Their links are many: Both are fascinated with the play of sunlight on forms, both are friends with Marcia Burtt, the founder of the gallery in which they are showing, both are sought after by collectors and workshop-goers, and — they’re married. The exhibition featuring Peggi Kroll Roberts and Ray Roberts is not to be missed.
Now through May 22, roughly a dozen pieces from each artist will be on view at Marcia Burtt Gallery in Santa Barbara, California. Burtt herself is a noted California painter, and a gifted instructor. “We’ve been friends for a long time — more than 20 years,” says Peggi. “Marcia put this out in the universe and we said, ‘Great, let’s do it.’ We’re not part of her stable of artists, so to speak, but I don’t know — maybe it will lead to that.”
Peggi and Ray have shown together before, but it’s not typical, like it was when they owned their own gallery. “It would be fun if it were a regular thing,” says Peggi. “We both took paintings that were finished to put in the show, and also did some specifically for the show. Ray did some local landscapes, and I did some beach scenes. I’m showing some of my gouache work, some oils, and some figurative pieces — plus one still life.”

“Creekside Sycamore,” by Ray Roberts, oil on linen, 24 x 30 in.

Both artists like to be outside, and take pleasure in depicting natural light. The majority of their work is plein air. Peggi says that just the light on a form is compelling, but she is swayed by subject matter. “Yes, sometimes it’s just a color that I see that I’m dying to mix, but nine times out of 10, it’s a figure or architecture,” she says. “Or even a garbage can! I look at Ray’s landscapes and they make me want to paint them, but when I get out there, I lose interest very quickly. Light on rocks, light on foliage — that’s gorgeous, but I don’t want to paint it. I guess people just have their favorite subjects, and my number one is the figure, no matter how it is painted, any style.”
Peggi says that one thing we can expect to see in some of Ray’s upcoming pieces is the increasing use of interesting vantage points: He bought a drone. Actually, he’s on his second drone. “He’s having fun painting from a drone,” she says. “It means all new vantage points. He’s gone up in a helicopter to get different views. Drones are cheaper than hiring a helicopter, that’s for sure! I’m thrilled for him. He’ll say, ‘I can’t get that perspective of the road any other way.’”
The couple’s bright and inquisitive approach to life and art, and the lack of pretense, coupled with distinctive techniques, make their artistic paths fascinating to follow. This duo show is a good snapshot of how their 2016 looks.


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