Creative Connections Game in the Press

Journalist and award winning photographer Ryan Dunn came to the Creative Connections game and wrote this great article about it below. The original article is published here in the Connections newspaper.

Council for the Arts of Herndon Holds Creative Connection Event
Local artists network at Classical Ballet Theater.

From left -- Herndon resident Tricia Cherrington Ratliff with Council for the Arts of Herndon (CAH) Director Signe Friedrichs. Ryan Dunn

By Ryan Dunn Wednesday, November 20, 201

Saturday, Nov.16, the Council for the Arts of Herndon held a networking event at the Classical Ballet Theater, in the Reston-Herndon Office Park. Wine and light refreshments were served, and the event was open to the public. “We had always planned to hold the event at different venues to highlight the arts venues in Herndon,” said Council for the Arts of Herndon (CAH) Director Signe Friedrichs. “The first of these events was held at ArtSpace Herndon.”

Herndon resident Tricia Cherrington Ratliff assisted in setting up the Creative Connection Event. A local artist, Ratliff was asked by the CAH to make her successful art networking event public. “It began as a gathering of five artists in my studio who came together to show our latest work and get inspiration: Jordan Xu, Vicki Blum, Trisha Adams, Juanita Dahlin and me,” said Ratliff. “We naturally shared business knowledge with each other too.”

During the meeting, everyone has the freedom to share or display their latest project, portfolios, handouts or news. Attendees could participate in the "Creative Connections Game," where participants write labels describing what they do and a goal they are trying to achieve. “There's a kind of collective ‘pay it forward’ attitude that makes the game successful,” said Ratliff. “I had come up with the idea of a game for a Women in Technology networking event many years prior and saw that it would be applicable to this group,” stated Ratliff.

Local artist Vicki Blum brought several paintings with her to display at the Creative Connections Event. photo by Ryan Dunn

Amy Skiavo, resident of Chantilly attended the event with her sister. “My sister Anna Bledsoe volunteers with the Herndon Arts Council, so I came out to support them.” Skiavo enjoys designing jewelry in her spare time and has written for several different comedians before beginning her own career in comedy.

Also attending was Reston resident Kathleen Leatherwood, author of “That Crazy English: Raps and Songs for Teaching English Literacy.” “This is my second time attending this networking event. I heard about this through a friend at ArtSpace Herndon,” said Leatherwood. She is a former ESOL teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.

Reston resident Kathleen Leatherwood, author of “That Crazy English: Raps and Songs for Teaching English Literacy.” Ryan Dunn

Other artists attending the event included Vicki Blum, who brought several paintings with her. “I find this to be an opportunity to speak with other artists and enhance my career. It is a great exchange,” said Blum. Freelance artist Jordan Xu brought several pieces with him. Xu has a painting style that combines classical realism with vibrant colors and broad, casual brushwork. Also attending was professional guitarist Al Robertson, board member of the Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts.

Herndon resident Nancy Rose (center) speaks with local artists and attendees of the Creative Connections Event at the Herndon Classical Ballet Theater. photo by Ryan Dunn

“I am very happy with the event,” said Friedrichs. “As time went on more and more connections were made. This is one of our most satisfying events because it consists of people learning from each other.”

Herndon’s Classical Ballet Theatre of Northern Virginia will be performing the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” this year at Northern Virginia College in Annandale, production dates are Nov. 30-Dec. 1. For more information and to obtain tickets, visit www.cbtnva.org/nutcracker. To learn more about Council for the Arts of Herndon, visit herndonarts.org.

Freelance painter Joradan Xu brought some of his works to display at the November Creative Connections Event. To learn more about the Council for the Arts of Herndon, visit http://herndonarts.org/ photo by Ryan Dunn


Oil Painting and Drawing Lessons in Northern Virginia with Tricia Cherrington Ratliff

Oil Painting and Drawing Lessons 

in Northern Virginia 

Call 703.593.6444

Topics include:
- Solid Foundations in Drawing
- Oil Painting
- Master copies
- Grisialle
- Modeling 3D forms in light
- Color
- Composition
- Still Life
- Plein Air Landscape Painting
- Portrait (advanced)
- Narrative Painting

I teach students to create beautiful, lifelike, realistic drawings and paintings using a combination of time honored classical techniques mixed with contemporary color methods. 

If you study here, your journey will begin with a set of 4 private lessons and a review of your personal artistic goals. As you practice and demonstrate mastery of each new drawing and painting concept you'll graduate at your own pace through each level of the program. At each step, you can move as quickly or slowly as is appropriate for you. 

