Rembrandt Van Rijn up close

I'm sharing this video because some of the close up shots of the paintings show the beautiful variation in paint that is lost in most on-line images. It's very difficult for photos to capture the colorful nuances that make a painting beautiful. So, I always like to keep notes like this when I find images that are close to experiencing the real thing.


"Their Future" ... a painting linked to my future

I'm making baby steps toward those larger paintings with purpose.

Thank you to everyone to came to my exhibit last weekend. For those who didn't make it, here is one of the feature paintings that motivated me to share new work in this private setting. It is a simple narrative painting called "Their Future". I've spent a lot of time thinking about not only the legacy I'll leave to my own grandchildren but the legacy we leave to future generations who will have a great responsibility technologically and scientifically as stewards of an ever changing world. For those who might consider it trite because it's been said before ... consider that sometimes the most common ideas are also those that are enduring. They are enduring for the very reason that deep down we universally know these ideas should be part of our daily decision making processes.

A few years ago, I made a major life decision to give up other pursuits in order to focus on my art in order to eventually leave a legacy of meaningful paintings to future generations. With that decision, I discovered how many great artists have mastered realistic painting techniques and was inspired to pursue the same level of excellence so that my paintings wouldn't lack anything in credibility. I want the focus to be on the art ... without distractions of technical weakness or other issues. That alone it turns out will be an on-going lifetime pursuit.

I noticed back then that many artists were prioritizing meaning (or concept) over technique while others emphasized technique over meaning. I aspired to be an artist who marries the two in my multi-figure narrative paintings ... even while my own work was not yet at a technical level that satisfied me. But it has been a pleasure to see the great things others have been doing (see earlier post).

After years of "talking about it" but not feeling capable yet of accomplishing it, I decided earlier this year that even if I'm not ready, I need to give it a try anyway just to see what's possible now. So, I started simple with the painting above.

Then, when someone forwarded David Gluck and Kate Stone's blog post to me this morning ... I thought "Well, NOW the gauntlet has been thrown down hasn't it? ... no more messing around". =) (LOL)

But Seriously - Thanks David and Kate! I feel that much more motivated to take the next step.



Recently Sold: "Steaming Tea" oil painting by Tricia Cherrington Ratliff

My recent painting called "Steaming Tea" took a short tour before finding it's collector home.

First, this painting was selected as a marketing feature painting for a recent "Something Hot" exhibit in Leesburg. At the time it wasn't varnished because I had just finished it. Then, it came along to Broadway Gallery in Alexandria to be shown during my still life drawing demo ... if you check my profile photo you'll see it hanging above my head during the demo. Shortly after that, it was selected by Ventana Fine Art to exhibit in Santa Fe.

From it's first days, the painting has gotten a lot of attention and many people approached me to share their enjoyment of it. Their responses ranged from the warm feeling it evoked, enjoyment of the flowing steam and curiosity about the technical aspects of painting that hot red. Your responses to the painting have made it that much more special.

So, when I met the collectors who purchased it during the Historic Canyon Road Paint Out, it charmed me to know where it was going. It will hang in one of the homes of a very warm art collector couple here in Santa Fe.

Goodbye Steaming Tea ... I'll miss you but have enjoyed our time together.


Great Days in Santa Fe

The weather in Santa Fe has been AMAZING! It's cold at night but beautiful each day here. A few artist friends and I are hoping for good weather tomorrow because we'll be outside painting in the Historic Canyon Road Paint Out. I also delivered a new painting to the gallery today ... and will share a photo of that in my next newsletter -> http://tricia.fineartstudioonline.com/email-newsletter

This trip has been wonderful. I've been staying in a great adobe home just four blocks from canyon road. Adobe has an insulating quality that catches the daytime sun and keeps the home warm all night. I find this fresh, quiet air so soothing.

Poem: Landscape Painting by Theresa Ann Moore.

Brush strokes with tints, line, and texture
From an artist’s palette willingly surrender
Lending to interpretation of visual conjecture
With inspired mastery they convincingly render

Focus and purpose of intent adhere to the surface
Locking in the impressions of sunlight and shade
Leaves on trees shimmer with coolness beneath…
Near a curving brook that invites an ankle deep wade

Veiling clouds give movement to the atmosphere
A mountain of strength is admiringly proclaimed
Flowering trees bloom and scent the tranquil air
The completed painting will forever stay the same

As the landscape of reality changes day by day
Skies turn to gray and become a menacing threat
Storms with burnishing winds mercilessly obliterate
Streams overflow as trees stand in naked silhouette

Return to the consistency of yesterday’s serenity
Seek the gentle warmth of the season and reminisce
Captured images are sustained within the picture frame
Calming with a tender embrace and a comforting kiss


Historic Canyon Road Paint Out - Looking forward

Historic Canyon Road Paint Out

As the days here in Virginia grow cooler and the weather has drawn us back outside I'm looking forward to flying to New Mexico to participate in the Annual Historic Canyon Road Paint Out for the first time in 2012 and will be painting at Ventana Fine Art.

I'm already thankful to artist friend Wendy Higgins for enthusiastically telling me about this event last year. She describes it as a wonderful day where artists of varied interests all come out together and have a great time creating. It's not a competition but a good old fashioned paint out where anything goes. It's this kind of camaraderie that creates a beautiful balance in the independent lifestyle of many studio artists. While our contemplative life in the studio or daily experience of painting alone "en plein air" affords us plenty of peaceful time that many of us cherish - the bursting dialog of visual ideas is an equally important and stimulating treat.

