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Artist Advisor Spotlight: Robert Ferguson

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LQAF Artist Advisor Robert Ferguson was formally trained as an artist at the Parsons School of Design in New York. Following a successful career in graphic design and art direction in Manhattan, he decided to move back to the West Coast and commit to a career in fine art. His dedication to art is a life-long pursuit of the true colors of undisturbed serenity, tranquility and the sense for pure living in Southern California.

Robert Ferguson

He enjoys working en plein air, or outdoors, capturing the dramatic light and moods with exacting color, swift brushstrokes, and great passion and respect for his natural surroundings.  A contemporary impressionist painter, he counts the influences of Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne.

Creative Process

Robert uses many techniques to create his oil paintings. To assure longevity, he uses generous amounts of cadmium. He will start with covering his entire canvas with an orange cadmium mixture. Then, painting wet into wet, he starts the piece. As the piece evolves, he will use layering, tonalism, dry brushing and glazing. Ferguson is a prolific painter, having 2,000 major paintings to his credit.

An Eye for Natural Color

As there are millions of colors in nature that cannot be captured by slick techniques, Robert never premixes his colors, and never refers to a photograph.  Instead, he mixes each color one by one from his minimalist palette when he is out on location.  Additionally, he uses a color checker that he holds up to the subject. Then, he mixes until it is correct thus capturing the actual “color of the air” itself and how it plays on the subjects.

Painting by Robert Ferguson

Living Landscapes

Ferguson is best known and collected for his realist landscapes that capture the ever-changing light of the Coachella Valley, the moodiness of Napa Valley, and the coastal splendor of La Jolla and San Juan Capistrano, as well as locations in Europe.

Robert Ferguson painting in Europe

“A couple walked into my booth at La Quinta Arts Festival and saw my paintings of Europe,” he continues. “They immediately show me pictures of where they were in Plesio in the Italian Province of Como. I was in the exact spot—and had a painting of it. Of course, they bought the painting.”

Patrons visiting Robert Ferguson’s booth at La Quinta Arts Festival

In the past two years, he opened his studio and renovated his Rancho Santa Rosa Casita and Art Gallery in Pinyon Pines, which features unobstructed views of the mountains, and backs into the San Bernardino National Forest. From his vantage point high in the Santa Rosa Mountains, he enjoys a panoramic view of the Coachella Valley – northwest to Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Mountains, out to the Chocolate Mountains and Indio Hills, and southeast to the Salton Sea.

“If it is a true impressionist painting, the eye will gravitate to the light. My paintings are windows into a place in time,” shares Ferguson. “Two hundred years from now I want people to view my works and experience what I experienced while creating them.”

For more than a decade, Robert Ferguson has achieved success as a regular exhibitor at La Quinta Arts Festival. We are so grateful for his service on the LQAF Artist Advisory Board for La Quinta Arts Festival 2019.