Plein Air Workshop
My plein air painting workshops are an opportunity for painters of all skill levels to immerse themselves in several days of painting outdoors on sites around Easton, Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. These workshops focus on balancing the development of technical skills with the aspects of painting that transcend technique and get us to higher levels of ourselves as artists and creators.
Really, every day spent painting outside is an opportunity for growth as a painter because plein air painting is also a lesson in paying attention to the moment you’re in. That can be a frustrating lesson for some especially if they are struggling with the technical aspects and skills needed to accurately express what they want through their work. In my workshops, I seek to meet painters where they are in the strengths and struggles of their practice and help get them to their next level as artists.
what to Expect
We’ll meet on Friday morning at the site or at my studio in downtown Easton to introduce ourselves and cover some basics as we read through the 'Notes on Plein Air' Guide and address any questions you might have.
At this meeting we’ll also go over your goals for the workshop. I think it’s important to set some kind of intention for the time you’ll be working so that we can focus on that rather than meander around with too many objectives. So, for example, some students want to spend the three full painting days working on the same composition while others would rather make short studies of varied subjects all over the site. Both are fine but I think it’s important to figure that out first so when you start your work, you can operate without pressure or impediment and give yourself the best chance to get as much out of the time as possible. This meeting will also give us an opportunity to discuss ways to make the most out of your time on-site. I’ll go over some fundamentals and resources I've compiled which will make the days out in the field painting more enjoyable and less frustrating. We will then get familiar with the site and make a few sketches of possible compositions. I find that this makes the painting days much more productive.
Saturday we’ll meet at 8,30 am at my studio and make our way to the site from there. We should be painting by about 9 or 9,30 am and can continue until about 1. We’ll break for an hour lunch which you can bring with you or, if we're in Easton, you can venture a few minutes downtown where there are many excellent restaurants as well as a lovely farmers market on Saturdays and the new brilliant and beautiful Easton Public Market. We’ll reconvene at about 2 for the afternoon session which will go until approximately 5.
Sunday we will meet at the same time in the morning and paint until about 2. After that we’ll have a group critique. These are usually really fun as well as incredibly insightful because we get a chance to revisit what we spoke about at our Friday meeting before we started painting. These group critiques have provided some of my favorite moments and serve as a great way for students to learn to articulate what worked and what still needs work with their paintings and with those
of their fellow students. Many times we end the weekend at Sette Luna for the best pizza and wine and more good conversations.
Some Important Points
- Absolutely ALL levels of painters are welcome. Do not be intimidated if you're a beginner or if it's been a while since you've painted outdoors. I'll be doing demos and instruction on fundamentals. The best thing about plein air painting is the immediate experience of the day. Don't let yourself miss that because of a little fear. It'll be great.
- Intermediate and advanced painters are also welcome. We will have group critiques at the end of each day where we can all contribute to the conversation and where all skill levels learn from all skill levels.
- ALL mediums are welcome; oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel.
- ALL styles are welcome which means you don't have to be a realist or naturalist painter to participate. In fact, you don't even need to be a landscape painter to participate! I'm endlessly interested in other perspectives and would love to see the abstract painters or strictly figurative painters immerse themselves in nature these two days and see where it takes them.
Be present. Be Mindful.
Be Aware. Paint.
It seems obvious but I think it’s important to remind you to enjoy yourself. I know from experience that it’s very possible to lose oneself in the struggle with the technical aspects and the attachment to what you think your final painting should look like. It’s best to let that all go or you can find yourself ultimately frustrated with every thing you make, sometimes even before you make it. Or worse, that kind of energy can just kill your creative spirit entirely. Instead, consider your time outside in and with nature to be an exercise in paying attention. A chance to cultivate a dynamic dialogue between what you’re seeing and what you are making. There’s no need to impose pressure on yourself to make a masterpiece in one day or a weekend.
Be present. Be mindful. Be aware. Paint.
FOR STUDENTS and WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS
Some Notes on Materials
You’ll want to give careful consideration to the materials you’re using and the efficiency and ease by which you can transport them, set them up, paint with out fussing, and take them down. Look into maximizing your efficiency and the weight you are carrying around by condensing whatever you can and packing lightly.
Every ounce matters when you are carrying your ‘studio’ on your back. Here are some general suggestions.
Cadmium Red Light
Transparent Oxide Red
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Yellow Lemon
Oxide of Chromium Green
You’re probably going to be working on smaller sized paintings so some flat, filbert, and round brushes in the 2,4, 6, 8 size range would be sufficient. I would recommend visiting RosemaryandCo.com and buying from there. The value, quality, and prices cannot be beat. Try the ‘ivory’ and ‘sable’ lines.
I prefer to paint on a rigid surface like panel or even better, linen mounted on panel. Stretched canvas is more prone to accidents while transporting and sometimes the sun shines thru it while which can change what the colors look like making it generally more frustrating to work with. There are lots of panel carriers on the market which help with safe transport of wet paintings.
*Please have TWO 9x12 panels and TWO 12x16 panels for this workshop. You can bring a few smaller sizes as well.
You don’t have to use any medium except a bit of Gamsol to thin the paint. But, if you want to experiment, the mixture below is a good starting medium. You can try it out and adjust according to preference.
1/3 Refined Linseed Oil
Another completely personal preference however, it’s important that you use something that’s light and easy to transport. French easels are great but they’re really heavy and clunky especially if you’re walking a bit to a site. There are many more lightweight solutions. I’ll be happy to provide you with some links to explore. Just ask…
- A leak-proof container for your gamsol
- Lint free rags and Viva Paper towels
- Plastic bags for your garbage
- Nitrile or Latex Gloves (optional but helpful)
- Sketchbook - spiral bound ones work well for holding with one hand while drawing with the other
- Graphite Pencils (H and HB will do)
- Blue Painters tape
- *OPTIONAL: Grey Scale Markers in 10,20,40,60, 80 grade
- For this workshop please have
Here is some information you might find useful if you've just signed up for one of my group plein-air workshops or an independent study. I'll keep adding to the link list but these are some stand outs.
I've grown to really love this company and it's products. Their customer service is super professional and considerate. They not only understand the importance of making exceptional paint and mediums, but also know how to articulate the nuances of using them.
Rosemary and Company Brushes
This UK company makes excellent brushes. The value, quality, and price are hard to beat.
Day Tripper Easel
I've tried lots of plein air easels. I used this one all last year and loved it's versatility. It's easy to set up and take down and very lightweight to transport.