Friday, April 5, 2013

Stape's Practical Painting Blog

For all I know, there must be a mega-gazillion art blogs lurking out there on the Internet. I trip across some when I'm trolling for images to post here. But for better or worse, I usually don't bother following them.

Once in a while I do spot a blog I find really interesting or otherwise useful, and when I do, I add it to the Links list over in the right column. Such is the case for Stapleton Kearns' blog which has been around for about four years in its present form. Kearns is a full-time painter specializing in landscapes that are solidly crafted and worthy of your attention. Here is detailed biographical information on Kearns.

Kearns' blog deals largely with practical information and advice about painting, probably an outgrowth of his experience teaching at workshops. His post tally is now more than one thousand, the bulk appearing 2009-11. I think it's worthwhile to sift through the earlier posts because they deal most thoroughly with issues than matter most to him.

To give you a taste, here is a post from 2009 dealing with art education.

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I am aware that the situation is improving and there are a few places that do produce better trained young painters. I also know there are some fine teachers out there who do lead their young charges through a fine course of instruction. Now I know that over in the graphics department students learn useful skills. But I feel these fine instructers are still very much the exception, if you take a walk through the studios of most art schools, colleges and Universities the work is appalling. Most of the art schools out there are foisting a deceit on their pupils. By making their students believe that all they need to know is already within them, if they just have the self awareness to find it, the student is taught, its all about them. That, for many young scholars today is an attractive idea, they do like being told how special and individual they are. In many art schools today the teachers will tell a student that there is no way to even teach art, and they will be contaminated by studying works by another artist with the end of improving their own. The contemporary art school changes the educational event from really wicked difficult, to one of self admiring introspection that any student can do. Now they can fill those classrooms! The art schools of America graduate more students in a year than there have been artists in the history of our nation. If the hairdressing schools of America produced as few hairdressers they would be shut down for robbing their students. It can be argued that art is subjective and shouldnt be measured for its results the same way as say, engineering, but isnt hairstyling kind of subjective as well?

Often enough in the fine arts department the students are coddled for four or more years, and then released into the real world where the are served a harsh awakening that it's not just about them out there. I have often seen young would be artists confronted with this reality go back for a masters degree, to get more of the training that didn't make artists out of them in the first place. If you really unpack this with them, you find out they intend to teach. The best of them will, and the best of their students will be teachers as well . There are plenty of teachers out there who have never made a living as artists and their teachers and their teachers' teachers didn't either. They have in fact only contempt for those of us out here who actually do it as a vocation. The sudden rise of popularity of the new ateliers across the country and in Italy is a response to a small but growing number of students who would like to make a living painting and have figured out they will need to know a lot about painting in order to do it. I believe that small but growing atelier movement probably holds the promise of a new American art.

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I notice that Kearns has cut back on posting frequency, but you might consider checking for new material from time to time once you've digested those first 400 or so posts that contain the most meat.

1 comment:

Stephanie Berry said...

I'm one of many followers of Stape and consider his blog a great source for those of us who are largely self-taught. I wish he would show more of his artwork-he's an excellent painter and an entertaining writer.