Life Is Too Short To Put Off Doing Things You Love

A scene from one of Karen Wray’s classes at her gallery on Central Avenue. Courtesy photo

Jason Krupp leads a drawing class at the Karen Wray Gallery. Courtesy photo


Have you ever put off doing something that you loved because life somehow got in the way?

That’s what happened to Rachel Pearson, a Los Alamos mom and business owner who loves creating art. Back when she was in college she took a year of drawing. And then during summer break she took an oil painting class in her hometown. 

“Then I got busy with life and only sketched occasionally,” she said. “I meant to start painting again but always put it off, ‘another year’. Then a good friend of mine, Chuck Calef, passed away from cancer in 2021. He was a good friend and also a really good watercolor painter. That’s when I started painting again, as a way to honor his memory but also I realized life is too short to put things off. And then ever since apparently I’m trying to make up for lost time.”

Already an active hiker and cross country skier, it was a simple transition to go outside and start painting the natural beauty surrounding Los Alamos. 

“Anderson overlook is probably my current favorite spot to paint,” said Pearson. She also enjoys doing plein air paintings of landscapes and has already started selling her paintings. 

Her work has been included in a half a dozen juried shows in the Southwest. 

Pearson is looking forward to improving her painting skills by taking a class at the Karen Wray Gallery

“I follow the gallery on Instagram and FB, so I think that’s how I learned about the class,” said Pearson who joined Introduction to Color in Oils, which is one of the classes that will be starting mid-January. 

“I’d like to be able to mix any color I want, especially that elusive shade of fuschia zinnias,” she said, “I also thought it would be nice to get more involved with the local arts community and fun to take an in person class.”

Los Alamos artist Rachel Pearson paints plein air at the Anderson Overlook. Courtesy photo

Rachel Pearson paints outside the WAC Dormitory building in Los Alamos. Courtesy photo

The following are the winter classes that begin the week of Jan. 17 at the Karen Wray Gallery: 

Painting for the Absolute Beginner

Karen E. Wray, Instructor

Saturday mornings, 9:30-12:30, 1/21-3/11/2023 

This class is designed for the absolute beginner and is focused on the basic fundamentals of painting. Oil paint is the chosen medium due to its forgiving and slow-drying nature. Students will learn about the materials, paints, safety, brushes, and surfaces or supports, and how to create the illusion of a 3D form on a 2D surface using values (lights and darks) and simple composition. Students will initially paint simple still life arrangements using only black and white paint, then will add a third color to create a monochromatic painting. Instructor will use demonstrations and discussion, in addition to the student’s hands-on experience to introduce and practice basic concepts. You will never see everyday things the same way again!

Introduction to Color in Oils

Karen E. Wray, Instructor

Thursday mornings, 9:30-12:30, 1/19-3/9/2023 

After completing the Beginning Painting Class described below, students will learn about color theory, using a limited palette of three primary colors plus black and white to learn how to mix secondary and tertiary colors, to tint and shade colors, and mix complementary colors to shade and tone colors. Students will paint color charts and simple still life arrangements.

Expanded Color in Oils

Karen E. Wray, Instructor

Tuesday mornings, 9:30-12:30, 1/17-3/7/2023 

After completing Color 1 Class, students will explore color mixing in more detail using an expanded palette. Focus will be on learning how to mix colors more accurately and with a minimum of pigments, and to mix colors that work in harmony with the rest of the painting. Students will paint color charts and more complex still life arrangements.

Beginning Drawing

Jared Krupp, Instructor

Friday mornings, 9:30-12:30,1/20-3/10/2023

This class introduces students to the fundamentals of drawing. Students will learn how to draw, beginning with the four basic shapes:  spheres, cylinders, cubes, and cones, focusing on shading, proportions, negative space, and aerial and linear perspective.

Continuing Drawing

Jared Krupp, Instructor

Wednesday mornings, 9:30-12:30, 1/18-3/8/2023

This class is geared for students who are interested in refining their drawing skills. Prior experience with basic drawing is highly recommended. 

All classes are held in the gallery space at the Karen Wray Gallery located at 1247 Central Avenue, Suite D-2 in Los Alamos. All classes run eight weeks, three hours/week, and cost $215 plus supplies. Supply lists will be available at registration