There are no stray or space-filling brush strokes in Curt Stanfield’s paintings.
Every brand has a purpose.
This is how Rena Brouwer sees Stanfield’s renderings of the sky, waterways, cornfields, sunsets, sunrises, and mud puddles – mostly painted in a single frame at sites in less than two miles from his rural home in Rosedale. Brouwer knows artistry. For nearly half a century, she painted internationally award-winning paintings, taught the craft across the United States, and is now co-owner of the popular Opera House Gallery in Delphi, Indiana.
Stanfield began painting three and a half years ago, after retiring from carpentry. He is 59 years old. His impressionist paintings are now on sale in the Brouwer gallery. They attract the attention of its customers like a magnet.
“His brands on the web speak in a more refined visual language,” Brouwer said last week. “I’ve spent my whole life trying to make my brands distinctive. He did it in less than four years.”
Adjectives such as “rare” and “remarkable” pepper descriptions of Stanfield’s rise. Since his almost accidental entry into the art realm in 2017, Stanfield’s paintings have received national and national honors and mentions, including from the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society and the American Impressionist Society. He was accepted into the prestigious Hoosier Salon Artist Services Organization on his first try. The elite artists of the famous Brown County Art Guild unanimously voted Stanfield in their ranks last year, “which rarely happens, just for his art,” said Roberta Chirko, gallery director of the guild in Nashville, Indiana. “He walked in right away and started selling right away.”
And, the Indiana Waterways Project chose Stanfield as one of five artists to collectively paint scenes from 20 Indiana water bodies for a book to be released next year and a traveling exhibition in 2023.
Sitting in a chair in his studio north of Rosedale, Stanfield shook his head in amazement as he retraced his path, dropping the $ 1,461 hanging carpenter’s belt on his paintings.
“I just have a gift, I guess,” he said, as Pink Floyd’s album “Dark Side of the Moon” played softly in the background. Stanfield’s T-shirt bore the seemingly incongruous Grateful Dead lyrics, “The sky was yellow and the sun was blue.”
In fact, Stanfield gained a reputation for his perception of color, as well as the spontaneity of his works.
“Part of my success is that I don’t base my art on someone else’s expectations,” he said. “It’s a personal thing. You find your own way. I paint like Curt.”
His path to notoriety did indeed start unexpectedly.
A few years ago, Stanfield and his wife made their daughter’s graduation wish come true with a vacation trip to Vieques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, their family’s favorite destination. He had just retired after 26 years with the local carpenters union. Their friends who live on the island persuaded Stanfield to paint a picture of the seaside landscape for a charity auction at the Siddhia Hutchinson Gallery to benefit the local Humane Society.
He hadn’t painted since his days in Professor Rod Bradfield’s class at Terre Haute North Vigo High School. Stanfield received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Indiana State University and worked 10 years as a design manager at Reuben H. Donnelley in Terre Haute, before joining the carpenters union, but this training and work did not did not involve painting pictures.
Nonetheless, Stanfield agreed to paint a seaside painting, did so – using borrowed canvases, brushes, and paint – and then returned home to Indiana with his family.
Stanfield’s friends at Vieques quickly told him that his painting had received third place, a pleasant surprise.
“It lit the fuse,” Stanfield recalls.
Busier than ever
He joined the Covered Bridge Art Association of Rockville and the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association (IPAPA). Outdoor artwork is done outdoors, usually in a single frame, just as Stanfield did on this island beach. Instead of surfing the ocean, he began to focus on the farm fields, woods, and roadsides around the rustic remoteness of Parke County.
Stanfield participated in an IPAPA competition organized by the Haan Museum of Indiana Art in Lafayette. “I didn’t know they were some of the best painters in the state. I had no idea,” he said. “I said, ‘I can’t do that. These people are too good.’ My wife made me pack my bags. “
Stanfield won two awards and sold one piece.
“After that, it was a crazy circus,” he said.
His retirement plans changed rapidly. “I thought I was going to be able to do all the chores,” he said, in addition to woodworking and fishing.
Instead, “I’m on a dead trail, seven days a week,” Stanfield added. “I’m busier now than I ever was when I was working.”
So Stanfield suspended his commission work. He paints whatever he wants, and it’s still a full time job. Stanfield’s artwork sells on its website at prices ranging from $ 685 for a 9-by-12-inch piece to 24 by 30 at $ 1,461 each. He travels to exhibitions and shows across the country. He studied through a one-on-one virtual connection with Dutch Impressionist Roos Schuring and learned alongside gracious Hoosier artists such as Jerry Smith of Crawfordsville, Jeff Klinker, Brouwer and others in Brown County. Art Guild.
Yet most of Stanfield’s development has happened on its own, “through buckets of paint.”
The chaos becomes spectacular
His approach to outdoor landscapes is unique. A living, snow-covered agricultural field is a perfect example. Its clouds, hazy sunlight, and frozen corn stalk stubble appear a bit hazy from a few inches away, but then blend into a spectacular rural view from a distance.
“If you get close to my art, it’s just chaos,” Stanfield explained. “When you step back, you see it.”
He painted in the Impressionist style made famous by 19th-century French artists such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and was distinguished by his vivid colors and emphasis on the use of light. Stanfield subjects can be as lowly as a frozen flooded cornfield or a puddle of mud. He often completes them outdoors in one sitting, outdoors.
“I paint things that no one else pays attention to,” he said.
For two weeks, Stanfield set up his easel on a nearby farm every night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. He painted the same flooded field 14 times in a row. His artistic palette froze. He developed a sinus infection. A puzzled farmer asked Stanfield what he was doing, to which the artist replied, “I paint.
The resulting paintings, however, are eye-catching.
“I painted the exact same scene every day just to see how it would change,” Stanfield said.
Her painting “Muddy Reflection” took place at a time of self-doubt. His attempts at painting in his studio had failed. “I was absolutely defeated,” he recalls. So he went down to the bottom of the stream.
“I just turned around and saw my reflection in that mud puddle and said, ‘I have to paint this,'” Stanfield said.
He admits that he sometimes wondered what might have happened if he had started practicing art in his youth. “Lord only knows where I would be,” he said as his gray spotted beard surrounded a smile.
He is doing pretty well anyway. “He achieved what so many artists have tried to achieve,” said Brouwer, his fellow member of the Brown County Art Guild and gallery owner at Delphi.
“If he continues as he does now,” added Brouwer, “Curt could be one of the most recognized artists in the country.”
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or [email protected]