May 12, 2013

Workshop with William Wray

I haven't been posting a lot in the last months, but this longer hiatus just now was due to me being on vacation ;-).
I spent 10 wonderful days in the Washington, D.C. area - relaxing, sight-seeing (including the National Gallery in D.C. and a personal tour of the Capitol Building!), meeting up with dear friends... and of course painting.

I took a 3-day workshop with William Wray at the Easton Studio & School. What a great experience! I love William's Urban Landscapes - strong, modern yet timeless, often high contrast of light and dark, often wonderful development of colors. The almost abstract nature of some of his paintings definitely speak to me as well.

So of course I was looking forward to taking this short but intense workshop. William started off with a quick demo explaining how he always looks for and makes use of the fundamental idea of a three-value sketch. By identifying shapes of the same value - light, mid-value and dark - and clustering them together in the primary sketch as well as the first layer of painting, it is much easier to achieve a stong composition as well as good darks and lights. And it helps with staying loose and not getting lost in details..!
We spent the first two days sketching an painting outside, mainly concentrating on those three values. While it definitely did take us 'back to basics', it was such a great exercise and it tought me to START. WITH. SKETCHES. Every time, for every painting. Do it!

So, here's one of the sketches, done plain air. Very basic, three values. If the layout in the sketch doesn't work, it's probably not the best idea to do a painting of the subject - especially not plain air where you have just a limited time to paint before the light changes too much.

And that's what a color sketch would look like - still sticking with the three values (more or less....):

The third day we painted inside the studio from photos - still doing the values sketch and the color sketch before doing the 'actual' painting. Here's my first sketch and the painting from it:

  "Gotham Tower"
5" x 7"

 And the final painting for this workshop - William provided a few photos to paint from, and I just loved the strong composition in this one. It did come together very quickly, so I think all the sketching and 'value observing' of the days before did work out here.

7" x 5"

I really enjoyed the workshop, William's demo, teaching and help, meeting other great artists and last but not least our host Luis. And I'm ready to get painting now!


  1. William Wray is one of my favorite artists. I really like that he is able to break a landscape down into simple shapes and values. You did a great job in getting to these basics. Sounds like a fantastic workshop. I love "Tracks" and look forward to seeing more of your work.

  2. William just shared this post on his Facebook page - hi to everybody stopping by!
    You can also follow me on Facebook:

  3. A great workshop..thanks for sharing the experience!

  4. I would love to have done this workshop! Love William's work! Love yours too.

    1. Thanks, Mary! - The workshop was great, and intense. Three days only, but lots to take away and work with later on. So worth it!


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