16×20 Alla Prima Painting Demo

I’m back from my workshop in Amelia Island Florida which was a great success in spite of the crummy weather. Stayed in Charleston on the return trip and was unable to post to the blog last Sunday because of a lack of internet service. I will return to my weekly Sunday posting schedule following this post.

Monday I painted a 16×20 demo at Fort Clinch State Park and opened it up to the public. We had 13 people in the class and another 12 showed up in the rain to watch me paint. The last 45 minutes the rain got too heavy and we all ran inside where I finished the painting from memory. Here are a few pictures.


Starting with the line of action for the tree
Massing in the large shapes
50 degrees and light rain
Modelling the forms
Painting inside from memory. I would never do this for myself but it was a good lesson for the students on being flexible and not giving up on a painting.
The finished demo
The Old Oak 16×20
2 hours painting time
There is enough information here for me to paint a studio painting at a later time. Sometimes you can’t get a finished painting in the field but you can collect enough information for a great studio painting.
A field sketch will always have more truth than a photo will.

Butterfly Garden Demo

Armand Cabrera

The images for this article are from one of my demos at the Acadia Workshop I taught out near Bass Harbor. I demo everyday in my workshops so the students can see how I solve problems not just hear me talk about it.
Gail Ribas the owner of Acadia Workshops has a great venue and the locations are all beautiful. She has a big well lit studio for inclement days. We had a class of 9 students. We’ve scheduled another class   for next fall, Sept 19-23 and I already have a couple of students planning to be there.

For me, the trip was a dream come true, on the way up I stayed in Gloucester for two nights near Rocky Neck. I had perfect weather and got a painting in the one full day I was there. I visited the Cape Ann Museum and and got some pictures of motiff number one in Rockport so I can do my painting of it at a later date.
 Stapleton Kearns was very helpful suggesting places to visit. Once in Maine I actually got to meet Stapleton one evening after my class and he let me hang out with him and his group while they were painting in Acadia Park.

This demo is from Charlotte Rhoades Park in Southwest Harbor five minutes from the workshop center.I want to thank Wyn Easton for taking these photos of me during the painting process. Diane is always after me to photograph my demos but I can demo and talk or demo and photograph but I can’t demo, talk and photograph at the same time.

The garden club has a beautiful butterfly garden in full bloom and I always find it a treat to paint. The challenge is to not get lost in too much detail and preserve the big divisions of light and shadow in the scene. This kind of motif can easily be distracting because of all of the saturated color and lack of solid forms.

I spent a few minutes observing and deciding what I was going to move around for my painting and how I would place the elements I wanted in the image.

I started with a simple contour drawing of the big masses as I saw them.

I then blocked in the average shadows being sensitive to hue changes for the different plants and shrubs.

I continue to block all the big shapes in preserving their relative brightness to sun and shadow.

At the very last stages of the painting I refine shapes, adjust values and add the flowers and some detail being careful not to lose the lights. The biggest mistake I see people make painting scenes like this is they get confused by the blooms and fail to preserve their sense of light.

The finished painting ‘Butterfly Garden’ 12×16 oil on linen painting time two hours.

Red Wolf Demo

Armand Cabrera

This is a Step by step demo of a Red Wolf head study I did for an art forum I frequent. Someone on the forum was wondering how to paint fur. I thought I would repost it here too, so I apologize if you’ve already seen it. The photo was taken by me when I was out in California at one of the zoo’s there.
The size of this painting is 10×12 inches and I am working in oils; my palette consists of Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Permanent, Cad Red Light, Cad Yellow Light, and Titanium White

The first thing I did was draw the contour of the wolf with a brush getting the general shape down quickly.

Then I looked for the big color and value changes and blocked those in ignoring details and edge quality at this point.

Next I start to modify those big shapes by adjusting the smaller changes within them and paying attention to their edges.

The last thing I do is scrub in a background so I can paint the highlights and paint the details and refine the proportions where I think they need it. I am not really trying to paint any differently than when I paint a landscape. While there is a little more accuracy involved here, the approach is basically the same for whatever subject I tackle.

Complete time for this is two hours. These types of exercises are great for practice; changing subject matter is a good way to apply the ideas of picture making that you have developed. If your ideas have any veracity they should work for any subject matter. If not they are most likely a formula and should be re-thought or discarded for something more universal.

Painting Demonstrations and Other Events

Armand Cabrera
With spring and summer approaching fast, there are some things I want to let you know about  in the Northern Virginia Area. I will give a free painting demonstration On April 2 and again on April 9 At Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane VA.

I will start from a blank canvas at noon and complete a painting in about 3 hours.
Feel free to bring your dog, sit on the wonderful patio with incredible views, drink wine, listen to music, have a picnic lunch and watch a plein air painting being created!
I will also explain my process and answer questions as I paint.

I plan to do these free events as time and weather permit throughout the summer and I will post the information on my website and here as we lock down more dates.
These events are a lot of fun and I never know how many people will show up. I have had as few as 6 and as many as 100 come out to watch.


I also have a couple of workshops later in the year up and down the East Coast. These are already filling so make your plans soon if you would like to join me at one of these venues. More info can be found on my Workshop page on my website or using the links to the contact info below

In the fall I have a workshop in Maine at Acadia Workshops, the dates are Sept.19-23.  More info here
October 3-6 I will conduct a workshop through Anderson Fine Art Gallery on St Simons Island in Georgia this will precede my one man show at the gallery. Contact Anderson Fine Art Gallery for complete Info 912-634-8414
October 13-16 Northern Virginia Fall color Workshop. Come paint fall on my new home turf. More info here

Road Trip

Armand Cabrera

Sorry for the delayed post. I’ve been teaching in California and have had limited access to the blog for some unknown reason. Here are some of the outdoor paintings I’ve painted while here. I will post the complete process for a couple of them when I get a chance.

The weather has been mild and perfect for painting outside. Painting the ocean from life is always satisfying. I’ve been working  on 12×16 linen panels. Just having one size makes travel a lot easier.
I shipped the OMS to the hotel ahead of time. and there was only one slight hitch with that.

It seems you can’t ship OMS or any solvent in containers larger than 32 ounces in CA anymore. Of course the way the law is written, you can ship as many 32 ounce containers as you want ; go figure. So instead of shipping a gallon can of OMS in one box, I had to buy and ship four 32 ounce cans in one box, which is still a gallon last time I checked. So all this law has done is made it more expensive to buy  and ship OMS because you are now buying it in smaller units. I love government.