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.