Northeast Art Getaway

This spring I figured I’d get out of the studio and away from my hectic corporate life with two missions, get inspired by the magnificent playground God has created for us with an artist eye. Secondly, get my yearly itch for art workshops and artist networking scratched real good early in the year to give me juice for the rest of the year. Being away for what seemed like a month has been a great distraction from the mundane obligations of a very busy life. You might be inspired to hop on a plane or train after I tell you about my journeys next.
After an impromptu trip to Costa Rica for a week which you can read about here, It was time head out to Casey Baugh‘s 2 day charcoal drawing workshop in Brooklyn. First day he gave us a demo of his process and day 2 was all hands on deck with all students working from a photo of their choice.

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We stayed in Manhattan for 5 nights right in the heart of it all, Time Square, what an adventure! Spent a whole day in The Metropolitan museum,got to visit the Art Student’s League, and the acclaimed Salmagundi club.


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Couldn’t call it a trip to NYC without going to the well known galleries in Chelsea district like Gallery Henoch. One day we even drove to Sag Harbor to visit RJD Galleries and Grenning Galleries which unfortunately were closed the day I decide to drive 2 hours to visit the Hamptons.

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Fortunately, the annual Portrait Society of America conference run by great faculty such as Ed Jonas and Michael Shane Neal was next on the agenda held this year at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia. This is a yearly highlight for me, this was my third year in a row. I get to network with the top representational artist from United States and abroad, prominent gallery owners and supply manufacturers all under one roof for four days.

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We arrived in Reston a day before the conference and took avantage to go visit the Smithonian National Gallery of Art in Washing D.C. So many wonderful pieces there!

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That afternoon was opening night at the conference with a full on face off with 15 artists all painting from the live models and it was great to see some friends included going at it.

Photo Apr 14, 5 07 32 PM(Robert Liberace painting a portrait of artist Anthony Ryder)

 It was great to have my local posse there with me, Mike Bernal and his lovely wife Belkis and also my teachers and art mentors Elkin Cañas and Milixa Moron which was their first time.


(From left to right, Milixa Moron & baby Alexandro, Belkis Bernal, Mike Bernal, Carlos Lopez)
I attended a discussion by Scott Jones and Gary Hanes from Legacy Gallery and Haynes Galleries respectfully as well as Beverly McNeil & Michael Shane Neal on presenting your best self as an artist. The conference continued with great happy hours, making new friends and buying way too many great materials such as from Natural Pigments, Rosemary & Co. Brushes, Michael Harding paints and so on. I did my best to get the Hughes Easel they were raffling by buying too many tickets but a lovely friend and great artist, Leslie Adams beat me to it!
One of the best moments for me was meeting fellow artist and brother in Christ, Dan Gerhartz and watching him wrap up the conference on stage with an alla prima painting of a beautiful young lady.

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This conference always inspires me to do the best work possible and fills me up with hope, humbleness and a great sense of comradery. I’d love to hear from you what special surroundings or circumstances give you the same. I know many people ask what do 800+ artist talk about at a conference? I’d love to hear your questions on the matter.

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On the Hunt in Costa Rica

What was I hunting for in Costa Rica? A new life!  Many people don’t know my story but I was born in Alajuela, Costa Rica to Cuban exiles fleeing the Castro regime. We came to america before I was 1 year old. Ever since my father, RIP, told me about the wonderful people of Costa Rica and the rich land topology. He strongly encouraged me to go back one day; 44 years later I did just that this last March. I learned a new phrase while there, PURA VIDA!
My better half, Michelle,  and I headed to Costa Rica with a couple of missions in mind. One of them being looking for opportunity to live a richer life with less stress. The other to explore the landscapes for paintings. We started off in Ocotal, Costa Rica after a 4+ hour drive from the capital, San Jose. We stayed at an incredible Airbnb apartment by Kristie steps away from the beach and close to the town of Coco.
First morning there I had to get out and paint, so I headed to the local beach at Coco and attempted to capture a twisting and turning tree in front of the paradise looking beach. I received a compliment for the painting from a local teenager so I took it off the easel and gave it to him.


That was until someone decided they wanted to park in my perfect view but hey,  Pura Vida!

