Caleb Stone, 38, was born into the artists' colony of Rockport. He got his first brush and palette at age 7 from his father, the well-known Cape Ann artist Don Stone, and by age 12 he was participating in professional-level painting workshops. Cambridge writer Robert Garrett sat down with Stone at the artist's studio in Ipswich.
"My dad gave me the best palette and brushes when I was a child, not toy brushes or cheap things, but top-of-the-line stuff. He said, `Take care of these.' I felt like an apprentice."
"I look forward early in the morning to going out on location when the light is best. I wake up and see the light, and I'm excited to get out there. When you're painting outdoors, the light's always changing. The world keeps turning on its axis. Light is fleeting."
"I remember how things looked in a moment of time, and I keep going back to that mental image when the reality in front of me is different than it was, when the light and shadow have changed. Artists are trying to seize the light and get the information we need for a painting, almost like a hunter going out to hunt. I try to get as much down in two or three hours as I can, then work on it later in the studio or go back to that location when the conditions are similar."
UNIFYING A SCENE
"I really focus when I'm outdoors. It's a heightened consciousness. You feel the air, you smell the salt of the ocean, you hear the pounding of surf against the rocks. All the senses become more vivid, especially the visual. When I'm in the zone, nothing else is weighing on me. There's no other thought process other than the brush is in my hand, I'm seeing what's out in front of me. I'm making visual choices as I go along. When it's coming together, I'm getting the light on the water, the motion of the wind on it, the sky, the rocks, they become one scene."
"My dad is my best critic. [As a child] I had a good, fair, loving father, a really good artist I could learn from. He didn't want me to paint like him, he wanted me to be my own painter to sing my own song. I'm carrying on the tradition. I posed for my dad on the rocks at Loblolly Cove as a child, when I was about 6. I vividly remember striking a pose with one leg under the other and looking at the ocean toward Thacher Island. I paint with my father now; we sometimes go out on location together."
"Sometimes people with the best intentions come up to you when you're painting; even if they want to compliment your work, it can throw you off. I'm not saying I can't have people talk to me, but it definitely takes away the concentration. Tourists think we're here for their entertainment. If I don't want to be disturbed, I may put on headphones even if I'm not playing music, it deters them."
"There are so many artists who have painted on Cape Ann. Winslow Homer, Fitz Hugh Lane. I don't have one favorite artist. It's like asking a kid: What's your favorite candy? You love them all. They were here before you; they were attracted to this place. The light is so beautiful because Cape Ann is surrounded on three sides by water. The light is bouncing off the water; it creates ambient light."
EASY FOR HIM TO SAY
"I wouldn't want to do anything else, even if I didn't make money at it. It's about the joy of going out and being inspired by nature and to capture a scene."
"Wind can break your concentration. Even on a nice summer day, a gust can come along just when you're working on the most delicate part of the canvas. I try to support my easel as securely as possible so it's not going to blow down. I've had an easel blow off a wharf into the water, 20 feet down at low tide. It got smashed to pieces."