting with several elements all mixed together. Those elements would be, the cliff above, the water, probably entirely invented, although I might have a breaking wave photo that would be of some but not much use, and that foreground rock. This is pretty typical, I would probably also do a sketch on location if I could.

This would be a great seascape setup, but it hardly gets any surf at all, being in the Penobscot bay and not exposed to the open ocean. But it is great material. That is one of the reasons why it is necessary to be able to mix and match to build your seascapes in the lab. I am routinely adding surf to pictures out of my head, either because there is no surf on that particular day or because the location doesn't really get much surf. If the rocks are good, they present an opportunity and I can fake the rest.
Gotta have sleep, more tomorrow.


Unknown said...

have fun skiing... don't break your painting arm!
Love the shadow patterns on that rock face -
(nice title) said...

Hey, I've got it..I think I've got it! Big to little. Design. Color and light. Invented skies. Lots of studies at the sea. I'll be able to do this in 30 years too. But Willek and I are going to give it a go on Wednesday in Maine with Mary. Thanks for giving a good start to the process.

Mary Byrom said...

Thanks Stapleton for your posting. No shortage of big rocks and big surf around here. Would you believe the difficulty is choosing which place to go? I'm out painting surf for the next few days - we have perfect weather for it, a stiff breeze with a front pulling out. Marian & Willek dress warmly, its cold on the water.

willek said...

Interesting reference picture, Stape. That outcrop looks out of place on the right. Seems like it should be on the left.

I have always thought that skiing paintings were an underdeveloped genre. All that scenery, snow, the slopes, the cuts of ski trails into the mountains, sky, arial perspective, graceful skiers and pretty girls. Churchill Ettinger was the only guy I know of that did skiing scenes. You ever paint any?
Bozeman... I've shot ducks 30 minutes from the airport.

Pat Walker-Fields said...

Hello Friend,
Starting a new workshop this week with Clayton Beck III and listened to a little of Earl Nightingale this morning. Have a great visit
with your daughter.

Still looking for that book..

billspaintingmn said...

I've heard sking is alot like surfing, I've tried both, and prefer a toboggan.
I was airborn on a toboggan once...
safer to take up painting!(I hope!)

Stapleton Kearns said...

I skied, still have arms.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wish I was up there too. I need to paint more surf this summer.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Save a spot on that shore for me. I will get there. I have to stop traveling for a while.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I did about 2 skiing paintings. They seemed cheesy to me and I stopped. Have you ever shot a possum?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I hope the Clayton Beck workshop goes well for you. It must be summer there.Could any two places be more different, Montana and Mississippi?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Toboggans are uncontrollable;e, safer to raise tropical fish.

Marian Fortunati said...

I always enjoy reading your wonderful thoughts and learn from them. Would love to see this photo (sometime much later, of course) with the invented painting you made using the rock face as a reference.

Hope you had a ball!