Category Archives: Workshops

Gay Faulkenberry Workshop: Day 5

Last day of the workshop. Boy, I’m exhausted. Here are my two studies today. When my notebook arrives (it’s with my art materials, coming home FexEx Ground), I’ll write a summary of what I learned.


Scottsdale Palms – Oil on Linen – 10×8 – $150 AVAILABLE


Apples & Grapefruit – Oil on Linen – 8×10 – SOLD

And, just so you know a master from a student (:-), here’s Gay Faulkenberry’s study:


Study by Gay Faulkenberry – 8×10

Gay Faulkenberry Workshop: Day 4

We painted still life setups outside today. Beautiful day, a little too warm in fact. I got bored painting still life, so painted two other artists. One painting of a yellow chair was just okay, so I wiped it.

This is my first still life of the morning, a quick small “warm-up” study.


Green Vase – Oil on Linen – 6×8 – $100 AVAILABLE
After painting another still life (yellow chair), and feeling bored, I wiped it and painted this of local (Tempe) artist/student, Gina. I’m pretty happy with this one.


Gina – Oil on Linen – 6×8 – SOLD
This was painting was done of Sue.


Sue – 12×9 – Oil on Linen

Gay Faulkenberry Workshop: Day 3

We started the day reviewing a slide show that Gay had prepared, including works by her teacher Serge Bongard. I completed two in-class studios and one quick painting after class. I couldn’t get a good photograph of the first study, so haven’t posted that one. Here are the other two.

Plums and flowers:


Red Still Life – Oil on Linen – 6×8 – SOLD
I did this quick study of cactus outside of town. I’ve never painted cactus before. I need to figure out their “gesture”, that is, the movement and shapes that make a cactus a cactus. This allows me to abstract out objects.


Scottsdale Cactus Study – Oil on Linen – 8×10SOLD

Gay Faulkenberry Workshop: Day 2

Gay painted the demo below, then we spent the day painting small studies (about 30 minutes each).

Gay started with the basic drawing:


Started with darks, and as usualy takes each object to relative completion.


More objects:






The finished study:

This one is mine, I painted a section of the same still life set up.

Another of my 4 studies today. I’m happy with the watermelon color, but had problems with the drawing of the brass pot behind…It meets the slice of melon in an awkward way.

A blah study for me. Nothing reallying happening. I struggled with the cup.

My last study of the day. I’m happy with the color harmony here. Exhausing day!

Gay Faulkenberry Workshop: Day 1

I’m not going to write a lot of thoughts tonight about this day and workshop as I would like to absorb more lessons and “boil it down” effectively. For now, I hope these picutres are helpful.

Gay began be demonstrating her palette:


Here’s her demo at the drawing stage. She began with a light violet wash.


Gay started with larger dark areas, then went from object to object, completing both light and shade planes, keeping things flat at this point.

She kept her values in a relatively close range, mid-value at this point, but again worked every object close to completion.


Notice the texture she’s building, even at this early stage. Really interesting brush strokes and direction.

Here’s the final demo.

Here’s my study for the day. As I compare my work to hers, clearly I don’t have enough sophisticated grays. I need to work on this. She did like my color and brushwork, but felt I took the painting too far, eg, I had it more abstract before this, and then wrapped the apples in dark strokes to better define them. Should have left them as is. How many artists does it take to finish a painting? One to paint, another to tell them when to stop. 🙂


Red Reflections – Oil on Linen – 8×10 – SOLD

2007 Ovanes Berberian Workshop Schedule

I know there are many fans of Ovanes Berberian that visit my blog. I’ve just heard from Ray Morrison that his workshop schedule for 2007 is now available. If you’re interested, sign up now as these classes fill up quickly. They are in June at his studio in Idaho.

Click here for the Registration Form.

I’m signed up for the week of June 18.

Here’s a study I did at his workshop in 2006.

Ovanes Berberian: My Demo of His Technique.

Since I was not allowed to photograph Ovanes Berberian’s demos, a few artists have asked me to show them the process using one of my own paintings. So here goes!

