Thursday, May 31, 2012

Late Sun at More Mesa

Lessons learned in Ray Robert's Workshop
Along with about 12 other students I got to spend 2 intense days painting and learning from Ray Roberts, a great workshop teacher and winner of the Gold Medal Award for Painting at the California Art Club's 101st Annual Gold medal show in April of this year.   Here are some of the notes I took and what I'm taking with me from the class:

The focus on shapes; finding the rhythm of the shape and making the contour interesting enough to be believable, but not being a slave to the literal interpretation.
(We did a great exercise where we focused on painting a scene in just 3 values, focusing on the shapes and staying pretty close in values within each shape, simplifying it to make a stronger statement - a great exercise for me because I tend to get lost in all the beautiful colors I see in nature and then I tend to end up with too much lights and dark areas within an area/value and loosing the strong design, things "popping" where they shouldn't...)

Ray pointed out that if you are unhappy with a painting it is often because you changed your light and dark pattern.
-We talked about achieving "Dynamic Symmetry" where there is both balance - and tension. 
-Seeing painting as a subtractive process of what to avoid:
Anything equal, repeating angles; shapes; sizes and spacing.

The painting high above is the one I did in the afternoon on the first day.  I was drawn to the contour of the cliff and if you look at the photo right above you can see that there is this "very interesting clump of trees" hanging off the edge of the cliff.  Great I thought, and put it in just the way it was.   Ray came over and was nudging me to perhaps take them out....I felt pretty resistant since those trees were the reason I decided to paint this cliff (aside from the composition I could create within the little 6x6 format and the great atmosphere and colors) so I was pretty determined to keep them.   In a very smart move Ray then asked Peggy (Kroll-Roberts, his wife and a very accomplished artist and teacher) to come over and look at my painting asking her if there was something she felt I should add?...Or take out, I added.   Well she said, there are those trees that just draw your eye over there because it's the area of most contrast make a long story short - I got the point, took them out and learned an important lesson in the importance of simplifying and not being a slave to what's there especially when something that might seem interesting can pull your eye over to that area in a painting and then get you stuck there:-)
I really like this little plein air sketch now.  It's simplified, the values and shapes work and I love the combination of color.  Thank you Ray and Peggy!
Now on to the next thing I need to learn...


  1. I love this painting! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your process and what you learned. I really appreciate it.

  2. Thank you so much T.J.! I appreciate your comments and I really enjoyed visiting your blog!


Thank you! Comments are much appreciated and it means a lot to me that you took the time.