Friday, December 31, 2010

Constable 6

John Constable grew up on the stretch of river in the map above at the end of the 18th century. His father owned the large Flatford mill. He had a happy, even idyllic childhood playing along the banks of the river Stour. Below is a picture of the mill.

And here is a painting of the river and mill.

I think the reason that Constable painted as he did was because he was both extremely familiar with this landscape and he loved it. For Claude Loraine or Salvatore Rosa the landscape was a construct, something they invented from their imaginations.

Constable made innumerable studies of these locations and knew every inch of them intimately. He was sensitive to how they looked and how they made him feel. His art was based on experience of the place and not a constructed stage set from his imagination. Constable wanted to "get at" the real place and needed its actual appearance to do it. That drove him to study carefully how it looked, in the light and then to learn to depict that light.

Here is the house pictured in the Haywain, below.

The location of the painting can be found on the map above, look for Willy Lott's house. Each of the dots on that map locate the source of a major Constable painting. All are along perhaps a mile of river. This area is incidentally still unchanged and easily accessible. I have never been there, but I want to go and paint it before the death bunny arrives.


CANDY said...

Nothing worse than a bunny in a Grim Reaper suit. Yes, I would love to visit this area also someday. Always wanted to visit and tour England. Might still have relatives there... Love your Constable series!

JonInFrance said...

Yeah - looks like a lovely place and sounds like a sincere motivation - it keeps coming into my mind that sincerity/honesty is an essential quality of truly good art....

bvpainter said...

Have visited this site many times. It is still very beautiful and is well maintained by the National Trust. The large buildings are now used as crafts centre, so you can actually go to painting classes and paint from the same positions as Constable painted from.

There are many other locations in the same area which have only changed slightly from when Constable painted, and only recently it was worked out as to where one of his most famous compositions was actually painted from. said...

Paint what you love. Have a Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year and may the bunny rabbit of death hop over your head another year.Last time he was by he got my black watch out.

Lyn A said...

First, I want to move into Willy Lott's house asap. Curious that there are so few windows with a view of the river though...

Second, I hope dust bunnies aren't related to that death bunny of yours, because I've got more than my share of those to chase around here.

Third, I've really been loving these posts about Constable. I truly believe that a deep understanding of your subject matter is what gives a great painting the "edge" over a good one.
Happy New Year!

willek said...

Hey, Stape, when you're ready Paint in England, call me, I'll go... But, I think it'll take a month or two... unless we do 5x7s

Tim said...

Hey Stape,I went there last summer with my dad, did the quick one hour tour that is available, they take you around the mill and all, and point out a few other nice little tidbits. I did not have time to paint there. Thomas Gainsborough's house is quite close-by too.

billspaintingmn said...

These Constable series are a great way to end the year!
I again want to thank you for the generous commitment of information.
I am swamped with learning!
Sadly, the "death bunny" took my wife this year. It grieves me deeply. We had been together since 1972. Renee had battled cancer for over six years. She is now a peace. I miss her.

Philip Koch said...

Stape- wonderful series. And yes, Constable has the most sincere attachment to this place. That comes through loud and clear.

Billspaintingmn- you have had a sad and tough year this year. I hope alongside of that next year brings you some happiness.

Brady said...

Thanks, Stape, for going over the difference in handling of trees in the last post.

I'm glad they are preserving this area of Constable's. Out west where I live it's all too often that the inspiration for a great landscape from the past is now covered in houses and apartment buildings.

But I'm greatfull for the national parks which preserve the more obviously picturesque areas.

Happy New Year!

Casey Klahn said...

Challenging thoughts on Constable. I will be back to read this series all through.

BTW, I gave you an award at my blog.


Deborah Paris said...

There is a great story about Constable riding back to London in a coach with a gentleman who did not know him. His fellow traveler explained that this was "Constable country" and of course that description is still used today.

Happy New Year Stape!

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

It is the ace... Really caring about what you paint.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I need to go there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am setting traps for him tonight.Cruel leghold traps.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Lyn A

Stapleton Kearns said...

5 by 7s are for cowards.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Tim; Thanks for the images I will use one or two. Gainsborough lived under that big sign?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am in the process of losing both my parents, I sympathies with you. We the living must do our best to deserve their legacy.Have you read William Cullen Bryants Thanotopsis. I may need to do a post on that.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Happy New Year! and thanks for a ll the moral support you have provided in the last one!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Happy New Year!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hey, thanks. I am grateful!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Happy New Year! See you in Texas this spring!