Come listen with your eyes!

If you're in town, please drop by and see me outside Ventana at 400 Canyon Road. The Fifth Annual Historic Canyon Road Paint out takes place from 10am - 3pm on Saturday October 20th in Santa Fe.

For more information about the event visit the event's webpage:
Fifth Annual Historic Canyon Road Paint Out

To see my latest artwork , learn about upcoming events, private lessons and educational opportunities sign up for my newsletter at: http://tricia.fineartstudioonline.com/email-newsletter and visit my website http://www.triciaratliff.com


Teacher ... What's on Your Palette and why isn't it on the materials list?

I kind of chuckled as I wrote the title to this post.

The previous post led me to the realization that I never give students a straight answer when they ask "What colors are on your palette". The truth is that it changes based on the goal of the painting. But, for the sake of sharing I'm going to write down what I'm thinking when I load up paints and see if it's useful to others.

First, when I'm starting a painting I ask myself if it needs to be hot and bright, subtle grey tones, old master, tight, loose etc.

Then, I decide if I'm going to finish it all in one sitting or work through many layers to get a particular look.

Those considerations determine what I lay out on the palette. I always set out my basic limited palette of 4-5 colors: Alizeron Chrimson, White, Ultramarine Blue, Indian Yellow and sometimes Cadmium Lemon Yellow. From these colors I can create a surprising range of temperatures in a painting with soft tones. I leave space between these colors for others that I might add for another simultaneous painting. Transparent Red Oxide and Thalo blue are often the first to be added because this combo gives me two of each primary. So, if you walk into my studio, you'll see the following.

- White
- Alizeron Crimson
- Transparent Red Oxide
- Indian Yellow
- Cadmium Lemon
- Ultramarine Blue.
- Thalo Blue

Then ... I have some favorites below that I add when the situation calls for them. Usually, the "situation" is something unusual like I want to get some screaming hot pinks, or maybe a little color vibration on a turquoise glass bottle. I might use a variety of reds next to each other if I want to create a shimmery glowing red. Finally, orange, cerulean, naples yellow, purple and kings blue are colors that are quick problem solvers for various situations like quick portrait oil sketches.

- Quinocridone Red or Quinocrdone Magenta (Don't always need Alizeron)
- Napthol Red or Parylene Red (transparent)
- Cadmium Bright Red
- Cadmium Orange
- Cadmium Yellow
- Thalo Green (sometimes Viridian)
- Thalo Turquoise
- Sap Green (I love juxtaposing this with Thalo)
- Cerulean Blue or Kings Blue (if I'm working on a 2 hour portrait sketch)
- Cobalt Blue
- Cobalt Violet (I only seem to use this for quick floral shadows)
- Manganese or Dioxazine Purple (depending on whether I want bluer vs redder)
- Naples Yellow (I've used just this and Trans Red Oxide for dramatic oil sketches)

So, take a look at my palette on any given day and a few pigments from the second list will be added to the first list. Look closely and you'll probably see that selected grouping of color has something to do with the subject of the painting.

The bottom line is that together this is a long list when you really consider that there are twice as many optional colors as there are baseline colors.

The reason I don't mention the great old faithful colors like ivory black, cadmium red deep/dark, cadmium red, yellow ochre, mars yellow, burnt sienna, prussian blue etc. is that with such a wide range of colors in the two lists above, these remaining colors are easy to make or replace. It just never crosses my mind to buy them. For example, transparent orange is a really useful color -> you can mix it almost exactly by using a transparent yellow with parylene red. When I put them on the palette it's usually because I want to use up an old tube that has been patiently waiting in the bottom of the paint box.

That's the most direct answer I can give. If you are a student you are welcome to sit down with this post and my paint box to get a feeling for which paints have been relegated to the crease behind the main compartment ... and why.

Wishing you a fun day of painting!


Experimenting with M Graham Paints ... and still using Walnut Oil

Hello Everyone,

I've been switching over to M Graham paints recently and am loving them. Particularly the yellows and reds.

About two years ago while pregnant I was concerned about fumes (something which frankly have never bothered me ... on the contrary, I find studio smells very welcoming ) because I was painting every day and wanted to be cautious about the baby. So, on the advice of artist/friend Wendy Higgins, I temporarily stopped using OMS and any varnishes, alkyds and mediums to painting exclusively with walnut oil.

That move immediately made some positive changes to my working process as well as the environment in my studio. I started using a dash of OMS again this summer in a cup alongside the oil but have found that I don't use it as often as I used to now that my habits have improved (brush cleaning, paint loading, knife mixing etc.)

Like most artists, I prefer different brands of paints for different pigments/colors. Right now, I'm using fresh new tubes of M Graham's Napthol Red, Aza yellow, Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Orange. I still love my Winsor Newton Cad Red Bright and the colors work very well together. I do like to occasionally dab some pink into my yellow and use very little yellow in my paintings so the quality of that color is really important to me. I haven't settled on an all time favorite Quinocridone (I sometimes use Quinocridone Red or Quinocridone Magenta) but working with such a clean, bright yellow has been helpful.

I haven't gotten into my new tube of cobalt blue (still squeezing the remaining life out of a 5 year old tube of another brand) and will let you know how that goes.

If you're an artist and have any favorite colors, send me a note - I love trying new things.

