Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ray Roberts Workshop - Day 2

Today was a full day, on-location. Because the workshop is located in downtown Scottsdale and the good paintings spots aren't, you have to drive a bit to get to the sites. Including driving time, the day began at 8 and ended at 7. The good news is, the painting spot was superb. The photo here shows a little bend in the Salt River near Saguaro Lake. (It reminds me a lot of the Rio Chama near Abiquiu, NM.) That's Ray on the left instructing another student. My easel is in the foreground.
Value is everything in a painting, and Ray made sure we understood that today. Especially tricky were the shadowed areas of the cliffs. Warm light reflecting off the sunlit brush bounced back into the shadows, making them appear warmer and thus brighter. Making this all hold together took some work. In my case, Ray helped me remember to pick your lightest light to key the painting to. You'll see my lightest light in the "rim lighting" of the saguaro in this painting. It was important to make sure the rest of the painting kept to lower values than this.

Later in the day, we moved over to Bulldog Canyon, where the volcanic tuff cliffs served as a backdrop for a veritable garden of saguaros and palo verde trees. Ray gave us a demonstration of painting a palo verde. Here's an action shot of Ray at work.

The light changed a good bit as clouds began to move in, and painting the saguaros and keeping the values accurate was a real trick. Here, I was trying to key my painting to the near-blinding light of the dirt road -- but then a veil of clouds swept across the sun, and it wasn't my lightest light anymore! It became more of an exercise in foregrounds, and how to make that chaotic mass of tar brush, creosote brush, prickly pairs and scorpions into something organized just enough so it reads realistically.

Thanks to my new art pal, Les Lull (, I now have enough panels for the week. He arrived with a whole stack of 8x10s for me to work on. Thanks, Les!

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