2009 Workshops

Workshops, Demos and E-Classes


Yes, I have to pay bills too.
This is a list of upcoming Armand Cabrera events for 2009.



Study Studio Painting
Intense, pesonal instruction by Armand Cabrera




~ FEBRUARY 2009 ~
Saturday, February 7th


Our first demonstration of the year will be held at
Ayr Hill Gallery in Vienna, Virginia.
The demonstration is free, but you must register in advance
for the gallery to hold a place for you.
Limited space12:30 – 2:30ish

This is a BYOC event—-bring your own chair!

Please contact Gail Roberts to register.
Email Gail

Telephone: (703) 938-3880141
Church Street NWVienna, Virginia 22180


Thursday, February 12th


This demonstration will be sponsored by
The Vienna Arts Society
115 Pleasant Street N. W. Vienna, Virginia


This is an indoor demonstration – so come, rain or shine
10:30 am – 12:30 pm
We’ll begin right after their monthly meeting

Armand Cabrera Workshops


~ APRIL 2009 ~
Arts Center of Coastal Carolina
April 26 – May 1
Evening Orientation * 3 days painting in studio * 2 days painting outdoors
~ SEPTEMBER 2009 ~
Brazier Studio Workshops
September 24 – 27
If there is any trouble with the links above please visit the workshop page on my site


Painting Forest Scene Interiors

Armand Cabrera

Here is a way to organize the complex information of an interior forest. This will work no matter what your rendering style happens to be. Whether you are an impressionist painter like me or a realist, the basic building blocks for the picture are the same the only difference is how far you want to carry the finish.

The challenge is to arrange the information to give you the illusion of space where no horizon is apparent. Forest scenes work best when you use clearings to establish a foreground, middle ground or background to help divide space in the scene. It doesn’t matter if you are painting jungle or alpine forests, the lush foliage of summer or the bare branches of winter trees; the abstract qualities of design still apply.

It helps to visualize the anchor points of the composition first. These objects will have the most detail and can be flagged or spotlighted for greater effect. A large tree or a trailhead or stream will help start the viewer in the painting. They will give your eye a place to go in the image allowing you to use areas of less detail as counterpoints.

After the anchor points, I always start with large areas of color keyed to the average for that mass this helps to unify the shape. I block in all of these shapes covering the complete image. Once these are established to my liking I begin to develop and refine the painting.
I start in the back and design the sky holes moving right to left.
I add some more details and branches to fill out the space and really solidify the anchor points of the larger trees. The fallen tree I was using as a lead in I move to the front of the big tree on the right

I now go back to the color of the emerging foliage. I’m always thinking about rhythm and balance of the different shapes. I want to weave the basic colors of the composition through the painting in a pleasing way.

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.

And Now For Something Completely Different

As many of you already know I started my art career as an illustrator working in science fiction and fantasy. This was back in the mid eighties and before computers were tools for artists. Computer games looked like pong and pacman not like a blockbuster movie.

I still work in games and in Science Fiction and Fantasy and recently had the opportunity to contribute to a book called SciFi Art Now. John Freeman is the editor and has a blog where he is interviewing some of the artists for the book. My interview is here with a link to a download of this step by step demo in .pdf format.

My piece in the book was made digitally using my own photo reference and 3d models and combined and painted in photoshop. For this piece I painted right on the plate (photo) although this isn’t always how I work digitally it is an effective tool to quickly sketch ideas and bring them to completion. The following is the step by step process I used to make Marooned.


I started with a photo I took on a painting trip to the Sierras in Eastern California. The sandstone looked melted and gave me the idea for a crashed spaceship. I got down on the ground to shoot the small sandstone rocks from a worms eye view.


1. I  separated the foreground from the sky into two layers. Using a hard brush, selecting local colors and the eraser tool I began to make the framework of the spaceship.


2. I created a third layer for my figures around a fire and established some color to get the general feel of how it will fit in the scene.

3. Next I painted some walls with portholes to make the ship seem familiar, again using the local colors in the photo to keep the sense of light.


4. I continue to add more hard edges and machine like shapes and establish a horizon line with mountains in the distance.
5. I rough in the figures around the fire on another layer. I paint them all in warm hues so they will stand out against the rest of the scene. I make one figure female and the two sitting figures male to create a subliminal tension for the scene. Next I created a sky gradient on another layer. This will be my basis for the stars and planetoids that come next.
6. I create stars by using the noise filter then selecting a limited color range and copying and flipping the selection. I do this a couple of times adding a layer each time and make a color pass over each version to vary the look of the star field. The last thing I do is go in and hand paint selected stars with the airbrush tool before collapsing the layers back down.


7. I build and light the planetoids in 3ds Max and then import the images on to their own layer in Photoshop. At this point I collapse all of the layers except the figures and fire and then manipulate the colors and values to harmonize the scene. I want everything to be covered in dust to give the sense of the passage of time, unifying the color does this and I choose a color that will compliment the tones in the fire.

8. To finish the painting, I collapse the whole image and adjust the color for the figures and add more detail around them. I work all over the image fixing and adjusting where I think things need it.

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.