Ray Roberts and Peggi Kroll-Roberts Interview

A visit with Impressionists Ray Roberts and Peggi Kroll-Roberts in their Northern California studio

Text by Wolf Schneider 

Photos by Mark Compton

Published online courtesy Southwest Art, October 2004

The Roberts in their studio

 You’re married, you’re both painters, and you share a studio in Angel’s Camp, CA, which is near Lake Tahoe?

Peggi: We’re two hours from San Francisco, two hours from Lake Tahoe.

 How does it work out, sharing the studio?

Ray: We have a no man’s land in the middle. [Laughs]

Peggi: It’s the neutral zone.

 Do you work at the same time?

Peggi: Oh yeah.

 Who helps the most?

Peggi: We both know to say, “That looks fabulous. That’s gorgeous.” Maybe one little blurt, but that’s it. We don’t critique each other’s work heavily at all. That’s why it’s worked so well. 

Who’s the neatnik and who’s the slob?

Peggi: I’m a little neater and tidier. He’s Mr. Messy.

 Do you share paintbrushes and paint, or is that too much togetherness?

Ray: Yeah, we have common supplies. We’ve got thousands of dollars worth of paints.

Who chooses the music to play while you’re working?

Peggi: He does mostly, until I go, “That is so annoying, can we listen to NPR?”

Ray: I listen to talk radio mostly, occasionally rock-and-roll.

Paintings by the Roberts

 

Who’s the speedy one, and who’s the slowpoke?

Ray: Peggi does more paintings. But mine are larger.

 Who get the phone when it rings?

Peggi: Ray loves the phone. I hate the phone.

 Who talks the most, and who says, “C’mon, I’m working”?

Ray: I talk the most

Peggi: He can chatter and work. He talks to the model. I can’t.

 Who works longer hours?

Peggi: Ray does. But I do more laundry.

 You’re based on a small ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, with horses, chickens, cats and dogs?

Peggi: Not anymore. We had 25 chickens running around, and we said, “We can’t do this anymore.” We’ve been traveling so much, we just couldn’t tend to them. We kept four hens, and our soccer coach took the rest. We had one horse, Freight, and I gave him to our farrier.

 

                                                             Roberts Studio Exterior             Roberts Front Gate

But you’ve still got the 200-year-old oak trees outside, and the old gold mines nearby?

Peggi: Now they’re becoming boutique wineries. That’s the new gold.

And who is embracing the new gold enthusiastically in your household?

Peggi: How can you peg that so quickly?

But Peggi, I’m guessing you pay the bills.

Peggi: You are so perceptive! I do all the paperwork.

The grocery shopping, too?

Peggi: Actually, Ray does most of the grocery shopping and the cooking, if he wants to eat. [Laughs]  And he does the computer stuff. And he gets the fire going in the wood stove during winter. Then he’ll come in the house and get the coffee going, and bring his princess a cup of coffee in bed.

How’d you come to that town?

Peggi: Ray was longing to go back to California after we lived in Scottsdale. I just couldn’t face the droves in Southern. A friend was living up near here, in a charming, wonderful town. We fell in love with it.

You’re both impressionists, and you both do plein-air studies, figurative work, still lifes, and landscapes?

Ray: Yes, but I don’t do still lifes.

Acrylic, oil, or watercolor?

Ray: Oil.

Peggi: Oil and watercolor.

What quality must an artist have, and what quality will only do an artist in?

Peggi: Must-have quality – self-policing. Bad quality – ego.

Ray: Perseverance is good, complacence is bad.

What word or phrase do you each overly rely on?

Ray: “Do you take credit cards?” [Laughs]

Peggi: “This sucks.” [More laughter]

On what occasion do you each fudge the truth?

Peggi: Well, maybe when I tell him he looks like Hercules.

Ray: You’re fudging then? [Laughs] I fudge on the golf course.

What trait has served you best in your career, and what trait do you deplore in yourself?

Peggi: That I’m a Virgo – it’s served me best and I deplore it. It can be relentless.   

I’m certain Ray is not a Virgo.

Ray: I’m a Pisces. I’m ambitious, but I wish I had better social skills.

Which artist, living or dead, would most like to trade a piece of art with?

Peggi: Georgio Morandi.

Ray: Joaquin Sorolla.

What’s the range that your work sells for?

Ray: $1,200 to $9,500

Peggi: $500 to $5,000

What does an artist need most: a good accountant, a good truck, or a good red wine?

Ray: A good car!

Peggi: Yes, a navy blue Suburban.

Out there 200 miles from anywhere, I bet you do.