Saturday, October 1, 2011
Home: Lookout Mountain
Background: Immersed in the craft by his father, famous watercolorist Hubert Shuptrine, Alan has become an acclaimed painter in his own right as well as a sought-after framer by museums and collectors. He’s one of the few in the country to offer hand-carved, water-gilded frames—a centuries-old method of applying gold leaf. This month, his paintings will hang with 10 other artists in The Vero Beach Museum of Art’s exhibit, “In the Tradition of Wyeth—Contemporary Watercolor Masters.”
I’ve been painting watercolor ever since I was a toddler. I would sit for hours and watch my father paint. When he would mess a painting up, I would pick it out of the trash and insist there was nothing wrong with it. He would hand me a couple of brushes and some paints and let me sit in the floor beside him and try to fix them.
I started straight out of college making handmade art frames for a handful of regional and national artists. I began framing for Andrew Wyeth in 1985 fresh out of school. Today I have framed more than 350 Wyeth’s. I’ve had the opportunity to see them up close and personal and it’s had a tremendous effect and influence on my style.
Watercolor requires an incredible amount of planning because there is no white paint. For really bright, intense areas you’re using simply the power of the paper. You can also use transparent colors to let the intensity of the paper illuminate the color.
If you make one mistake you have to start all over—you can’t cover it up with more paint like other mediums. You have to be very confident and bold. Painting is something you never quite master. It’s a lot like golf; it’s kind of hard to put it all together at once.
For hundreds of years watercolor has been a secondary medium. It hasn’t been until the last 50 years with the influence of Wyeth that it has taken on a larger role. Today with UV acrylics and conservation
glass, watercolors are not nearly as fragile as they were decades ago and museums aren’t as afraid
to display them.
Wyeth was able to inspire so many others with developing a way to control watercolor. We always think of watercolor being lots of wet and splattered washes that swim together. But in actuality there are several techniques you can use such as drybrush, which Wyeth popularized. His legacy has been tremendous and many consider him one of the greatest artists that ever lived.
The economy has really slowed things down. It’s certainly not a profession this day and age that comes easy. But I have a real passion about it because I want to leave a legacy for my two sons and I want to share my images with the world, so I continue plodding on. My dad used to say, ‘Don’t become an artist unless you just can’t help yourself.’
I want to take what my influences have taught me such as my father, Andrew Wyeth and Stephen Scott Young and continue on the tradition. I don’t feel like I’ve hit my stride yet, but I have been steadfast in my journey and will continue to do so. I’m dying to get behind the easel and paint more. I feel like it’s my calling.