Call to visit the studio and determine whether these lessons are a good fit for your artistic goals. 


Agile Arts journal by www.TriciaRatliff.com: Atelier in Northern Virginia: Drawing Lessons and Oil Painting Lessons

Agile Arts Atelier is a learning environment customized for students focusing on realist drawing and oil painting. You move at your own pace so if you are a serious student who does a lot of homework, you will progress to a high level of quality. For more information see the post below.

Call for more information 703.593.6444

Agile Arts journal by www.TriciaRatliff.com: Atelier in Northern Virginia: Drawing Lessons and Oil Painting Lessons


Progression of work by Abigail Muncy ( Atelier Student )

Today, I'm featuring the artwork of a student to inspire other students of classical realism. Abigail Muncy has shown complete commitment to her program of learning. She started with basic lessons including an essential overview of the way light behaves on a form.

This was followed by a series of classical drawing copies of originals by Charles Barque. It's inspiring to note that while it can easily take a year to complete this number of drawings, this student's dedication to her homework carried her at a much faster pace and she reached the top level in about 7 months.  

\Once her drawings were exact, we were able to add the skill of a new medium (terra cotta pencil on hand toned paper) to give them an added level of warmth. She also created a couple of white on blue paper which have a strong "cool" feeling (not shown here).

The challenge with these warm tones is that she needed to make some guesses and adjust the value range in order to given them a real and lifelike quality. This level of skill takes time to develop but the results are well worth it.

Having become independent enough to finish the course of Barque studies at home, she began her cast drawings. There are two natural challenges here for a student with her level of experience. First, when drawing from life, old habits from college art classes were very present and she had to unlearn the practice of sketching in heavy forms. Here, she restarted the drawing when she realized she needed to be more precise and block in large areas. It can also be a challenge to make the jump from flat master copies to 3D forms because the eye and body naturally move around revealing different angles and shapes in the form. With her second pass, she quickly recovered by leveraging a lesson on how to find her exact position in front of the easel and cast.

Now she is beginning her first painting work. Fortunately she has taken cell phone photos during her course of study over the last 9 or 10 months. I think students everywhere are lucky to see this detailed progression of another hard working student.

 This looks great doesn't it? Well, it's NOT DONE YET! I hope that fact is inspiring to others. Here, she has done her first pass of color including a base layer of transparent shadows. Now, she has opaque layers of color and little shifts in temperature using her limited palette of colors to give the painting a shimmery "real" feeling. I'll update this post when she's done.


Great NEWS!  The official word is out about the next Creative Connections Game! Can you share this with your friends? 

If you've ever attended a Northern Virginia, Art Jam ... you already know how much fun this is. If you've never participated, you're in for a real treat!


Creative Connection Game
A fun convening of creative minds
Wednesday November 16th @ 7:00pm (until whenever)
Location for be announced!
703.689.9535 (Call if you need more details)
Cost: FREE !! (plenty of free parking) 
Are you energized by creative people? Join us at the next Creative Connections Game sponsored by the Council for the Arts of Herndon. Creatives from all professions gather here for a short night to brainstorm artistic and business ideas, get feedback, swap art and have a great time visiting with each other in an energizing environment. If you’re working on something creative, bring your work in progress, portfolio, laptop, printed material, iPhone photos … whatever it takes to share what you do! 
Who attends?
Visual Artists, Musicians, Dancers, Inventors / Makers, Technologists, Community Leaders, Performers, Designers, Collectors, Illustrators, Teachers, Experts, Gallery Owners, Models, Writers, Curators, Actors, Filmakers, Animators and YOU!
Activities of the Council for the Arts of Herndon are sponsored in part by the Town of Herndon, the Arts Council of Fairfax, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Ruth and Hal Launders Charitable Trust and the Nelson J. and Katherine Friant Post Foundation. The Council for the Arts is a 501 c 3 tax exempt nonprofit organization.


How to fold a paper boat (and other items) for your drawing or painting homework

Beginning students who study here learn drawing techniques to capture edges, mentally measure lines and angles and separate light/shadow patterns to make an object look real - all of this happens in one of their first lessons. They often draw a folded piece of paper as a way to practice the techniques ... the complexity of the folds depends on the experience of each student.

If you're one of my students, I've probably asked you to do a homework project involving paper and suggested you look at this blog for ideas. To inspire interesting homework projects, here are some helpful paper folding links ...

