Saturday, November 12, 2016

3-Day Workshop with Stapleton Kearns in CT

Day 1
This has to be the craziest thing I’ve done yet!  They even handed out blankets.  
I have sweaters, a winter jacket and a blanket on!
First off I have to say the the (Lyme Art Association) LAA and Jocelyn did a great job with the logistics of this workshop, I think the best run workshop I’ve attended.
The LAA arranged for us to paint on the Griswald Estate at Griswald Point, a property located in a private gated area on the seashore.  No facilities however, and Jocelyn from LAA came to drive people to the art association for bathroom breaks occasionally.  (One of the guys who was a contractor mentioned that renting a porta potty wouldn’t cost much.  Maybe Mrs. Griswald wouldn’t like that.  I met and talked with her on the second day we were there, she was raking pine needles, she seems very nice.)
Mrs. Griswald's home on Griswald Point

At Joslyn's home, her relative made the famous print, The Progression of Man
We met at the art association at 8:30, had coffee and donuts, and drove to the site.  We arrived there at 9 a.m.   The wind was blowing, the sun came in and out, mostly out.  Everyone froze that first day.  After we arrived, everyone followed Stapleton who was walking around–he was trying to decide where to paint.  I had brought my milk crate with me to put stuff into and keep things from falling over in the trunk of the car, but then I realized it would make a nice seat for myself while he’s doing the demo which was to last for 3 hours (each day).  Stapleton happened to have moving blankets in his car, and he handed them out and demonstrated until noon. It turned out that people stood right in front of me while I was sitting on the crate, so I ended up standing on the crate and that was really good because I could then see better than everyone.  
Stape's demo, first day.  The water in the middle-ground was only there the first day.
It was a beautiful scene of marshes and autumn trees.
The 3-hour demo, I'm on the crate, we are all freezing, you can see
the water on the marsh, beautiful sight.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching him dip into the paint, mix it, wipe his brush, etc.
How much paint to use, how much medium, etc.
Where to start and how he did his block-in.
At 11:45 Jocelyn from LAA came and brought coffee and hot delicious tea and was there to take sandwich lunch orders. The schedule will be the same each day, demo until noon, lunch, paint until 6.  I went to the car to have my croissant with my tea and got into the car without putting the heat on because that would spoil me rotten.  It’s hard to believe how cold everyone was standing around in the shade and in very high winds.  While waiting for lunch, I sat in the car, out of the wind for a few minutes, thinking my toes will thaw out, luckily I happened to bring gloves, well, I didn’t remember to bring them, they just happened to still be in my old favorite winter painting jacket I brought along and am wearing for the first time this year, it has a hood and I have a wool scarf.
After lunch, Stapleton came by to talk to me first thing at the beginning of the day before I even got started.  He spent about a minute and said he’d be back.  He did talk to the other people for quite a while.  He didn’t come by again to visit me since but I was pretty confident that he would spend as much time with each person as he thought they needed--didn't work out that way. 
At 5:20 p.m. we packed up and headed to the LAA for a 6 p.m. lecture and pizza. We did have wonderful pizza and wine and the current show there was really top shelf, and then Stapleton did a lecture with photos off his laptop and talked about the beginnings of landscape painting and the history of art.  I had to excuse myself and leave because I was falling asleep. (The combination of getting up early, driving there for 2.5 hours, freezing all day, and then having the heat on at LAA.)

At about 8:30 pm I arrived at the Airbnb, of course it was a pitch black, dark neighborhood.  I thankfully ran into the next door neighbor of the bnb person, he was looking out his window, and he was so kind to tell me the sneaky driveway was right next to this property, so I was able to find it that way.  The people were very nice and allowed my to go straight up to my room and take a shower.  I was suffering after having to excuse myself from the lecture because I was literally falling asleep due to the fact that it was a very long day--I didn’t have a lot of sleep and it was hot in the LAA compared to the fact that I was freezing all day long.  
Breakfast at the Airbnb, great!
Day 2
I got up (had showered the night before because I was afraid of ticks), and went down to a totally delightful breakfast of tea with honey and milk and an oatmeal assortment of every kind, tea was also an assortment of every kind, fresh bowl of strawberries, and a bottle of water which I really appreciated and I was off to the LAA.--What a gorgeous day it might be at 57 degrees at 9 a.m. even a light sweater was almost too warm. At noon time it was 68 degrees with partly cloudy conditions.  Stapleton finished the drawing block-in the first day and the first color block-in the second day.  I was able to observe how he mixes his colors and how he applies the paint. Jocelyn took our sandwich order and he started the third approach to his painting which is to go to a smaller brush, which would be a #1 or #2, and pretty much do the same kind of paint mixing and he began in one spot and worked his way around it, further refining it (a group of trees), not necessarily paying much attention to value but how he wanted the end result to look.  This I know because I asked. 

