Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale


Armand Cabrera

Eleanor Brickdale was the youngest child of a barrister. She began her formal study of art at 17 enrolling in the Crystal Palace School of Art and then the Royal Academy School in London. In 1894 her father was killed in an alpine accident and the family moved to Kensington. She began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in the black and white section starting in 1896 and won a prize for her painting, spring in 1897. That same year she had a feature in The Studio on her work.

The prize money from her award let her concentrate on larger paintings for the Royal Academy shows. Her first large scale oils were shown at the RA in 1899. That same year she illustrated Sir Walter Scotts Ivanhoe. In the summer of that same year she received a commission from London Gallery owners Walter and Charles Dowdeswell for a solo show of watercolors, to be delivered and paid for in quarterly installments over the next two years. The exhibition of forty five pictures opened in 1901. The show was widely reviewed and well praised and all except two paintings were sold.

Brickdale received another article in The Studio in 1901 with eight monochrome and two color pieces written by Walter Shaw Sparrow. The next year Brickdale was the first woman elected to the Institute of Painters in Oils and became an associate member of the Royal Watercolor Society.

More book commissions came in and Brickdale continued to regularly exhibit her watercolors in the bi-annual shows at the Royal Watercolor Society from 1902 and at least one oil painting a year at the Royal Academy. Dowdeswell Galleries renewed their commission for another show of watercolors in 1905. In 1909 Leicester Galleries commissioned a show of 28 works based on Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

Brickdale and her work continued to be popular and more commissions for book illustrations and gallery shows kept her busy until 1932 when her eyesight began to fail.

Brickdale suffered a stroke in 1938 but continued to show paintings at the Royal Watercolor Society shows until 1942. Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale died in London in 1945 at the age of 73.


Women Artists and the Pre-Raphealite Movement

Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerish Nunn

1989 Virago Press

Space Shuttle Discovery Retires

Armand Cabrera

My friend Gary and I went and  watched the Discovery land at Dulles Airport  today. We were lucky and were right under the flight path for three fly overs. It landed on the third pass and we had a great view on an overpass near the end of the runway. I was happy to see so many people turn out for the event. It will be interesting to see how the privatization of space will work now going forward with companies like SpaceX .

Charles Muench Workshop

by Armand Cabrera

                                Bend in the River            12 x 16                   Oil on Linen

I wanted to share a great opportunity with everyone. My friend Charles Muench is teaching a workshop in the Sierras this June and there are a couple of spots still available.  Charles is a highly collected and award winning artist. His solo shows have been sellouts for the last few years and he lives in the Sierras and paints in all four seasons outdoors there.

                                     Mount Ritter            36 x 30                Oil on Linen

Charles awards include an Award of Excellence from the Oil Painters of America in 1999, the Gold Medal at the San Louis Obispo Plein Air competition in 2002, Artist Choice in 2003 at Telluride Plein Air, Best of Show at Telluride Plein Air in 2006, Best of Show at the Crystal Cove Invitational in 2007,  First Place at the Joan Irvine Smith Heritage Exhibition 2008, The Collectors Choice Award at Maynard Dixon Country Show in 2005 and 2008, The Edgar Payne Award for best landscape at the California Art Club Gold Medal Show in 2010, and the Southwest Art Magazine Award of Excellence at the California Art Club Gold Medal Show in 2011, and the Irvine Museum Purchase Award at the California Gold Medal Exhibition 2012.

Hope Valley Spring Workshop

Four Day Workshop Painting the Eastern Sierra

Spring time in Hope Valley.
June 9th – June 12th


Not only is Hope Valley one of the most beautiful places in all of the Sierra, it is also one of the most accessible. Easy walking to great scenery!

Wildflowers, snow capped peaks, and the meandering West Carson River.

Accommodations are available in Markleeville, Hope Valley, and Woodfords.

Charles will make the most of each day- demonstrations, painting, critique, and taking in the gestalt of a group of artists painting together.

E-mail Charles for deposit and reservation information, materials list, accommodations, and any questions you might have.

For more information, click here to visit Charles’ website:


Spring Wildflowers in Hope Valley.

Spring snow-melt demonstration.

If you are looking for a chance to study painting with a contemporary master in a spectacular setting I highly recommend this workshop.  

Round Valley Spring   20 x 30   Oil on Linen

Training as an Artist

Armand Cabrera


All artists are influenced by other artists and to become an artist we need some form of training to get to where we want to go. People who claim to be self-taught usually mean their study was self-guided using museums and books and formulating their opinions and ideas without the direct influence of a teacher.


Most artists are trained by a teacher or teachers over the course of their careers. This could be at a generalized school taking art classes or a more focused approach through a trade school, academy or atelier, concentrated specifically on art. Either way the outcome depends on the student, there are far more students that graduate and have no career in art than students that are successful.


With the rise and renewed interest in realism I see a disturbing trend happening in art schools. Schools no longer train in the just fundamentals but indoctrinate students into thinking that their method is the only path to success. These schools engage in a sort of brainwashing equivalent to EST and all the other quack zealotry that happens in fringe religious groups.


 A lot of schools these days prey on artists seeking knowledge, trying to convince them they must endlessly study under a school or teachers guidance to achieve success. In these situations the teachers and school are giving them only enough information and encouragement to continue forking over their hard earned money. When you feel someone is holding back information from you, find other instruction or take some time for absorption and practice of what has been learned and self-guided discovery.

Remember most academic artists at the turn of the century only studied fulltime for a year or two. Even then summers were spent painting with other students away from the instructor and school. Most of the artists of that time we revere today never completed their studies. This idea now by some institutions and teachers that you need 5 to 10 years or more of study to learn to draw is ridiculous. All a student needs is the fundamentals and some time putting them into practice on their own. Any honest teacher will tell you this.

Subject is Secondary


Armand Cabrera


There has always been much made about the subject of a painting. Some subjects always attract the ire of judges and critics. This seems lazy to me; I think a painting should be judged on its emotional and technical merits regardless of the subject chosen by the artist.
Subject has always been secondary for me. It is just a vehicle for my expression of something more intangible. Even in portrait or figure painting it is more about the abstract qualities and the facility of the paint handling for me than the person or people in the image. Getting a likeness is more than just measuring.
It is the arrangement of color and value and shape that makes beauty not the subject. I am after the light in a scene or the assortment of colors a season has mixed up and presented to me. It is not so much a place as it is the underlying qualities that make that place interesting at a particular time of day or season combined with my emotional response.  In my opinion it is these things that make an image timeless and it is their expression I am looking for when I paint.