The next few days we drove around the northwest rim of Guanacaste from Tamarindo to Playa Naranjo exploring the sites, looking at properties for sale, interacting with the locals and getting a feel for the culture and not to mention a taste! Michelle fell in love with the Mangos there and I was really enjoying the friendliness of the locals. I got to paint another Plein Air piece and again, couldn’t resist myself and gave it to a new friend, Mario.
Our time at Guanacaste ended after four days and we set out for the town of Quepos and Manuel Antonio.
Along the way I decided we weren’t done exploring the Pacific side of Guanacaste so I took a detour to visit some key cities along the cost from Playa Juanquillal to Samara. Explore we did with adventure too, before we knew it, we were driving on a major state dirt road along weaving in and out of mountains and through rivers for about 50 miles.

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 Photo Mar 28, 2 28 16 PM
Before we knew it, it was dark and we were tired so we decided to find a hotel for the night in the town of Jaco. Little did we know that could have turned out to be a major shocking adventure as we slowly realized the hotel we found vacancy at was a clothe optional resort known for swinger poolside parties. It was late at night and luckily didn’t encounter any risque activities going on.
In the morning we headed out in a hurry for Quepos and soon were checking in to a cute cabana in the mountain jungle where we had iggy welcoming us to the neighborhood. I had the opportunity to do another plein air painting at paradise looking national park beach, which I kept!
A friendly fellow came by on the way out to bid us farewell.
Last but not least I was able to take a selfie in front of the place where I came into this world.
I left Costa Rica knowing I will be back to a place that moves to the beat of it’s own drum. It’s a  place where many possibilities lie for the future of my art career where I can be afforded the time to create unlike any other place. But more than anything, I came in feeling unsure of our safety and left feeling like we were leaving a second home after only a week. Now back to what PURA VIDA means, pure life, live it to the fullest!
I’d love to hear what place on earth gives you an ultra feeling of bliss and hope. Leave me a message below or on one of my social media channels.

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Pura Vida from FKY on Vimeo.


2016-02-07 13.21.45This last weekend was a special treat to be part of a Call to Artists by Barbara Tejeda of Grove House Artists in Miami Florida. The weather was brisk and the day fairly clear. This was a first time for me with this group and was missing my usual posse from Chiaroscuro Studio of Art. The Call to Artists was a Saturday and Sunday event but I was only able to make it on Sunday and it was a 3 hour window to finish.

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After arriving at this new location for me I was greeted by Barbara Tejeda from Grove House artist and other members of the group. 2016-02-07 13.03.07

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I was blown away by the many options I had for a painting composition. 2016-02-07 13.21.452016-02-07 13.22.00

Although it was a long drive for me, I knew days with this cool and perfect weather were not common in South Florida. Furthermore an opportunity to meet more creatives were worth the effort.  After texting these photos to my Chiaroscuro posse to rub in what they were missing one of them responded with “You’re a trooper man!! Your dedication is inspiring”. My response: Best way to get better is to show up.

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As mentioned previously we only had a three hour window to work on Sunday before we needed to take brushes off the canvas and bring our pieces for judging at 1PM. After looking around the grounds and 30 mins. into the allotted time window, I finally found a spot that called my attention that had a type of Alice in Wonderland feel to it. The bright castle like structure of the Deering Estate at the edge of the woods.  I quickly setup and went to work, with Dunkin Donuts coffee I might add to get the motor warmed up.

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Before I knew it time was up and final brush strokes were being slashed on the canvas like a wild abstract artist, uggh the nightmare of that thought! Just kidding…Artists started bringing in their pieces and all styles and subject matters were represented. There were many beautiful pieces and I knew the Judges had their work cut out for them.

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Although my finished piece was not finished to my standards I was pleased with the effort in the two and half hour window I had.

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All in all it was a great day of painting, making new acquaintances for future collaboration on art related efforts and visiting a new prospect place for future paintings. Till next adventure, thanks for sharing in my artistic outing.  To keep up to date with blog postings, special events, sneak peek at what’s going on in my studio sign up for my monthly newsletter. I will make an attempt to finish the piece in my studio and post it on my Lanscape paintings page.