Demo, Day 2.  He worked on the previous day's block-in.  He decided he
didn't like so much foreground and started another.
End of Day 2's demo.
This is the second version, more of a closeup of the trees and less foreground.
Again, at the beginning of his rounds, he came by me and mentioned some design comments and then left.  Jocelyn forgot my tea and instead brought a coffee with milk and I find that I really like the flavor of coffee with milk rather than with cream.  The flavor is fresher and truer.  At the end of the day I was going to start on the next painting because I really didn’t know what else to do with the one I was working on, but walked around the property and beach instead and took photos.  We were getting ready to go to the group supper and so far Stapleton has spent a grand total of three minutes with me in 2 days time, and of course, I understand that he is so baffled by me that doesn’t know where to begin.  
My painting, end of day 2.
Here are some photos of others' work.

I headed for the car about 4:30, luckily put all my stuff away, refilled my turp, and then all of a sudden the sky opened up and it poured and a lot of people were stuck running to their cars with all their equipment and paintings.  
Can you tell that Barbara was a fun person to have on this trip?
The rain came pelting down 1 minute later.

The plan was to go to the Hideaway Restaurant for 6 p.m. but a few of us agreed to go early and have a wine at the bar.  The restaurant was great, the menu was fantastic and the prices were excellent as well. I had Ossobuco for dinner, the lecture was on Seago and we got out of there about 8:30-8:45. 
This area should be known as Osprey land because they are redeveloping the osprey in one particular place, and there are lots of nests all over and you can see them pretty much everywhere you go.  

Day 3 
Had another good night’s sleep and great breakfast.
We met again at 9 am again and the weather was supposed to be warmish and sunny but it was cold again and windy.  Most people wore special clothing they had  for winter activities, long johns, etc.  We arrived as usual, set up, he did the demo, and everybody was chit-chatting about every damn thing, it was somewhat entertaining actually, we were freezing all over again with a high wind and 45 degrees and we were in the shade and it was probably about 30 with the wind chill.  There were about 12 of us, and it truly was a really nice group, everyone got along well.  

At 11:30, I decided to hit the road and go home.  I had planned to paint in the sun; however, the couple of hours work I would get done wouldn’t be worth suffering in this cold, even though it would warm up a little bit, but not enough to make it worth my while.  Driving home in the day time I’ll beat the traffic, I’ll have sunlight instead of darkness, so for me the workshop is over.  I did enjoy his demos, watching him paint, watching him mix the paint, how much paint to apply, how many times he put his brush into the turp and the medium and how much paint he actually loaded onto the brush each time he put it on his canvas, wiping with every stroke.  Actually watching him on the third painting day demo was useful--I don’t know if I’ll ever have enough patience to do all that fine tuning that he did at the end, but anyhow that’s it!

Final report
There were long discussions during the demos (9 hours worth and 2 lectures) about various subjects, sometimes related to art.  There were a few pearls of wisdom here and there and facts about the science of paint, etc., that I didn’t know. Stapleton does a winter workshop at a hotel in Vermont when the weather is below freezing, so I guess this weather didn’t phase him much. 
Standing for three days in a row without moving around much leaves one without much spring in their step :) besides that, the drive home seemed half as long as the drive down, I got home in no time, stopped for lunch, a small place along the road that had scallop grinders: scallops, lettuce, tomato, tarter sauce on a french roll. 
This area of Connecticut was one of the most picture perfect, truly old fashioned, New England places I’ve seen.   

My stay at the bnb was excellent, I was in bed and sleeping every night at 9 p.m.  I recommend it to anyone visiting the area.  Victor showed me the new section he built in what was the attic, absolutely marvelous job, Victor did all the work himself, did a fabulous job, looks like a 4-star hotel, porcelain stand-alone tub, dramatic, gorgeous.  They have soft water, I’m used to hard water.  It was a pleasure to soap up with soft water and to drink it–you really notice the difference.  I was hoping I remembered everything and at the last moment I left my leftover food–my lunch--on the hall table, not a disaster.
I did mention to Jocelyn at LAA that I would give her the name of the bnb for future use by workshop participants, and she thought it would be a good idea.  
I had purchased  2 packages of 5 each 16x20" canvases for this workshop, thinking I would do one each morning and one each afternoon, but I only used one canvas and now have a lifetime supply of 16x20" canvases.  They were only $10 on sale for each package.  I hadn’t realized there would be a demo every morning.  
I got home at 2:30 p.m. (on Halloween) and when I got to the front door I realized I was home early and would therefor be here for the trick or treaters, so I drove to the store to buy candy, got the candy.  
I’m hoping to get my blog written, photos downloaded and edited tonight in-between the kids coming to the door. I also have to do another drawing of my wall project since I’ve lost the original one and need to get started in the week ahead. 

RGH is the paint company that makes paint in quantity and you put it in your own tubes.

Post Final Workshop Report
It took another week (sorry) to get the photos prepared and to actually post to the blog. :) 
Happy Painting Everyone!

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