REFERENCE. (ON LOCATION) First, here’s the reference photo. I have to get a body of work that represents the San Francisco Peninsula for the Peninsula Plein Air Invitational at Filoli, so yesterday I spent the day on location. It’s a plein air event. It was a great, sunny day, although a bit windy. This reference photo shows what I had to work with. For those of you that live in the Bay Area, this is a little canyon Ron Schlorff and I stumbled upon between La Canada college and La Canada Road. It’s a nice spot. This photograph isn’t great, but basically there was a nice collection of greens and warm land colors to capture. The foreground bushes are a blue-green, contrasted with the warm gold-greens of the mid-ground trees, and the far background trees would be pushed back further with a blue, gray color with close intervals between shade and light colors.

DRAWING. I began by sketching in the outline and movement of the big shapes, using a combination of Sap Green and Alizarin Crimson. At this stage, Ovanes stresses the balance between shapes. All great paintings start out as great abstracts. If the painting isn’t interesting in this form, it won’t be painted, no matter what you do. I liked this abstract design (basing on what was before me, but altering as necessary), so I continued.

TONE. Here’s the wash stage. Ovanes would fill the canvas with bright washes, running one into the other. His would be even more loose than this. He does not pay attention to local color, but does vary warm and cool notes. The idea is to leave the wash showing in spots to create vibrations with the thicker paint on top. I could have kept the sky blues cleaner, and in the end that prevented me from getting the sky as luminous as I wanted. When I got back to my studio, I had to pull out the Manganese Blue, a VERY powerful blue that really illuminates.

DARKS. Next I layed in the darks. Ovanes’ variation between warm and cool darks is much more articulated in this stage than I’ve achieved here. He blends a lot, but keeps the colors clear in spots. He looks for opportunities for lost/found edges where shapes of the same value meet. When I say his darks are “articulated”, it means in spots there is great, pure color, yet surrounded by subtle grays.

PALETTE. Here’s a view of my palette, towards the beginning of the painting. I use an 18×24 hardened acrylic palette painted a mid-tone gray beneath. If this size is a bit small, so I’m building a larger one for my studio. The idea here is to use LOTS of paint (“Paint like a millionaire!”), and create interesting strings of colors, beautiful grays. Don’t mix more than two different colors adjacent to each other. I’ll have to take a picture of my pallete on other paintings, or further along, because it gets much more interesting than this. Hope this gives you the idea.

MIDTONES to LIGHTS to ACCENTS (DARKS). Work in mid-tones as long as you can, where the colors are generally at their peak strength. Then work to highlights (lights) and accents (darkest darks) to finish and bring the painting together. When I got the painting back into my studio, I worked the sky on the right a bit more, and I added some “sky holes” to the mid-ground trees, to make them “breath”, and to add some needed ground color to that side. This is the painting I ended up with, “Peninsula Hillside“, 16×20, Oil on Linen. It will be submitted to the upcoming plein air exhibition at Filoli in August.

Update: To get on the email list to attend a Ovanes Berberian workshop, contact Ray Morrison:





Ovanes Berberian Workshop, Day 5

This has been an exhausting week, but I learned a lot. The painting on the left is my last effort, which I think is a big improvement over the week. Click the image on the left to see details/enlarge. I’m going to add a few things (eg, light reflected off the bottle), but it’s near done. Ovanes was very happy with the color harmony and painting overall of the milk jub and the lower right fruit. Ovanes did feel that the table top was too warm; the green cup was getting a little chalky; and the blue and green container in the back was a bit too broken.Perhaps over the next weeks, depending upon interest (enter comments if you’re reading this blog!), I’ll include screen shots of how I’m applying his process, showing things I wasn’t able to photograph in his studio.

Ovanes Berberian Workshop, Day 4

We were supposed to paint ouitside this morning, but it rained so Ovanes took us into his studio for a slide show. We then painted all afternoon at a small lake part of the Snake River.

The slide show was great. In addition to showing us other masters the he admires (Sergi Bongard, J.Sorolla, etc), he actually showed us his earlier work, much of which he felt embarrassed about. This would be akin to Robert DeNiro showing the public video of his school play. This takes guts.

I noticed–and he pointed out–quite a few changes in his evolution. First, his latest work has much looser brush strokes. Somewhat softer/blened, but overall more sophisticated and confident. Second, his early work was overly literal, not as interpretave as it is now. He paid more attention then to local color, rather than varying color to reach a higher artistic interpretation/objective. Last, his color harmonies were less sophisticated. He pays much more attention now to the vibrations created by warm/cool color variations. Of course, even back then he could have painted any of us under the table!

