Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 3 - Plein-Air Painting Workshop with Niki Gulley, New Mexico

6x12 acrylic demo by Niki Gullley
Plein Air Painting & Photography Workshop in Santa Fe, NM
Day 3, location: Ghost Ranch

On Day 3 of our Santa Fe workshop, we headed to Georgia O'Keefe's home and painted at the gorgeous Ghost Ranch. Between the striking rock formations, the beauty and uniqueness of the stark desert landscape, the perfectly formed white puffy clouds, and the pure quality of the light on everything in sight, it was challenging to narrow down a subject. But, I promised my acrylic painters that I'd do an acrylic demo for them, so I quickly chose this mountainside with the morning light creating brilliant peach and adobe colored highlights, contrasted against a turquoise-blue sky. The landscape was so wide and open, a panorama format seemed to work best for this scene.

While working with the acrylics were tricky due to their quick drying time, it was also far easier to avoid colors getting muddy from overworking the paint in oils. I just had to squeeze out less paint and more often than I do with oils. Establishing the major shapes and colors, then blocking in the darks, and lastly the highlights, I quickly sketched the scene for the group. Working with my largest brushes first for speed and continuity, and then moving into smaller ones for details. The left side of the scene needed something for balance, so I demonstrated how to paint this snarly cactus. With another half hour, I could have completed the scene but I wanted to get our group started on their paintings before the soft morning light was gone.

And, look at the results! Some of our students and their wonderful paintings at Ghost Ranch.

If you'd like more information on our upcoming
Plein-Air Painting & Photography Workshops, please e-mail me at Niki Gulley,
or visit my website at
To see more of my contemporary impressionistic landscape paintings, go to,
or to purchase this plein air study from Santa Fe, e-mail me at Niki Gulley.

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