Indiana Heritage Arts Exhibition and Sale | Guest Judge Stapleton Kearns

“Stape,” as he is known to his friends and many followers on his blog, claims his life is painting and sleep. He follows a strict regimen: up at 5 a.m., paint outdoors, paint indoors, and to bed at 9 p.m.

Stapleton Kearns, A New England landscape painter, will be judging several hundred pictures for the Indiana Heritage Arts 40th Annual Exhibition and Sale. The exhibition opens Saturday, June 9 for a 21-day run at the Brown County Art Gallery, 1 Artist Drive, Nashville.

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He estimates he’s sold 1,500 paintings since he began his painting career in the early 1970s. “My work is in about six galleries so I need to paint and produce works,” he said.

“I paint outdoors all the time, but I’m not a real plein air painter because I bring my work back and finish them in the studio,” he said. “I usually throw away one-half to two-thirds of my work.”

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He lives 40 miles from Boston in the mountains of New Hampshire. In addition to painting, he works on his house, judges art shows, and travels.

“When I was asked to come to Nashville to judge the IHA show, I said yes right away,” he said. Kearns said he has judged the Hoosier Salon two times, his parents once lived in Louisville and a grandmother, whom he visited many times, lived across the Ohio in Indiana. “I have some artist friends in Indiana I would like to visit,” he said.

“To be successful,” he explained, “you have to be busy.” He added, “I’m a professional artist, that’s what I do.” He said he has won his “fair share” of awards and has been in national competitions. “It seems that I travel a lot,” he said. He conducts painting workshops. Russia and Wales are on his calendar and he conducts a popular “snow camp” workshop every winter in New England.

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He said he advises young people – those under 30 – if they want to become a full-time painter to attend an atelier (an art studio) like Grand Central Atelier in New York City. Stapleton, who dropped out of high school but later finished his GED and went on to study art at the University of Minnesota did have an atelier experience at the well-known Fenway Studios in Boston, the oldest continuous art building in America.

“If a student really wants to paint, he will learn the technique “no matter what.” He believes all students need to study art history. In my grandparents’ day, he explained, they had flash cards of famous works of art and they memorized the cards. He said art books weren’t common, he said, in his youth. “But I remember my first art history book was on John Constable.”

Stapleton was president of the Rockport, MN Art Association founded in 1921 and now compromises 250 artists and photographers. He worked at the Rockport Association as a janitor in his youth in order to meet artists and learn from famous landscape painters. He is now on the board of managers for the Guild of Boston Artists, founded in 1914, a cooperative of 48 painters elected to membership.

His favorite places to paint are Vinal Haven, ME, Rockport, Vermont and Acadia, land stretching from northern Maine into Canada. “Maybe I’ll throw my paints and gear in my car and paint when I get to Nashville.”

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Hours for the Exhibition and Sale are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Info at 812-988-4609 or www.indianaheritagearts.org

-Guest Blogger Letty Newkirk

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