Monday, October 24, 2011

Change and the Stobart Palette

I believe it is a good idea to shake things up every now and then. Unfortunately what I believe and what I practice are sometimes two different things. What I should say is that I think change is a good idea but I rarely, if ever, practice it! I am what you would call a “set in my way” kind of guy. I think it is a family gene or maybe just a “German thing”? I am way too regimented and I’ve tried to figure it out and break away from it but this old dog isn’t usually interested in any new tricks.

The great English painter John Stobart has been a hero of mine ever since Mr. Stevenson introduced me to his work way back when I first began to study in the mid 70’s. Much to my delight Stobart self-financed and produced a series of programs that were broadcast on PBS in the early 90’s. Entitled “John Stobart’s Worldscape”, the series followed him around the world, usually in the company of a guest artist, painting on site wherever they ended up. What a treat and a gift it was for me to be able to learn directly from the man himself how he produces a painting from start to finish.

Stobart’s palette consists of only five colors and white. For the artists out there the palette is as follows; Windsor Red, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Green. He uses a titanium white. His style of brush is a bright of which he only uses one size which is about ¾” wide.

Now, as Stobart has long been my idol, my palette is not much different than his. In fact, the core of my palette is his palette with some additions I have made over the years…a different red, a pair of extra yellows and a different green, etc.

Recently I again watched every episode (as if I had never seen them before!) and immediately started thinking about how his palette makes so much sense…three primaries and a pair of convenience colors…nice, simple and direct. Following is one of Stobart’s magnificent harbor paintings for which he is justifiably famous. As you can see…quite a bit can be accomplished with only five colors!

I decided, as a kind of tribute to my hero, that I would spend some time using only his palette and his style of brush. As mentioned above, I don’t much care for change, and to suddenly be standing out in the field without my usual palette, to which I have grown very accustomed and fond, was a bit off-putting. Imagine a piano player suddenly confronted with a keyboard with no black keys. Why did I think this was a good idea!?

In the end I found that I had to get back to thinking about how color works instead of simply relying on old dogmas I had come to rely on over the years. I think the simpler palette had the virtue of giving the paintings an overall color harmony that had been missing of late. While I did not care for painting with the brights, I think I might just stay with the palette for a while. If it’s good enough for Stobart it is good enough for me!

Fall Crocuses11 X 14 oil on canvas. Click the link to view purchasing details.

Beaver Dam Fall 11 X 14 oil on canvas. Sold.

Charlie Clamming8 X 12 oil on canvas. Click the link to view purchasing details. Just a quick word about this painting...I was working down at Centre Island Beach when who should wander into my view but my father in law's life long friend Charle Cressi. Charlie is in his 80's and has been battling prostate cancer for some time. However, he still gets out and goes clamming a couple of days a week! Clamming is hard, hard manual work...we should all have Charlie's stamina when we get to his age!

Sagamore Morning Light14 X 11 oil on canvas. Click the link to view purchasing details.

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the link undr each painting for purchasing details. The price includes shipping costs.

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