Oh ... and if you know me personally, you know Transparent Red Oxide has been a favorite for years. That hasn't changed but I have decided not to buy the rembrandt product anymore. Something happened and it seems thinner and weaker now (which kind of defeats the purpose) so I'm finishing up an old tube given to me by a friend if I want it smooth and a tube of Vasari if I like it gritty. When I run out of those it will be time to reassess.


Cedrus Amplexu by Tricia Ratliff recently sold

Some paintings are a simple reflection of beautiful moments in life ... while others carry a deeper meaning. My painting called "Cedrus Amplexu", meaning "Cedar's Embrace" is one of those paintings with hidden meaning. This seems like a good time to share the story of this artwork because it was recently purchased by a collector from Ventana Fine Art in Santa Fe New Mexico.

I miss it already.

We had a warm fall, winter, and spring this year so I enjoyed walking my son to school and pondering life on the walk home before working in the studio each day. One morning, I was looking forward to painting this fabulous antique pot from Germany. It is believed to be 200-250 years old so I wanted to say something about the beauty of it's age. During my morning stroll, I noticed a damaged Juniper branch among a series of large healthy Juniper trees by a local church. Given the symbolism of Juniper, I took a clipping and dreamt about how I'd create the setup along the way. The cool blue berries and warm greens were perfect with the warm tones in the vessel.

The Juniper here represents fresh, young life and protection. Juxtaposed with the old crock, I consider this a subtle reminder for the young to protect and cherish for the old for many reasons; not the least of which is that they are the vessels of family history and collected wisdom that can be gained only through experience. It seemed fitting to paint it using the teachnigues of the old masters. During the Renaissance, Juniper represented not only youth but also purity and protection. I became interested in the meaning of Juniper upon seeing a portrait of Ginevra De' Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci in the National Gallery (Washington DC). Later research revealed that at Christmas, the Juniper branches used in advent wreaths (around the candles) represent the protection of Jesus, Mary and Joseph during their flight to Egypt from Harod in Bethlehem. Notice the series of triangles crossing over each other. The base of the larger Juniper branch is pointing upward and backward while it's newest leaves and berries point slightly forward into the future.

(Here is the Da Vinci painting with Juniper trees in the distant background) 

I enjoyed "Cedrus Amplexu" in our dining room for a few months before we were ready to let it go to be exhibited. Now, it's good to know it will be cherished by someone new. On to the next painting

Painting Alla-Prima: Videos of Rob Liberace and Sherrie McGraw

Below are a series of videos of Rob Liberace and Sherrie McGraw painting. I'm re-posting it here as a reference for my students. To contact me about drawing or oil painting lessons, visit the following website


Cylinder Perspective

Here's a great little video on the basic principles of creating a cylinder in perspective.


A little Plein Air fun

Hi Everyone,

Recently, I enjoyed a little change from studio painting and spent a few days outside Plein Air painting country farms in Virginia. Here is the painting I finished today. The weather was scorching hot but fortunately, I found a breezy hill near a barn overlooking this cute little shed. I instantly fell in love with the tuft of hay falling out of the window and set up to paint for a few hours.


Drawing Lessons / Oil Painting Lessons in Northern Virginia

Recently, I've received many new inquiries about the private lessons and workshops I offer. This seems like a natural time to share some details to help you decide if that classes I offer are a good fit for your artistic goals.

Call 703.593.6444

- Drawing
- Oil Painting
- Realism / Representational Art
- Still Life, Floral, Landscape, Portrait, Figure
- Development of your personal narrative
- Color 

At the Agile Arts Atelier, there are two main learning tracks. Each is tailored for your needs.

Professional Skill Development Track 
This track is most appropriate for students who are working to develop outstanding realistic drawing and painting skills. By learning both classical and contemporary realist methods students are enabled to develop their own artistic voice within the genre. First year studies begin with a disciplined drawing approach. This transitions into monochrome painting which leads to limited palette painting and the use of contemporary "high key" colorist oil painting methods with a focus on narrative composition.  (Includes homework assignments) Tuition begins at $50/hour and students graduate to learning groups which are $50/day plus free studio time outside of class for those in advanced standing.

"Paint-Along" or "Draw-Along" Track
The "Paint-Along" or "Draw Along" learning track is for artists of any experience level who enjoy drawing or painting  as a hobby and want to continue growing their skills by seeing a side-by-side demonstration each week. This learning approach is a great way to gain studio experience,  have fun, learn useful new tips and get hands-on help to create finished drawings and paintings every time. (Homework is not required.) Tuition is $50/hour.

Note: Both tracks begin with a private assessment with the teaching artist followed by a series of 5 private drawing lessons. After completing this short "intensive" series, students meet with the instructor to review goals and select the most appropriate path for your needs. Call to schedule your visit.  

Call 703.593.6444 for a free private assessment.   


Bargue Drawing Copies

With a handful of new students coming into the Agile Arts Atelier, this seems like a good time to post videos like the one below showing the construction of a Bargue drawing copy.  In addition to what you've learned in our lessons about materials, measuring lines and angles, plumb lines, simplifying the form, blocking etc. you might watch this video to get a sense of how gently and slowly to approach your drawings.


(Classes, Workshops and Private Study opportunities) 

Drawing and Oil Painting Lessons with Tricia Cherrington Ratliff 
Call the number below for more information. I like to speak with each student individually to understand your artistic goals so that we can figure out together which learning options are the best fit for your needs. 

