Karen Wray Gallery Offers Beginning Art Classes

Courtesy/Karen Wray
Courtesy/Karen Wray
Los Alamos

In September, the Karen Wray Gallery is offering two beginning art classes; oil painting and watercolors. The classes take place in the gallery at 1247 Central Ave., Suite D-2, in Los Alamos.

Several of Wray’s students have their work now featured in the gallery.

Reva Heron: is a featured artist of the gallery. She has been taking classes with Karen Wray since 2014.

“Karen is amazing,” Heron said. “She’s really good at working with your strengths and overcoming your limitations without making you feel like an idiot. She lets you work on what you’re passionate about. She doesn’t expect you to work on Southwest landscapes just because that’s the thing.”

Heron’s paintings on display in the gallery include a tiger and several macros of flowers. One example of a time Wray helped Heron overcome a limitation was when she was trying to paint a portrait of herself at the age of four. She was painting a tiger next to herself, because as a child she loved tigers. But no matter what she tried, she couldn’t get the tiger’s face to look right.

“Karen told me to turn the canvas upside down,” Heron said. Flipping the canvas over helped her shut off the left side of her brain so she could focus on the shapes and colors. “That trick helps me paint what I see, rather than what I think I ought to be seeing. I use it all the time, especially when I’m painting an animal or a person.”

Margaret McIntyre: has several oil paintings in the gallery and has been Wray’s student perhaps longer than anyone else. She started taking lessons in 2010 and drives to Los Alamos from Cochiti Lake twice a week.

McIntyre and a few other artists have been working together with Wray for a long time. She appreciates it because, while there are a lot of artists who live in the Cochiti Lake area, there aren’t any organized classes like the ones she attends at The Karen Wray Gallery.

In the beginning, they learned the fundamentals of creating art and the basic rules. But now it’s more like coaching. The best part?

“Karen always encourages us to not be afraid to try something. In the beginning, I thought ‘I’m not that great of a draftsman,’ so I avoided painting people and animals. The first animal I tried was my cat. I’ve discovered that I like doing animals.”

McIntyre’s oil paintings of cows, a yak and sheep are displayed at the Karen Wray Gallery. From beginner to professional, McIntyre has enjoyed the process.

“It’s like magic,” McIntyre said. “You put paint on a canvas, and it has depth and expression.”

Allen Brown: has participated in art classes and taught watercolor classes at The Karen Wray Gallery.

“It’s been great. Especially during the last four or five years,” he said.

Brown said that in the past several years he has seen a marked increase in his own skill level. 

“After doing it for a long time your brain finally says, ‘I know what’s going on,’” he said.

Brown has seen a lot of artists get stuck in the Twilight Zone of being “just a beginner” and never advancing to a higher level of artistry. However, by working consistently, with the support of Wray and other members of the group, he has seen a lot of progress in his own work.

“This is the part that you enjoy the most … when your brain starts picking up more detail,” he said. “You don’t have to linger over decisions. You just decide what colors go where. Still, when you start a painting there is no guarantee that it will be wonderful. You can’t let that worry you or stop you. There’s an expression that I love, ‘Even Picasso had a wastebasket.’”

Upcoming Art Classes:

  • Beginning Painting in Oils, taught by Karen Wray, starts Saturday, Sept. 23 and runs 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday for eight weeks.
  • Watercolors for Beginners, taught by Allen Brown, starts Wednesday, Sept. 20 and runs 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Wednesday for eight weeks. 

To sign up for one of the classes call 505.660.6382 or email kewray40@comcast.com.

Courtesy/Karen Wray


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