California Paintin’

I have a new addiction, Plein Air painting. All due to California’s beautiful coastline. Always dreamed of painting the rocky sites of the Pacific coast, along the California state road 1 aka the Pacific Coast Highway. This month I got to travel to San Francisco for the first time for one week of business and one week of vacation. San Francisco, beautiful in it’s own right just didn’t wow me, being that I’m a city boy and all. It was a step up from Manhattan in some regards, mainly architecture. Got to paint a few of the city sites and felt like I was just anywhere back home near Miami. Just across the Golden Gate bridge however was a beautiful world awaiting my mobile easel.
Sausalito Bay
Sausalito Bay © Santiago Perez – All Rights Reserved
After I was done with business in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district I headed North to the beautiful town of Sausalito. It’s a quaint little town with it’s bay lined with sailboat mast’s and calling seagulls and just on the other side, the high life and upscale town of Tiburon. I could not unpack my bags fast enough and get down from the hill I was staying at to go paint at the boardwalk. Captured a nice little dock that rented out miniature sailboats , the bay, and the edge of Angel Island. Many people were so friendly and curious, they all wanted to see what I was working on and all were very complimentary. Not to mention the PERFECT weather, 66 degrees painting outdoors. I was in heaven as opposed to the outdoor oven of South Florida weather at an average of 94 degrees at this time of year.
Santiago Perez painting in Muir Woods National Monument July 2015
Santiago Perez painting in Muir Woods National Monument July 2015 © Santiago Perez – All Rights Reserved
Next day was followed up with an adventure and a workout all in one as I trekked and hiked through the Muir Woods with my painting gear and tripod which sum a total of 30 Lbs for a 5 mile journey round trip. Needless to say it wasn’t hard to find inspiration and a purpose for being in the Redwoods forest. After I found a nice little spot I quickly setup and captured this little site while the sun was still above the trees’ canopy. This was my first experience painting in the woods and there was much to learn about the landscape perspective and color combinations. Unfortunately I couldn’t command the sun to stand still and my time ran out.

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 On the last leg of my trip I arrived at the most enchanting little town I’ve ever visited in my life and lined to the rim with QUALITY art galleries, I died and went to heaven! Needless to say, I forgot how much I was walking or shall I say running from gallery to gallery if it wasn’t for my fitbit on my wrist alerting me I had reached a milestone. In any case, the next morning headed down the road and came across a beautiful beach with some rock formations and I knew I had to capture it. Wasn’t sure from the view on the side of the road if it was possible but noticed there was a path down to the cliff and I knew there was my money shot! And heck, I figured if I go, I go doing what I love! Quickly setup and went to work. I was surprised as I was done with my 9 x 12 inch oil painting rather quickly. Must have been something about the soothing sounds of the crashing waves, the sandy beach, and majestic rock formation footing the mountain.
Painting at Garapata beach, CA
Painting at Garapata beach, CA © Santiago Perez – All Rights Reserved
On my last day I was itching to capture one last shot before I headed back to the flatlands of Florida so I headed out to Pebble Beach. I underestimated how much time it would take to get through this paradise land. Along my drive in the quest for the perfect painting spot I was struck by the serenity of the lone Cypress on the rock juxtaposed with the crashing waves against all the rock formations surrounded by Kelp. I was in awe and so upset that my trip was ending and I did not have time to translate what my eyes and heart were feeling through my paint brush and unto a canvas, which words cannot describe . I quickly awoke in the plane ride back and realized I have to start booking my next flight back!
Lone Cypress in Pebble Beach, CA
Lone Cypress in Pebble Beach, CA © Santiago Perez – All Rights Reserved

Do you know of any hidden spots that would be a gem for a painting? Leave a comment and let me know about them. If I decide to paint it in the future you might have a surprise in your mailbox.

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Cesar Santos Painting Workshop and unexpected outcome.