All ages and experience levels
Location: Reston / Herndon, Virginia

- Drawing
- Oil Painting
- Still Life
- Portrait / Figure
- Landscape
- Florals

Private Lessons and Small Group Classes available for all ages and experience levels. Learn both classical and contemporary methods of drawing and painting. Students learn to paint everything from still life to people wearing shimmering jewelry, fur, velvet, diamonds, gold, satin etc.

Professional career track lessons also available !


Danni Dawson Color Study Demo

In an earlier blog post, I collected and shared a few online videos of Henri Henche style color studies. Here, Danni Dawson offers a useful demonstration on video of Henche style color study with a slightly different approach. Having studied with Danni, I think her approach is useful because you can easily see the translation of how one might use color study skills in the development of an alla prima portrait.

These studies not only help us learn how to find color and temperature, the experience of transitioning or mixing color right on the canvas creates a sort of "flickering" of colors because they are subtly juxtaposed within the mixing area. Here, little flecks of the "blue" on the shade side of the head probably show through the painting in real life creating a visual vibration (these subtle shifts hardly show up in a video or photos but are beautiful to the naked eye).



Capturing Life in the Studio

Studio life is an open ended poem of constantly changing opportunities, ideas and input. Sometimes it is interesting to see how paintings develop. This history of my latest painting of peonies illustrates the creative process nicely.

My upcoming e-mail newsletter will be about the unfolding of my latest painting. Here are a few images to give you an idea ... but read the next article because this is only a section of a much larger painting.

This painting will appear on my website when it's finished. If you have the opportunity to see it in person, you'll also get to see the artist's journal entry on the open page of the book within the painting. Aren't you curious?


Useful Demo by Douglas Flynt

Here is a useful demo illustrating the way he uses a precisely defined underdrawing followed by an open grisaille and then ebauche (limited color) to beautifully capture a real image. The reason this is useful to learners is that here he is employing techniques taught to atelier students during their second step painting projects.


It's so great to see these resources online.


ART: Drawing / Painting Lessons in Northern Virginia ( Reston / Herndon / Great Falls)

ART in Northern Virginia 

Learn realistic drawing and oil painting methods of the old masters and contemporary realists with Tricia Cherrington Ratliff.

Call 703.593.6444
$50/hour (private lessons)
Weeknights & Weekdays
Convenient Reston/Herndon location

- Drawing
- Oil Painting

- Landscape
- Still Life
- Figure
- Florals
- Portrait

- Color Study (and Key Light painting)
- "Paint-a-long" mentoring on personal projects

Also Available: Classical French Atelier Methods: 
In addition to regular american style lessons, Tricia offers a professional course of study specifically designed for career artists. This approach was used in early french ateliers and later in realist schools in florence today (heart of the renaissance).

Beginning with a series of structured drawing lessons artists gain a stronger ability to handle light, form, gesture, movement and perspective as it relates to painting. As earlier projects are completed, students graduate through increasingly difficult painting projects at their own pace beginning with complex form painting, initial limited palette color handling and eventually advanced color theory. A typical schedule includes at least 2 lessons per week (3 hours each) with additional studio time and homework. By the completion of this extended of study, graduates are able to create and sell finished, gallery quality, realistic works of art.  Apprenticeship option available.


Recently Delivered to Broadway Gallery

5641 B General Washington Drive - Alexandria, Virginia 22312 Hello Everyone,

I have been delivering new paintings to Broadway Gallery in Alexandria Virginia including these two 18x24 florals which arrived yesterday as part of the upcoming spring floral show.  The paintings will eventually be shown on their website but are available now to see in person before the official show begins.

You can reach the gallery at 703.354.2905 or by clicking on the link above.


Recently Sold and Just Delivered: "Nostalgia"

My painting "Nostalgia" that appeared in the 2010 Elan Magazine article recently sold.

As a special treat for his wife, the collector asked me to deliver it as a surprise on her birthday. Tonight, I had the exhilarating pleasure of delivering it to his wife Carolyn along with a personal letter explaining the symbolism of the painting (which is about the perspective of a woman as she thinks over the time of her marriage. )

Carolyn's husband Mike carefully selected this because he wanted to surprise her with something meaningful. He immediately saw a connection between the doll sized dress form in the painting and a doll his wife cherishes. I was so pleased that she pulled out this doll explaining that she's "not an objects person" but remembers this doll nostalgically from her childhood. I love the fact that in addition to learning what the artist intended, they also brought their own meaning to the painting as a couple !


Tricia Cherrington-Ratliff represented by Ventana Fine Art in Santa Fe

Hello Everyone,

I'm excited to announce that my paintings are now exhibited at Ventana Fine Art gallery at 400 Canyon Road, Santa Fe New Mexico. You can now see my paintings featured on their website below:


We love New Mexico and visit multiple times per year. Our most recent holiday included fun excursions to the mountains, historic towns and an exciting week in Santa Fe visiting the galleries that we love.

Ventana is a selective gallery that carries the work of some famous painters so I am both humbled and honored to be among their artists. The piece below called "Reaching" an 18x24 oil painting will immediately be available along with my other paintings at Ventana. The other paintings will be pictured in upcoming posts. If you or anyone you know visits Santa Fe, I would be thrilled to hear that you stopped by to see the work.

