Tuesday, February 26, 2013

James Gurney show!

Here are James Gurney and I at the opening of his show in Manchester, New Hampshire. The strong down lighting of the gallery made us both look like we had no hair, so I have corrected the image to  preserve ( and enhance) my own self respect, and having done so, I couldn't leave James looking any less hirsute.

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney
 New Hampshire Institute of Art  from Wednesday, Feb. 20 through Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013.
77 Amherst St. in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Monday - Wednesday, Friday 9 am - 5 pm Thursday 9 am - 7 pm, Saturday 12 pm - 4 pm

The Norman Rockwell Museum is sponsoring a show of the jaw dropping illustrations for his Dinotopia books and it's a great One. Those of you who read this blog know that I care mostly about what a painting actually looks like. I have little interest in fantasy art, and I hate dinosaurs, (what with all of that biting and other unpleasantness). But I love James's work for its beauty and  worksmanship. I am an awestruck admirer of his drawing ability. James can draw as well as anyone alive, I think. He is able to put together pictorial compositions that are as ambitious and well realized as the salon painters of the 19th century. Only a few folks walking around today can do that.

 The pictures I am posting by James are actually in the Manchester show. They are the best known and some of the largest tours de force of his long career. James grew up in California, and after a brief stint doing background art for Hollywood, moved out into the illustration world. His book "Color and Light" has been the best selling painting book in America for 120 weeks now. Get your signed copy here.

I was introduced to James Gurney by Tom Kinkaid in the late eighties at a party in Connecticut. I had met Kinkaid at Art Expo in New York when he was just beginning his career. We got to talking about 19th century painting, which at that time was "secret" knowledge, there were virtually no books on the subject then, and no internet. Finding we had similar interests, we arranged to meet at the Metropolitan Museum the next morning. At lunch, Kinkaid leaned across the table at me and told me he was going to make a MILLION dollars! He laid  out the plan and I remember thinking, well, he probably will. He invited me to join him at a party up in Connecticut. The party was all young New York illustrators. The illustration market was rapidly collapsing around them, as magazines and book publishers began to use only photography. These young illustrators had all been doing book covers for bodice-ripper novels and magazine work. That world was ending and they were all scrambling to reinvent themselves. I was the only fine arts guy there, having been included by happenstance.

Several people did presentations of their art. I was in New York to retrieve a painting from the biannual exhibition at the National Academy of design and I had my exhibition piece with me (below).

I  showed some slides of my outdoor paintings. James remarked that I was a plein air painter. I knew the expression from books, but had never heard anyone actually use it. In those days we just painted "outside".

James had one of the very first of his illustrations for Dinotopia with him that night.  I don't think the particular illustration he showed us had yet been tethered to the Dinotopia idea which had yet to emerge. Over the intervening years we chatted a few times on the phone. When I began this blog I was inspired by James long running blog Gurney Journey. Over the last few years we have chatted more than a few times about art technique, comparing notes and philosophies. James did me the enormous honor of making me the only living artist quoted in his book, Color and Light. But we had never actually stood face to face in about 24 years. I approached him at the opening and we posed briefly in front of his magnificent picture before he was swept away for a photography line up. I heard him lecture later that night.

I never saw or heard from Kinkaid again. A funny thing happened next though. When I was spending the day with Kinkaid he asked me if I would introduce him to John Terelac, a friend of mine in Rockport, whose painting technique Kinkaid had emulated in his own art. I told Thom that Terelac was a very private guy and I couldn't do that. I could introduce him to lots of New England painters, but Terelac wasn't on that list. A few days later when I had returned home I was in my studio and the phone rang. It was John Terelac telling me " I have a friend of yours here!". I said "who?" and John told me "Thomas Kinkaid" in a perturbed voice. I told John that I had not been willing to introduce Kinkaid to him. John said "I thought so!" and hung up the phone. I don't know what happened next, but John was a former high school football star and had moonlighted as a bouncer early in his career. I suspect Thoms' exit was swift and ignoble.