Folding a paper boat -> http://inspirestudy.blogspot.com/2012/07/fun-with-paper-on-fly.html

How about a bird ->

And finally the simplest option ... paper airplanes


New Painting Featured at Broadway Gallery

One of my newest paintings is featured in Broadway Gallery's recent newsletter. I have always enjoyed this clean, open look. So, when I stumbled across these cut cherry blossom branches on a neighbor's sidewalk, I collected them and waited until the first buds opened in order to paint this. I hope this calls up the freshness of spring for you.


Canyon Road Summer Events

Hi Everyone,

I had a great time painting at the historic canyon road paint out ... and check this out ... my photos is featured in the Albuquerque Journal Summer Guide this coming May. Canyon road is one of my favorite places to spend time enjoying great art in the company of people who love the arts. If you visit, please stop by Ventana Fine Art to see my latest work there.


Atelier in Northern Virginia: Art/Drawing Lessons and Oil Painting Lessons

Study Realist Drawing and Painting
Agile Arts Atelier, Northern Virginia
Location: Reston/Herndon


- Drawing & Oil Painting lessons
- Classical and Contemporary Realist Techniques 
- Open to Adults and Teens of any experience level who are dedicated to skill improvement
- Small semi-private group study (no large classes)

Atelier students begin with a series of lessons to establish a strong understanding of light on a solid form, perspective/ellipses, transferred light (glass), complex form, notan/value patterns and the foundations of composition. 

This is followed by copying a series of progressively challenging drawings in charcoal and graphite by great 15th - 18th century artists artists like Titian, Rembrandt and Charles Bargue. During this process, students may leverage additional studio time to explore a variety of materials for drawing and sketching (chalk /cante, charcoal, loose graphite, and monochrome watercolor). 

By next working on 2-5 drawings and paintings from plaster casts and other light monochrome objects students learn to render form in an ideal environment free from confusion about color and movement. Here, subtle temperature shifts in painting can also be approached with only 4 colors (black, white, red and yellow) to create realistic work. 

With a strong foundation of drawing and grisaille paintings, students then work with a limited palette of color on one or two realist still life paintings of non living objects. A variety of primary and secondary colors are added to the palette as the student develops a deeper understanding of color through color studies and glazing projects. 

Throughout the entire course of study, students develop a command of their own materials and techniques, and are able to explain their choices with confidence. They also have opportunities to discover and express their personal narrative as accomplished artists.  

Students are also invited to attend separate workshops on important topics such as: Landscape Painting (Studio and Plein Air) , painting perishables, portrait commissions, composition, figure painting, gesture drawing, florals, working with galleries, business skills, and advanced contemporary color. 


Free Appraisal Day ... the MOST FUN !!

With a passion for art and antiques, Broadway Galleries' appraisal day in April is a fun activity. If you have some interesting object at home and have always wondered what it is ... or what it's worth ... this is your personal antiques road show WITHOUT THE CROWD.

I confess that I'm that person who spontaneously starts cheering or clapping when someone else make an amazing purchase at auction. I think this is even more fun because we all get to learn about our unusual objects, how much they are worth and in some cases how to preserve them. It does take time to wait while everyone gets their object appraised but Ben is so gentle and entertaining that I enjoy every minute of it.

Saturday, April 27th, 1 - 4 pm: FREE Verbal Appraisal Day at Broadway Galleries in Alexandria.

Back by popular demand, Ben Hastings will be offering free verbal appraisals on up to three items per person to include paintings, sculpture, china, icons, and other fine art collectibles. Customers will be seen on a first come, first serve basis.


There are a few different limited palette color combinations I've encountered when creating a duo tone (closed grisaille)

I find it easiest to start the drawing with a raw umber (or burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and white) as an oil sketch on grey ground. Sometimes, if I want to create a composition dominated by warmth, I'll create this sketch in transparent red oxide. Raw umber is cooler so if I need those cool green tones to show up, raw umber is the color of choice.

Then I can build the lit side flesh using a limited palette. Here are some examples of simple pigment combinations that provide a useful temperature range:
- Cadmium red and cad yellow with a little black
- Cadmium red with white only letting the grey show through
- Cadmium Orange, Cad Green Pale, White and a dash of Scarlet 

Later, the intense color can be added. It's useful to create a mini color study of paint directly from the palette (unmixed) to help me see how far I can take it and study the temperature shifts.