I have also recently switched to a new website and hope you'll visit http://www.TriciaRatliff.com/

To get early updates and see images fresh off the easel, sign up for my newsletter: http://tricia.fineartstudioonline.com/email-newsletter

First Lesson Drawing Tutorial ... see Julia's version!

Hey Students!  I can't believe I just stumbled across this. Take a look. It's so nice to see a sphere drawing tutorial on-line that mentions both the importance of the terminator along with the graduation of the half tone on the lit side of the object. If you've taken my drawing class and this looks familiar ... bravo!

Take a look. Thanks to Julia for posting and for taking the time to create the corresponding images!!



Must See Principle Gallery Exhibit: The Expedition and Beyond

The Three Fates, 30"x40", oil on panel, by (c) Terry Strickland
The Women Painting Women (WPW) blog started out as a research project by Sadie Valeri that engaged the interest and support of Alia El-Bermani and Diane Feissel. Now, Terry Strickland's painting called "The Three Fates" (to the right) captures these women as architects of something greater than themselves. It also gives us insight that we may be audience to an important point in art history. But WPW has also already outgrown it's original blueprint. It has become a story of collaboration and unexpected community with many surprises as the events unfold. 

One major moment in this story was when twelve of these talented women came together for a 2010 figure painting retreat in Charleston, South Carolina. They lived and painted together for a week while their work was exhibited nearby at the "Women Painting Women" show of over 40 female painters at Robert Lange Studios. Given that most of these women didn't know each other before the journey makes this story even more compelling. (read Sadie Valeri's account of it here with blog posts by other participating artists at the end) 

Alia describes the week with awe: "I don't think any of us expected how profoundly we would be impacted by the expedition." Diane adds, "The different things that we each took away from the experience run the gamut." 

Alia explains that she was personally moved by meeting other artists she respects, including Catherine Prescott who, like Alia, is married to another artist. "Seeing how she has thrived, illustrated for me that a life in art is not a short-lived thing. It is sustainable! Art and life are experienced together over a lifetime." This wisdom gave Alia confidence that in her later years, she will still be just as passionate as she is now about creating and being around art with the people she loves.

You need only look at the feelings of quiet isolation reflected in Alia's painting called "Space Between"   (an image of a solo woman sitting quietly, hands folded, wearing white in a window showing the cool and empty winter landscape outside ) to understand how important these personal changes and connections are to an artist.

In addition to their profound discoveries, these women also enjoyed simple shifts that can influence an artists' work. For example, Diane Feissel reports that "One artist discovered her love of oysters on the trip and has completed many paintings about oysters since."

Where’s the Tabasco? 12″ x 16″ oil by Cindy Procious
You'll see this range of influences in the current exhibit at Principle Gallery, 208 King street in Alexandria, Virginia. The opening reception is Friday April 13th, 2012 from 6:30-9:00pm. The exhibit continues through May 15th. "The Expedition And Beyond" A Group Show of Thirteen Women Artists (click here to purchase the catalog) is a unique and one time opportunity to see the art these participants have created as a result of their experiences together. As the show's subtitle explains "these artists continue to be challenged and inspired by each other".

So, this is more than just an exhibit.  

The complex web or artistic influences and interactions among artists is often invisible to outside observers. Yet, we can sense that something special has occurred. This is your opportunity to be audience to this important unfolding story. The personal connections between these artists is just as exciting as the work itself. When Sadie Valeri began exploring the impressive art of female painters, she couldn't have imagined what was going to happen next ... so none of us can predict where this will lead.

At least we are fortunate to recognize a little piece of artistic history as it happens. 

Participating Artists:

Alexandra Tyng – Narberth, PA
Alia El-Bermani – Cary, NC
Catherine Prescott – Harrisburg, PA
Cindy Procious – Chattanooga, TN
Diane Feissel – Philadelphia,
Linda Tracey Brandon – Phoenix, AZ
Mia Bergeron – Chattanooga, TN
Rachel Constantine – Philadelphia, PA
Sadie Valeri – San Francisco, CA
Stefani Tewes–Laguna Beach, CA
Terry Strickland- Pelham, AL
Katherine Stone – Duncan, BC
Shannon Runquist, Charleston, SC

Catalog available: http://www.matterdeeppublishing.com/books/the-expedition-beyond


New Paintings - Recently delivered

Hello Everyone,

What a wonderful spring we are having here ... Trees of all kinds bursting with blooms at the same time, bulbs producing abundant daffodils, crocus', tulips and other varieties. I don't think I've ever seen so much color coming out all at once. Best wishes to all of my photographer friends who will surely be out this weekend!

In more personal news, I have a series of new paintings in progress and recently delivered the 2 below to Broadway Gallery in Alexandria ... and will be delivering more soon. These and other new paintings are always shared *first* on my newsletter (register here).

Bachelors Cottage
by Tricia Cherrington Ratliff
11x14 Oil on Canvas 

Eucalyptus Morning
by Tricia Cherrington Ratliff
16x20 oil on linen

In addition to these, some of my larger paintings will be in the Broadway gallery spring floral show. Keep an eye out for those!


ART NEWS: Open Studio in Fairfax Virginia - Adam Lister Gallery

Calling all area artists seeking working studio space on a flexible basis! Adam lister gallery is now offering an Open Studio. Visit the following link for details *and* you can register on line!



