Phil Starke Studio Newsletter

January 2016  ✦

December Morning, Taos Pueblo - oil



I hope everyone's 2016 has had a great start. This month I will be teaching a workshop at Tubac AZ. Were staying at the Tubac Golf Resort and painting The Santa Rita Mountains and around the Santa Cruz River.  I'm expecting good weather and sunlight.

In February the Settlers West Miniature Show is coming up on the 14th. I also have a show at the Big Horn Gallery in Tubac for the month of February.


Church Near Rio Grande - oil - Available through Big Horn Galleries.

Garden Gate, Tubac, AZ - oil - Available through Big Horn Galleries

There is still plenty of time and some room left to sign up for the workshop in Greece in May. We will be painting on several Islands in Greece, lots of fishing villages and street scenes. There are more details in this newsletter.

Phil Starke
Phil Starke Studio

New York City Central Park Workshop - September 22 - 25, 2016
Register Here

Dates have been set and I'm really looking forward to this workshop.  This has become one of my favorite workshops because of the location and the group visit to the Metropolitan Museum.  In this 4-day workshop we will spend the first day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we will study American and French impressionists. The goal at the museum is to glean some understanding of how these painters simplified, used values and broken color. There's a lot to learn at the Met so it's a great place to start.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will be painting in Central Park. The subject matter is breathtaking, with gardens, lakes, flowers and endless trees and figures. The quality of light is beautiful, whether it's sunny or cloudy.

The focus of the workshop will be the thought process of mixing color, simplifying our subject to large masses and shapes instead of detail.  I stress the importance of

capturing a simple suggestion of light using composition, shape and value and not try to capture too much -- that's what a camera is for.  I will be doing 2 demonstrations a day showing a different subject matter and technique for each demonstration.

A Special FREE Bonus Package Including Links To 4 Video Downloads Will Be Handed Out At The End Of The Workshop. Each Video Will Address Different Elements Of Landscape And Plein Air Painting To Help With Further Study Following The Workshop. This Video Package Has A Value Of $275, But Will Be FREE To Participating Students Of This Workshop.  The Ticket For Our Visit To The Metropolitan Museum Will Also Be A Bonus For This Workshop.

Registration is Now Open.  More information and payment button can be found here:  

Phil Starke New York Central Park Workshop or contact me here.   Affordable housing is available.  If you would like to share accommodations with someone, contact me and I'll let you know if there are others looking for that as well.

Adjusting Photographs

This is a photograph taken on the Cienega Creek just east of Tucson. The foliage is almost gone and the clutter of trees and branches makes it hard to sort out any kind of pattern to show depth and light direction.


In the second image I put it in Photoshop and pushed all the middle ground trees in shadow and kept the foreground trees in sunlight. This way I'm simplifying the shapes and creating layers of trees to show depth. The larger cottonwoods are my center of interest, so I darkened the back ground trees to create more contrast and draw more attention to the area.


So when were working from photographs think of them as a starting place not a finished product to copy. We need to simplify shapes and values and use colors that suggest the light better than the photo does.

William Keith

Born in Scotland in 1838, William Keith immigrated to New York with his family in 1850. As a teenager he apprenticed to a wood engraver and later traveled to San Francisco, Scotland, and England plying his skills before settling in San Francisco in 1859 where he set up an engraving shop on Clay Street. Keith became interested in painting in 1863 when he began studing with still-life artist Samuel Brookes at his Clay Street studio. Brookes was a founding member of both the Bohemian Club and the San Francisco Art Association. Later, Keith began studying watercolor painting under the guidance of his wife, artist Elizabeth Emerson. In 1868 he gave up engraving to become a fulltime painter accepting commissions by the Northern Pacific Railroad to paint scenes along its routes in the Pacific Northwest, including scenes of Mount Hood and the Columbia River.

By 1869 Keith’s success with painting financed travel to Europe to study with the German Dusseldorf romantic landscape painters who favored detailed, realistic landscapes with fanciful, allegorical themes influenced by both the plein air and tonalist art movements. Keith’s style would continue to mature as he revisited Europe four times during his career. On his first trip he met fellow art student William Hahn. In Paris he studied with the Barbizon School before returning to America to share a studio with Hahn in Boston before they both moved to San Francisco in 1872 where they continued to share a studio. Hahn became one of the best known genre painters of the American West. On his return to San Francisco Keith met and forged a close friendship with naturalist John Muir.

After the death of his first wife, Keith married Mary McHenry, the first woman to graduate from Hastings Law School. He became one of the wealthiest artists in the United States by the early 1900s. Keith seldom accepted male students and was known as an art teacher of emerging women artists whom he introduced to plein air painting at locales such as Lands End (Wilson, 1983). After a second trip to Europe to study portrait painting in Munich, the Keith’s settled permanently in Berkeley, California and William commuted daily by ferry to his studio in San Francisco.

Keith was a very prolific artist painting over 4,000 oil paintings in his lifetime, half of which tragically burned in his studio in the earthquake and fire of 1906. In his heyday, collectors from all over the world visited Keith’s studio where the artist would select a painting for clients, order everyone to be quite, and then dramatically reveal the painting from behind a black velvet curtain on an easel flooded in light. Keith died in 1911 and, despite turning out hundreds of lesser paintings that have been called “potboilers” in the last five years of his life in an attempt to recoup the losses from 1906, he is honored as  the “Dean of California Painters” (Hughes, 2002:614). When he died at home in 1911, he was both wealthy and famous. An entire room was dedicated to his work at the The Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 and a special gallery dedicated to his life’s work, the Keith Gallery at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, opened in 1934.

Greece Workshop - May 6 - 25, 2016

May 6 - 25, 2016 I'll be teaching a workshop in Greece.  For three weeks we will be painting and touring around the Greek Islands.    The first day everyone will arrive in Rhodes and have time to enjoy the The Old Town with it's medieval cobbled lanes and beautiful old buildings connected by arches, cafes and shops.  We will have Welcome cocktails at 7:00 pm.  There will be plenty of time to explore and photograph during the workshop.  We will be visiting the islands of Rhodes, Symi, Nissiros, Kos, Kalymnos.  There will be lots to paint:  cobbled streets, beautiful harbors with fishing boats, stone walls, and old storefronts, cafes, windmills, and houses.     For more information about the painting part of the workshop, contact me at  If you're interested in more information about Greece and the accommodations, contact or phone: 0412 599 328.  Below are images of just a few places we'll see.

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Quick Links

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Workshop Schedule

Greece Workshop - May 6 - 25, 2016
More information is shown in this newsletter. Contact me if you have more question.

New York City Central Park Plein Air Workshop
Sept. 22, 23, 24, 25, 2016
click here for more info

The Plein Air Tip Guide Package. Click here to see all the new options.

The Plein Air Tip Guide Package.
Click here to see all the new options.

Exhibitions & Gallery Shows


American Miniature Art Show
Feb. 2016
Settlers West Gallery
Tucson, AZ

Big Horn Galleries
Feb. 2016
Tubac, AZ

Settlers West Summer Show
May 2016
Settlers West Gallery
Tucson, AZ


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