After the slideshow, I stuck around to view the art for sale in his studio. I was on a mission, with Mike’s okay to buy.

Luckily, he came back into the studio just as I was narrowing down my choices. Without telling him which I was interested in, I asked him to point out some favorites. Thankfully, I’d chosen 3 of the 4 he named (out of 20+) in the room, so I felt my taste was on target. It was wonderful to hear him talk about each piece, and what he saw in them.

In the end it came down to two:one, a reflective early evening light painting of Tuscany; or a light-filled, vibrant painting done in hawaii. Thinking about Mike and my collection, I realized that most are of the quiet, somber variety, so I went for the happy painting. It’s truly an “artist’s painting”, since it’s unfinished, suggestive, makes you think. I love it, and hope Mike will too. I’ll ask Ovanes tonight if I can post it online.

I then spent the afternoon painting the nearby river. Finished two 8X10’s, one of which is shown to the left (“Idaho Sky”).
We have a demo tonight, so will likeky be watching Ovanes paint until midnight again. This is the life!

Ovanes Berberian Workshop, Day 3

Still making progress. I’m learning a lot from Ovanes, such a generous teacher.

Today I focused on the area he asked me to work on: “raw color” (include more sophisticated grays, I need to build up to the color). I was able to create the strings of pure color and grays on my palette, but I think less successful doing the same on my canvas. He does mix a fair bit on the canvas, whereas I tend to like to place a stroke down and leave it, to avoid creating mud. Somehow he’s able to mix on the canvas without creating a muddy mess. He commented that he generally doesn’t mix a third/forth color in that process, and so avoids this problem. In any case, he pointed out in his first demo how you need neutral grays to provide a dim stage for the pure colors to really “pop” as the star attraction.

When he got to my canvas at the end of the day, he saw improvement in color, but found my brushwork disjoint, broken. I realized I wasn’t mixing enough on the canvas, so will focus on this tomorrow, when we move from his orchard to paint on the Snake River, just down the road from his studio.

Hopefully, more progress then. Speaking of hope, Kumquat called to let me know my painting of Angel Island Harbour sold today! I’m on my way 🙂 and Mike gave me the okay to buy an Ovanes painting. I have my eye on a couple, one sunset, the other of a series of hilltop villages in what is probably Provence, but could be Italy. Cheers!

Ovanes Berberian Workshop, Day 2

Today was divided between painting still lifes in the Apple orchard and a nightime demo in his studio.

I made some progress today. Yesterday he commented that my color was too “raw”. He thought my values were strong, my paint application a little disjoint. He asked if I sold my work, which I took as a good sign 🙂

A number of us followed him from critique to critique to learn and watch as he transformed a mediocre study into a wonderful painting in just a few strokes. Wow.

The nightime demo was incredible. He painted on a light-blue toned canvas that I’m guessing was 48″x60″, huge! The still life set up was incredibly complex, with perhaps 24+ objects. I brought home a DVD of the demo.
He began by outlining the general composition with short linear strokes, eventual including elipses representing plates, fruit, vases, flowers, etc. He must have drawn millions of elipses because each was perfect.

Unlike yesterday’s demo, he didn’t start with a watercolor-like wash of local color, but instead went right into painting ala prima. He started with rich, articulated darks, blending edges carefully between adjoining colors.

He worked all over the canvas, but generally started from the center out. He even went back-and-forth between dark and light. He really focuses on blending on the canvas to get the color to bend to his liking. He demonstrated this on my own palette the next day, when he started with one pure color and created derivative strings of warmer/cooler versions, again by mixing the next color in the color wheel (generally), creating harmonious grays.

He worked on this huge painting, bringing it near finish (with one 10 minute break) between 9pm and midnight. The transformation of the painting was beyond words, bringing several artists to tears (the most experienced among us, by the way). Based on how I and others reacted to the demo that night, the more experience you have, the more you appreciate the difficulty of the beauty he created. I know what you’re thinking, I “drank the coolaid”, and perhaps I have. You had to be there.

Again, sorry, but he didn’t allow photography in his studio, so nothing here.