It has been repeatedly pointed out to me that my punctuation is dreadful. I am sorry, sometimes I can get an editor to help me, othertimes they are disgusted by me. I dropped out of high school and  missed too many English classes. Please forgive my punctuation, someday I will figure that out too!
I have several workshops in the offing. For instance there is;
This workshop will take place March 9 through the 11th near between St. Paul and Stillwater. When last I taught in Minnesota several in my class asked if I would do a Minnesota snowcamp, so here it is. I have made it as late in the year as is possible to get a little milder weather and I hope there is still snow. I think there will be, but if there isn't, I will still hold the workshop but I will call it Stickcamp.
This will be a transplanted version of the yearly Snowcamp I do in New Hampshires' White Mountains. I will teach the methods of painting snow including color vibration and the planar structure in snow and the landscape itself. I intend to emphasize the idea of form in the landscape rather than a purely visual approach. I will show how to express the convex outward bulging forms that express the structural "bones" of the landscape. I think this gets ignored by some plein air painters today and taught less than it ought be. I will also show you how I build the color structure of the snow using color laid over color to assemble the structure of the snow.
There is no need to stay an any particular lodging to attend the workshop and it will be an easy commute out from Minneapolis or St. Paul. The price of the three day workshop will be three hundred dollars. As per usual with my workshops I run a twelve to thirteen hour day and try to cram as much into the three days we have as possible. I make workshops as intense as I possibly can. We will meet for breakfast and then move to the painting site and work until dusk. Then we will meet for dinner and I haul out my computer and lecture on design and other aspects of landscape painting while we await our meal. If you live in, or can visit the area I hope you will come. To sign up, click here!
I will also be teaching in Lafayette, Louisiana from March 22nd to the 24th . You can contact Maria Randolph to sign up or get more information.
 Here is the information copied from their website;

  Stapleton Kearns Plein Air Workshop – Mar 22-24

Makes no difference what kind of painting media you prefer. If you have ever been interested in plein air (in the open air) painting, please don’t miss this unique opportunity to take a plein air workshop in style with all the amenities of home—and dinner—and most importantly, with a fantastic internationally renowned artist and teacher. Sign up today!



With Renowned Landscape Artist


MARCH 22-24, 2013

This Lafayette Art Association sponsored ‘outdoors’ plein air workshop will feature the talented teaching professional from New Hampshire, Stapleton Kearns.

Stapleton is a professional landscape painter who will fill your workshop experience with valuable techniques, ideas, and methods based on a classical impressionist approach.

This excellent workshop is open to all media areas, not just oil painting, because primary plein air painting rules concerning colors, value, lighting, etc., are essentially the same. This is not only an oil painter’s plein air workshop, although that is Stapleton’s chosen media, and all media painters are welcome to learn and enjoy!

The 3-day workshop will be conducted on privately-owned land in Cankton, LA which is approximately a 20 minute drive from downtown Lafayette. There is a cabin on the property with bathroom and kitchen facilities.

So don’t tarry and let this opportunity slip away, There are only a few seats still open so call now and register to get your name on this select list!

Click for more info… Contact the Lafayette Art Association, Lafayette, LA at 337-269-0363 


Robert J. Simone said...

I've read Gurney's book, "Color and Light". It's a great book which covers a lot of territory. Don' let the dinosaurs deter you from purchasing it.

Stape, your punctuation is awful, but I thought you were doing it on purpose. Thought it was "blog style". Silly me.

Pat Jeffers, Artist said...

I don't care how you write; it's your thoughts that count. And your thoughts are powerful indeed. I look forward to each and every post. Thank you.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Simone. Stape, I remember that party at Paul Chadwick's house where I first met you. My recollection was that you came in with a wet oil painting that you had done outdoors that morning. All of us were mightily impressed because we were sitting around talking about painting, but you were DOING it.

Brady said...

You're authentic, Stape! I'd rather read something that tells it like it is than hot air all dolled up.

I too am not a fan of dinosaurs, but I have to admit I love some good fantasy and science fiction. I keep a computer folder of James Gurney's paintings, but none of it is Dinotopia stuff. I own both of his recent art instruction books, and refer to them often.

By the way, you both look splendid in the new dos!

Mark Heng said...

The meeting of the minds! Very cool story...and I'd love to hear your opinion of the late Thomas Kinkade's paintings!

Steve said...


As someone fortunate enough to do workshops with both you and James Gurney, I loved reading this post. Was particularly pleased to see adequate hirsuteness happening all around...although, when I saw you in September of 2010 that was less than a non-issue. Perhaps hair, like design in landscape, can't be observed but must be installed.

Anonymous said...

India Tours and Travels- Are you looking for

holiday in India? Go Holiday India best offers holidays to India, India holidays,india Tour

Packages and famous Tour and Travel Delhi, Agra, Jaipur,Rajasthan.

armandcabrera said...

Stapleton ,

What a delightful essay. Kinkade does have some similarities with Terelak in style and handling; thanks for the informative post.