George Stone ’86
A lot of preparatory work goes into one of George Stone’s oil paintings. He starts with pencil drawings, sketching until he arrives at an acceptable composition. Landscapes are his subject of choice, so these drawings and small paintings often begin outside, where he gathers accurate shapes, values and color notes of the scene before him.
Then, it’s into the studio, where he performs a small black-and-white value study. The value study is important; it’s all about the right light.
“There are four main planes in a landscape,” Stone explains, “the sky plane; the ground plane; the slanted plane, such as mountains or hills; and the upright plane, which are usually trees. I do the black-and-white value study to get the relationships between the planes correct to convey the quality of light.”
Whether it’s foggy, midday or at sunset, each landscape plane requires a different treatment — including color, of course. A small color study allows Stone to easily make changes in his palette before moving on to the full-scale piece. “For instance, the light at sunset is a very warm, reddish-orange light,” he continues. “I might do a red-dominant palette for that scene in order to convey that quality of light.”
This careful creative process didn’t come to Stone overnight; it’s the product of a labor of love 50 years in the making that began when Stone was just 8 or 9 years old, the age his mother signed him up for watercolor classes with an elderly neighbor down the street.
“My mom got me started with watercolors when I was a kid because they don’t require solvents. You know, they’re a little bit safer. Not so messy,” Stone laughs. “Because I definitely could have made a big mess.”
Art may have been Stone’s first love, but it was rivaled by baseball, which he played religiously growing up. Eventually, he made it onto the Clemson Baseball team as a right-handed pitcher, despite having zero college offers out of high school. Two years under Clemson coach Bill Wilhelm led to a professional stint with the White Sox that ended with spring training in 1987.
Fortunately, Stone had recently graduated from Clemson with a degree in mechanical engineering, and he found work with South Carolina Electric and Gas in Columbia, South Carolina, where he stayed for the bulk of his career.
Stone closed his baseball chapter as a young man, but his passion for painting and drawing remained. For many years, art was a creative outlet and a hobby to enjoy with his daughter, Ashley. In retirement, Stone has turned his art into a second career, evidenced by his recent acceptance into the Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition.
These days, when he isn’t painting with oils (which he loves for layering and texture), he’s marketing his work, varnishing pieces, delivering to galleries and connecting with customers. And even when he’s short on time, pencil and paper are never too far away — a habit he credits with keeping the art spark alive all these years.
“I believe that God has given me some talent — maybe not a lot of talent — but some talent,” Stone says with a smile. “So, it was important for me to pursue that, to make the most of it and to try to bless others with it.”