New session: March 1 - April 5, 2012
Location: Adam Lister Gallery

The Open Studio Group is designed for artists of any level, working in any medium. This group offers time, workspace and a creative environment for anyone interested in making art and being around other working artists.  Bring any materials and supplies that you want to work with, and we provide tables, chairs, and plenty of space to spread out and make your art.  Individual and group critiques will be available to those that are interested.  All group participants are allowed to leave their works in progress in the gallery storage area.  The group director will be on hand throughout the open studio time for suggestions, guidance and technical advice if needed.

All group participants will be invited to exhibit some of their artwork in a group show here in the gallery at the end of the session.  

Group Director: Adam Lister

For ages: 18 & up

Fee: $120

Space is limited, so register early.

T# 646.263.7305


Robert Johnson Workshop - photos of demonstation

Update: Here is Robert Johnson's Newest Video from August 2012 of his beautiful paintings. I'm sharing it here as painting inspiration.

Some artist friends and I decided to enjoy a long weekend of painting together at Robert Johnson's workshop in Leesburg. I enjoy his workshops because he knows how to get artists in the mood to paint, enjoy every brushstroke and try new things.
Bob spent about 30 minutes quietly creating his setup and started painting right on time with a description of the block in and how he likes for each stage to be artistic. In a setup, look for opportunities to include variety (or polarity) in: Texture, Value, Size, Shapes, Intensity of color and even direction. He didn't mention this but I'll just pass along that it's important to emphasize variety if you want you paintings to have an organic quality. You can use less variety to create a colder, more mechanical feeling.

He talked about his canvas preparation as well. He prefers double lead primed linen from New York Central Art Supply (in Soho New York City) mounted onto gatorboard with miracle muck. (For what it's worth, you can also get some awesome triple primed rabbit skin glue portrait linen from the art league store in Alexandria Virginia ... I buy that and have it dry mounted on archival foam core for travel panels) Roll it flat with a brasier to make sure there are no bubbles. Pile the panels on top of each other with a weight and let them dry 24 hours - then trim off the extra canvas that hangs over the edges with a sharp exacto knife. Or ... you can just buy them pre-made from Windriver.

During this block in stage, he used the standard "light touch" method of picking up the lit areas with a cloth. He selected one sharp lit area of particular interest along the top edge of the silver jug and wet his brush with a dab of gambol to erase a nice edge along that area. Notice that he did *not* paint the handle of the silver jug. It turns out that he likes to leave that for later so that he doesn't have to cut in the background around such a specific shape. He simply said - I'll paint the handle in later. (It was almost the last thing he did).

After the block in, he says he lets the painting lead him. He mixed up some background color with Transparent red oxide, ultramarine and a dab of indian yellow (or naples yellow) with white. (I've also seen people do this with white, Thalo blue or green and burnt umber) The idea is to make a warm mid tone grey so that you can easily cut back into finished areas later without feeling like you'll ruin the background. Why didn't I think of that? I've always done it the hard way (lol).

From there, he did something I think was really important to notice but he didn't actually talk about it. He took some of that "atmosphere" color and knocked it into the sides of the silver put where it appeared and he would use it later.

From there he added the light on the silver and enjoyed working on that to get the values and rounded out of the shape.

With that subject taken care of, he jumped into the strongest color in the roses and pears. Whenever they didn't seem lit enough, he darkened the darks to avoid adding white to the lits which would dull the color of the fruit and flowers.

Leaves: Although everything is important, Bob explained that he is more concerned with value than exact color and temperature at this point. This really shows up in the way his leaves are resolved. He darkened the darkest leaves with cool green and added cool red (like alizeron or quinocridone) in the veins. Then he gave most of his attention to picking out a few, beautiful lit leaves to give them life. He often cautions people not to short change leaves. They should be given as much respect as the flowers. Leaves may seem similar but rather than repeating patterns, look for variations and emphasize those. 

At this point I should probably mention that it's MUCH better to actually attend a Robert Johnson demo/workshop than to rely on my random notes. I am only writing the little tiny bit of superficial step by step information that I can remember off the top of my head. The real value in what he teaches is actually something you can only pick up by being there.

The RUG: The rug was handled much like the other objects. He doesn't let the actual pattern in the textiles dictate the outcome of his painting, he uses what he needs for the purpose of a better painting and just paints that. Notice how he uses exaggerated perspective as lines along the far edges (i.e. farther back) are thinner and closer together and the ones up front are fatter and larger.

An important learning point that I took away was that he paints objects in the direction of the object but he paints planes like the table/rug in the direction of the light. Notice how the brushwork is dragged across the canvas from left to right.

Notice all of the brush angles in the photos of Bob painting. The key to these beautiful paintings is in each persona's own technique of brushwork. Bob holds his brush delicately, often applying paint without the brush (i.e. only the paint) touching the canvas. This creates nice globs of organic looking texture as he changes the angle, direction and pressure on the brush (I think they were almost all long bristle filberts but he also showed us a soft, flat mongoose by rosemary brush company that he likes using).

Normally, I wouldn't add so many "basics" to a blog post but I've been noticing on my blog stats that with over 2500 hits a month, about 1/4 of readers are spending most of your time in these "how to" posts. New students have also been calling me to learn the basics. Because I have cut back my teaching schedule to a couple of workshops a year and teaching private lessons in order to spend time painting ... those calls alerted me that I need to do a better job of explaining not only what I  think is unique in these workshops but also some of the basics that we all need to constantly review.

Hope this post was better for you and not too cluttered!

