Stapleton Kearns

Stapleton Kearns
Stapleton Kearns is a landscape painter based in New England.

When I first encountered his work some years ago (it can take me a while to get to these posts, folks), I felt it had a nice feeling of being influenced by early 20th century American landscape painters like John Fabian Carlson and, to a lesser extent, Emile Gruppe — painters who, while not American Impressionists, carried forward their bright colors and immediate brushwork, along with a solid underpinning of realist tradition in draftsmanship and composition.

It was later, on reading his blog, that I found Kearns mention his admiration for another artist with whom I was only passingly familiar, Aldro Hibbard. In the process it led me to a better appreciation of Hibbard’s work (likely the subject of a future post — here is a search for Aldro Hibbard on Kearns’ blog).

Kearns studied in the studios of R.H. Ives Gammell, a painter who championed the traditions of academic and classical realism in the face of the wave of modernism that acted to suppress them in the early to mid 20th century. Gammell was himself a student of the great American painter Edmund Tarbell.

In addition to his own blog, Kearns contributes to the group blog, The Boston School of Painting, devoted to artists in that lineage.

Though certainly worth checking out, Kearns’ own website is unfortunately not the showcase for his work that it might be; the portfolio is somewhat awkwardly arranged and the images are frustratingly small (there are some larger ones on the Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art gallery site).

It’s unfortunate, in that Kearn’s paintings, in those few examples I’ve seen in higher resolution, have a wonderful surface quality, as well as details of color variation and paint handling that would make larger images rewarding.

Even in the smaller images, however, you can see his strong sense of composition, economy of notation, harmonious application of color and dedication to capturing the light of his scene on location.

Though his website feels like it hasn’t received much attention for a while, Kearns’ blog is another story, and has evidently received much of his attention over several years. It is nothing short of a treasure trove.

Not only can you find some of his work reproduced larger (by searching for the label “my paintings“), you will also find a wealth of other topics accessible by the labels toward the bottom of the right hand column for topics like “art technique”, “art history”, “color”, “painting outside” and many others; as well as by simply looking back through his posts.

Kearns, both as a teacher of workshops and classes and through the blog, is handing down much of what he has learned from the lineage of his training, his interest in art history and his own experience as a painter. There is even a feature called “Ask Stape” (which is essentially an email contact), in which he writes or appends posts in response to reader questions.

The combination of personal experience, articles on artists from history and musings on aspects of art and painting like color, composition, materials and other topics puts me in mind of James Gurney’s remarkable blog, Gurney Journey (which I have written about previously).

Here, for example, is a terrific Kearns post in which he talks about dealing with summer greens and “smuggling red”.

When looking through the blog I find myself constantly making bookmarks and going off on searches related to topics or artist names he brings, up, some familiar, some new and some, like Hibbard, marginally familiar but to which I have not paid enough attention.

The latest of these has given me renewed awareness and enthusiastic appreciation of the work of Edward Seago, a brilliant English painter who will undoubtedly be the subject of a post in the near future (here is a search for Edward Seago on Kearn’s blog).

I find it particularly rewarding to use the blog’s search feature (upper left), searching, for example, for terms like “color palette“.

There is such a backlog of fascinating information on Kearns’ blog (not to mention strong opinions and amusing snarkiness from “Stape”, as he is called) that I’ll do something rarely called for in a post about an individual artist, and issue my Time Sink Warning. Enjoy.

Eye Candy for Today: View of the Hague, and study by Cornelis Springer

View of the Hague, and study by Cornelis Springer
View of the Hague from the Delft Canal by Cornelis Springer, and study for the same.

In the Rijksmuseum; original pages here and here.

In many ways, I like the wonderfully painterly study more than the finished painting, though both are beautiful.

Anna and Elena Balbusso

Anna and Elena Balbusso
Anna and Elena Balbusso are illustrators based in Milan, Italy.

They are twins and create their work as a team. There is a page on their website devoted to their working process.

Both studied at the Academy of Fine Arts “Brera” of Milan, and the University of Milan. Their work has appeared in numerous publications in Italy, France, the UK, Korea and the U.S. They have received recognition from the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, American Illustration Applied Arts, Print, and other publications and artists organizations.

The portfolios on their website are organized by “Graphic Style”, “Painterly Style” and “Children’s Books”. Within each category you will find both a variety of approaches and repeated stylistic elements.

Their work shows a firm grounding in the traditions of European art history as well as a sharply modern design sensibility, and the two are skillfully blended into a visually captivating whole.

I particularly admire their use of contrastingly muted and vibrantly rich colors, and the wonderful textural quality of their “painterly” style, as well as the strong design evident in all of their compositions.

You can find additional galleries of their illustrations on Shannon Associates, the iSpot, Behance and on, which is where I found their work by way of Irene Gallo.

Their illustration accompanies the new story Men Who Wish to Drown by Elizabeth Fama on the Tor website.

There is also a selection of their illustrations for The Handmaid’s Tale on The Guardian.

You can find additional resources on their links page.

Björn Hurri (update)

Bjorn Hurri
Björn Hurri is a concept artist working in the gaming industry, He has worked for companies like NCsoft, Catalyst Game Labs and SEGA and is currently the Lead Artist for Opus Artz, a production design agency based in London.

When I wrote about his work back in 2008, I highlighted his fun and, at the time, lightly sketched illustrations for steam punk versions of characters from Star Wars.

Since then, Hurri has expanded the project into a longer series of more finished illustrations (image above, top), with more elaborate interpretations of the characters.

His other work for gaming projects ranges from historical through science fiction subjects, and frequently displays Hurri’s skill at conveying texture and atmosphere.

I particularly enjoy his playful take on John Bauer’s wonderful big-nosed trolls (above, bottom).

Though his website is currently unavailable, you can find a portfolio of his work, along with some relevant information about the artist, on CGHub.

Hurri is also a contributor to the Gorilla Artfare group blog.

Eye Candy for Today: Jan Jansz Treck still life

Still Life with a Pewter Flagon and Two Ming Bowls, Jan Jansz Treck
Still Life with a Pewter Flagon and Two Ming Bowls, Jan Jansz Treck.

Faded, but still beautiful.

The bowls are an odd color because the artist used a type of smalt (cobalt glass) blue that was not lightfast.

In the National Gallery, London. Use fullscreen and zoom icons to right of the image.