Karen Wray Fine Art has a new home at 166 East Gate Dr. in Los Alamos. Wray closed her Gallery on Central Avenue in October. “It was just not economically viable,” Wray said. “The number of art buyers in town is too small and tourism just isn’t off the ground yet.”
Student works on oil painting in Karen Wray art class. Courtesy/Karen Wray Fine Art
Wray decided to change direction and move away from the retail side to a space where she could offer her popular classes and have occasional shows as well as house her own studio.
“I fell in love with this space,” Wray said during an interview at her new digs. “The new location is spacious, with a large room for classes and shows as well as ample storage and office space. The large number of windows makes the class area light and airy – perfect for classes and for Wray’s own work in the studio.
The location’s main attraction, however, is the spectacular view. The new space is located on the canyon and sports a gorgeous view of mountains and mesas, despite its industrial park setting.
“When the weather is warm, the classes will be able to go outside and paint,” Wray said.
Wray has a new series of classes beginning in the first week in February. She has recruited three other local artists to join her as instructors. Melissa Bartlett will teach Creative Color and Dynamic Design 1-3 p.m. Mondays. Janice Parker Muir will teach Pastel Painting 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays and Alan Brown will teach Watercolor Painting 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Wray herself will teach two classes in oil painting 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays and 6-8:30 p.m. Thursdays.
Wray is holding an “Art Class Test Drive” 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan 25 to kick off the new class session. “It’s a chance for potential students to try out the mediums, talk to the instructors and check out the studio,” Wray said. “Students may know they want to take an art class, but have no idea which medium they want to try.”
It all depends on what you like, Wray said. Some students love the way a particular medium looks and want to do it themselves. For others, it’s about enjoying a particular technique more than others. Artists often find that a particular medium suits their personality best, she said.
Bartlett’s class is suitable for any kind of visual artist, not just painters. She will help students learn how colors interact and how to mix colors, as well as how to create dynamic neutral shades to complement their brighter shades. Bartlett will also focus on designing a work of art so that the viewer’s eyes have a path to follow and also places to rest, Wray said.
Muir works in a number of different mediums, In addition to her many other achievements; she has been published in The Pastel Journal top 100 twice where she took a second Place and an Award of Merit. Her paintings hang in many corporate and private collections. Muir has many years of experience as an art teacher.
Brown started making art at a young age, inspired by his father, an accomplished oil painter. He has lived in Los Alamos since 1974 and spent several years as a student with watercolorist Jan Hart. The emphasis of his class will be on traditional landscapes as topics, as well as traditional methods and materials.
Wray is an accomplished oil painter. She has concentrated on art full time since 1994. She comes from a family of artists. Her grandfather and father painted oils and her mother is a watercolorist. She loves teaching students how to “see” as an artist.
“When a student learns to really see, it’s like they’re using their eyes for the first time,” she said. Her beginning students start by painting a still life, Wray said. “It’s a good way to learn about form.” Students will learn how to make an object appear three-dimensional.
Wray said that although oil painting has a reputation of being difficult, it has a real advantage for beginners. “If you don’t like it, you can just wipe it off and start over,” she said.
All of the upcoming classes are suitable for absolute beginners and also for experienced artists, Wray said. Instructors will work with students individually, starting from their skill level. “It’s not a competitive atmosphere,” she said.
Wray urges beginners to overcome their hesitation and give one of the classes a try. “One great thing about being a beginner is that you don’t have any bad habits!” she said.