Do me a favor and drop me a line if you found any of this useful. I write these posts for my own use (so that I have electronic notes and photos) but I take time to add details in hopes that other people will benefit. If I know one or two of you are getting value out of them, then I know the extra effort is worthwhile.

Here is a video intro to one of his demo videos:

This weekend, my friends and I were all working on different things in this workshop. I specifically realized my own need to let the quality and texture of the paint reveal the way light trickles across an organic object. I also appreciated what Rob said about learning as much as possible while giving respect to your own personal aesthetic. It's nice to hear this recognition from someone who has such a specific and beautiful style of his own. For example, he prefers things lit naturally from above and to the side which I think gives a calming effect. Sometimes, I like to dramatize things with unusually low lighting, obscured light or even (rarely) I like multiple temperatures of light hitting from different directions.

That said ... for the purpose of getting as much as possible out of any workshop, I try to spend some time practicing within the teachers' aesthetic or approach to make sure I'm getting it. Then, on the second or last day I also like to spend some of time experimenting with things I've been wanting to try ... just to see how to incorporate the new learning with paintings I would probably do on my own later. This experimentation might sometimes seem to the teacher that the student is going off track but in Bob's case, he understood our need to experiment as an essential step in personal learning. The result: The first time I took one of Bob's workshops, a couple of friends saw the paintings I finished in his workshop and immediately said "Robert Johnson". One friend asked assumed I had purchased his demo and the other asked if I copied one of his paintings. Laughing out loud, I explained that I learn best by letting go of earlier ideas whenever I study with someone ... but we all need to let our own voice out too.  So this time around, I took that learning a step further. I used his direction for the setups but incorporated different learning points into paintings that were in the direction I am personally going as a painter. I worked on two totally different still life paintings of similar subjects and had a great time!

He has made a number of videos so I'm including short clips here just for fun:


Artists-on-Art Magazine ... worth your attention

I was so pleased to learn from Daniel Keys about the new on-line magazine called Artists-on-Art.


Take a look. This is what an on-line magazine today should be.

- Focused on content
- A balanced mix of informative and inspiring articles
- Clean and uncluttered with visually pleasing layout (this is a welcome relief)
- High quality images
- Easy navigation between on-line articles using hypertext
- Option to download pdf version for off-line reading is also very useful
- Editors embracing opportunities for other media like videos and reader commentary
- Priced accordingly

Artists on Art is fortunately focused on peer to peer content rather than heavy advertising because the business model isn't burdened by the high cost or risk of producing and shipping printed copies. If they continue with the same quality and continue to expand the use of different media (video, reader comments, cross links, slideshows etc.), then I look  forward to future issues! 


John Ebersberger Workshop Recap

Here is a useful recap of a Henre Henche style color study workshop written by Ed Terpening and automatically reposted here using his blogger repost button. It's also exciting to see that the Cape Cod School is being revitalized. For more information about new classes starting THIS SUMMER 2012, visit their website: http://www.capeschoolofart.com/

John Ebersberger Workshop Recap

I  (Ed Terpening) studied with John Ebersberger this week at l’Atelier aux Couleurs: the Art Academy.
John’s a great teacher, full of energy, enthusiasm, and most of all, knowledge.  He is from the “Hensche School” painting method, whose lineage goes backward from Henry Hensche (John’s teacher and Hawthorne’s assistant), to Charles Webster Hawthorne (Chase’s assistant) to William Merritt Chase. The main ideas of this school of painting (which is really more of method of seeing) is that 1) form can be modeled with color variation; 2) painting in outdoor light; 3) outdoor light/conditions introduce a “light key” that must be represented (eg, from an overcast day to a full sun day).  To give you a practical example of how the school’s differ, a tonalist would mix a shadow color, then add white and a bit of yellow to show the sunlit side, whereas a Hensche colorist would see each color as a completely distinct mix. So while a Hensche colorist may turn a form with color and temperature changes, a tonalist (or “value painter”) may do so with value alone (the range of values from black to white).
I’ve studied this method under Camille Przewodek as well, and can tell you Henche’s method is not a “one workshop thing”.  This is my 3rd, and I feel I’mstarting to get it.  It takes years of study and practice, and although Camille has applied the technique to plein air painting, I think it’s best learned with outdoor still life study.  In fact, if you study with her, you’ll probably spend most of your time painting colored blocks in outdoor light.  Sounds boring, but believe me, it’s more challenging than you may realize. In a still life, you can practice with objects and light conditions that are highly varied.
To learn more about this school of painting, I recommend joining John’s Facebook group on Hensche, and not bothering too much with the Hensche Foundation website, which does not present his best work and looks quite stale.
Here are some of my and John’s studies, along with commentary. I hope you find them useful!  If you’ve studied this technique as well, chime in with your feedback by entering a comment on this post.