10348604_10153010951690984_7489562153941922064_n Earlier in the year I got a call that stopped me in my tracks as it was from  a young living master painter that I regard very highly for his draftsmanship and entrepreneurship. As I saw the caller ID I wondered what in the world could he be calling me for? Did I offend him on Social Media? Did he need my help for something? Was he inviting me to an exhibition? No, he was answering my prayers for an opportunity to learn from this young master. Let me tell you what an amazing experience and the great outcome from that call and how being at the right place at the right time can set you on a great path.
Cesar knew that I was hounding him on Social Media to do a workshop locally in South Florida or give me private lessons at almost any cost. Having a tight schedule between doing his own work, lectures and public speaking and not to mention workshops all over the western hemisphere of the globe it was tough to convince him. FInally some great miracle from above gave favor to myself and 5 other talented local artist and Cesar called us to invite us to come to his studio and learn first hand, his technique, tips and tricks one week from the date. Wow, talk about short notice! How do you even hesitate on an opportunity of a lifetime? My response was an irrevocable YES! Not thinking what my schedule would look like, if I had the funds for the workshop available, or where it was.
The week passed and before I knew it I was showing up at his eccentric and classical studio being greeted by him and his lovely wife Valentina. I met the other artists as they arrived and there was an immediate friendly atmosphere with no pressure no awkward moments etc. Cesar immediately got us working knowing we only had three days and boy it was hang unto your easel! Everyone worked from photo reference that had to be pre-approved by Cesar himself. It was quite refreshing how openly he shared with us his very simplified palette and technique to achieve luminous flesh tones.
During the three days there was so much laughter and story telling among all the artist as we worked closely together. Cesar being the ringleader, it was like painting at the Improv with a musical performance included, more on that later! Needless to say great friendships were made that day, the likes of Oscar Montoya, Mike Bernal, Mercedes Cisneros and her sister plus Luz Maria-Christian. I also discovered through them a great new Art Renewal Center  approved Atelier called Chiaroscuro Studio of Art in Miami which I am now proudly enrolled in thus the unexpected part of the workshop.
On the third day we all let loose and all bets were off, we discovered Cesar listens to all genres of music including Bollywood and he even pulled out a middle eastern or indian drum and played a piece for us. That got him worked up and next thing you know we have Luz Maria on a guitar he pulled out Cuba bongos and they’re playing a piece with Luz Maria singing. What more can one ask for? Just goes to show the giving and entertaining nature of this magnificent and talented artist. The other remarkable thing was how quickly everyone was able to progress through their paintings despite all the wonderful distractions. Cesar was vigilant on our progress throughout the whole time .
Needless to say what I cherished most of the workshop was memories of laughter and camaraderie that we shared,  the friendships that were made and technique I gained in just three days. The experience made me reflect on the fact life is too short and the need for more of all of the above while we still can. Life is precious, we shouldn’t waste the gifts we have been given and opportunities with the people that come into our lives.  See the painting I created, Michelle,  during this workshop on my website at

Bouguereau’s ‘Fancies’: Allegorical and Mythological Works by the French Master

140213cupidBeing a representational artist and having the pinnacle of mastery in figurative art in your backyard I literally broke the law by speeding to get to the Flagler Museum in West Palm Beach, FL. for the final hour of the exhibition. Yes, it’s that important, it’s like going to Paris and not visiting the Louvre if I would have missed it. Allow me to share my experience.When I first heard the exhibition was coming to town, I quickly jumped on Social Media sounded the alarm to all my local artist friends.  William Bouguereau, the famous French painter from the 1800s, changed what perfection meant in figurative painting and became the legend that we artist and painters of the human form strive for. I knew the exhibition was ending April 19th and of course I kept putting it off and even after having a long laborious day working around the house with 3 hour left before the close of the last day I broke the speed limit and dodged several state troopers to get at least an hour with these beautiful paintings.

Bouguereau’s paintings are spread in collections and museums across the globe. I came across my first Bouguereau at Les Petite Palais in Paris and next at Musee D’Orsay the next day. Both were moments that I could swear I heard the angels singing when I locked eyes on them. In any case, it was amazing to encounter several large sized original paintings of this master in one exhibition. I quickly pulled out my pocket-sized sketchbook and went to town jotting down as many notes as I could as stood in front of each painting. Overall the biggest observation I noticed was that his shadows are low chroma, or that is, low saturation in color. Secondly and still to my amazement, barely any brush strokes are visible. Secondly was amazed at how much red he employed in key areas like the corner of eye sockets, nostrils, fingers and ears. I’m talking almost pure hue chroma as if it were coming out of the tube! OK, that was an exaggeration but in comparison to the surrounding colors, they definitely sing out loud.  The old master, however, is able to pull it off with convincing expertise.

Lastly, I was blown away by the fact that he actually outlined most of his figures all over! Again, his expertise allows him make it all appear to sing kumbaya between the harmony of the warm skin tones and cool shadows he manages to match the value and chroma of the outline to go perfectly in each section. A stark contrast to some other Old Masters where they disappeared the edges.

Overall it was high-octane hour of education and awe as there was so much in common between his paintings such as low chroma backgrounds, cool shadows, and strong chroma in the flesh tones in the halftones and to my surprise the highlights weren’t even that high in value. With all this in common with most of his paintings, they each had their own language and were remarkably a study all unto their own. I strongly encourage all figurative painters to seek out the opportunity to view these gems where ever you are on this planet as you will soon realize that no picture does them justice. Keep on striving for excellence and despise mediocracy. I invite you to visit my site