John Ebersberger Images

As you can see, John paints with a full spectrum palette of color.  If you’re interested in the specific colors, let me know in comments and I’ll list them out [see the update below, all his colors and the brand of paints he uses are listed at the end of this post].
John Ebersberger Palette
John Ebersberger Palette
Isn’t this a beautiful start?  I missed most of this demo, but was able to capture the end of the start, and where he started to work on refining the large pot.  The sides of the pot and the cast shadow on the table are being refined with warm/cool note differences, but he started the pot just as he did the apple, as simply a light and shadow note.
John Ebersberger Still Life Demo (start)
John Ebersberger Still Life Demo (start)
I have a video of this on my previous blog post, step-by-step.  Notice how the shaded side of the head holds together well, even though there is variation between the hair and skin (the lit side, too).  He emphasized this often, that you hold to the large relationships first (figure to background) before you start color variations, and eventually detail.
John Ebersberger Figure Study Start
John Ebersberger Figure Study Start

Ed Terpening Images

This was my first attempt of the week.  I didn’t have time to finish it, but I’m happy with the start.  I do think my shadow notes are dark dark, and I started to work lighter color into them (you can see the darker beneath).  I’d also just started to model the blue pitcher and the pear.  Notice that I’ve left white space between each color note.  This can be confusing at this stage of the painting, but it’s important because it allows me to continually adjust color spots and relationships throughout the painting.  If you bring the color spots together too soon, and need to adjust later, you’ll risk creating mud and maybe creating a type of edge that you may not want.
Still Life Study 1, Unfinished  (Ed Terpening)
Still Life Study 1, Unfinished (Ed Terpening)
I was really happy with this figure study, probably my best of the week!  John took a photo too, as he’s collecting examples of studies for his website.  I had time (about 2 hours) to get the relationship between figure (face) and background, and just started modeling the hair and forehead.  Wish I could have finished this one.
FIgure Study 1 (unfinished)
FIgure Study 1 (unfinished)
Here’s another start from later in the week.
Figure Study 2 (unfinished)
Figure Study 2 (unfinished)
UPDATE [July 15, 2009]: I heard back from John, and he’s happy to share both his palette, and his favorite brands of colors too!  Here’s what he wrote me:
Color List
1. Titanium white
2. Cadmium lemon yellow (or light)
3. Cadmium yellow medium
4. Cad. Orange
5. Cad. Scarlet (or scarlet lake) — A must for outdoor work (see specific colors listed below, you may also explore reds made with napthol and perylene).
6. Cad. Red deep
7. Permanent Rose (or quinocridone red)
8. Dioxazine Purple
9. Ultramarine blue
11. Cerulean Blue
12. Permanent Green Light
13. Viridian Green
Earth colors:
1. Yellow Ochre
2. Indian Yellow
3. Burnt Sienna
4. Indian Red, Light Red, or Mars Red
Any paint brand is fine to start out with, you will find what works best for you. Ultimately you want to learn what pigments you are using. Some are right in the name – Cadmium yellow is made from cadmium pigment. Some are not in the name, for instance Winsor Newton’s Permanent Rose is actually a quinocridone pigment.
Regarding less expensive student brands of paint – when colors are named things like Cadmium red hue, or cerulean blue hue, the pigment is not what is stated in the name – this is not necessarily bad, as some of these pigments are useful. For instance the Cad. red hue may be a napthol, a color with strong tinting strength – and the cerulean hue may be a pthalo, a color with strong tinting capability.
Usually I like a warmer and cooler version of each of the primaries and green. Also a small range of earth tones is helpful.
Here is a color list with brand names that I like to use:
1. The Blockx Cadmium Yellows are terrific for use with palette knife. I use Blockx Cad. Yellow Pale, Cad. Yellow Medium, and Cad. Yellow Deep. When using a brush, I prefer the Rembrandt line of yellows because they are more fluid.
2. Winsor Newton, Cad. Orange (Rembrandt, when using brush)
3. Blockx, Cadmium Red Orange – the brightest red available, on the orange side, similar to cad. Scarlet (a bit thick for use with brush, especially in winter).
4. Old Holland, Scarlet Lake Extra – a beautiful transparent red
5. Gamblin, Napthol Red – the brightest red pigment (made by other companies under different names. Gamblin also makes a Napthol Scarlet, which I haven‘t tried yet)
6. Winsor Newton Cad. Red Deep – not bright, but you don’t always want bright. Almost a cool earth note.
7. Permanent Rose, Winsor Newton (Gamblin, Quinocridone Red)
8. Either Sennilier Permanent Violet, Gamblin Dioxine Purple, or Old Holland, Bright Purple. Also try any of the variety of quinocridone pigmented oils. I still pine for the old Rembrt. Perm Violet and Red Violet!
9. Blue – Still experimenting with brands- right now I use the Rembrandt line – Ultramarine, Cobalt, and Cerulean. I also recommend Manganese Blue Hue by just about anybody, but Gamblin is probably the best deal.
10. Viridian – Rembrandt (have not tried too many others. WN, too stiff.)
11. Winsor Newton, Permanent Green Light, and Cad. Green Pale
12. “Sevres” Green is nice (Blockx makes a good one), or Winsor Green by Winsor Newton. (they might still make Winsor Emerald too)
13. Sometimes I use Rembrandt, Chromium Green Oxide (indoor work, and winter and gray day keys)
14. Burnt Sienna (Rembrandt for brush work. Try Blockx Burnt Sienna Deep too – a very “cool“ brown.)
15. Rembrandt, Indian Red -
16. Old Holland, Mars Red-Orange or Blockx, Light Red
17. Winsor Newton, Raw Sienna (I’m sure other brands are fine as well
18. Blockx, Yellow Ochre, for palette knife. Rembrandt for brush.
19. Winsor Newton, Indian Yellow (you might also try Gamblin Transparent Orange)
20. White – Gamblin Titanium White. Blockx is excellent as well, but a little stiff for brush work right out of the tube.
21. I almost forgot!! Rembrandt Turquoise and Winsor Newton’s Indian Yellow – two indispensable colors.