Painting Workshops, Classes with Mitchell Albala 2016

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Real World Composition

9-week class begins Friday January 22, 2016 at Gage Academy – SOLD OUT

Exploring Composition through Shape and Notan

Free demonstration: Saturday, January 30, 2016 at Daniel Smith in Seattle
Workshop: Saturday–Sunday, Feb. 13–14, 2016  – SOLD OUT

Beyond Mud – Techniques of Working Wet-into-Wet with Oil

Saturday, March 5, 2016 at Winslow Art Center, Bainbridge Island – SOLD OUT

Stronger Paintings through Value Control and Value Zones

March 19–20, 2016 at ArtEAST in Issaquah

Landscape Painting: Essential Theory and Practice

9-week class begins Friday April 15, 2016 at Gage Academy

Understanding Simplification and Massing for Landscape Painters

Saturday–Sunday, May 7–8, 2016 at Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Is.

Plein Air Painting on Orcas Island, Wash.

3-day workshop with Orcas Art Studios, August 9, 10, 11, 2016

Building Landscape Harmony with Color Strategies, Limited Palettes, and Color Groups

Saturday–Sunday, Oct 1–2, 2016 with Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Is


I learned so much in your class and loved your teaching approach. You have a great way of letting each individual know what to work on next and where they need to improve, while keeping the class as a whole moving along. I so appreciated your organization, multitude of examples, great analogies, sense of humor, your deep knowledge, and obvious love of painting. – Miriam Works, Color Strategies for Landscape Painters, 2015

Plein air demonstration at Coffelt Farm, August 2015, on Orcas Island.

Plein air demonstration at Coffelt Farm on Orcas Island, August 2015.

Exploring Composition through Shape and Notan

2-day workshop at Daniel Smith Artists Materials – SOLD OUT
4150 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134 | (206) 223-9599
Free demonstration: Saturday, January 3o, 2016
Workshop: Saturday–Sunday, Feb. 13–14, 2016 | 9:30 to 4:30 pm | $215

notan-markerIf a composition has a soul, then the notan is the doorway to that soul. The gift of notan is the access it gives us to the underlying energies that drive a composition. Learning about notan teaches us to be better composers.

Every composition is fundamentally an arrangement of abstract shapes. To truly “compose” and take command of those shapes, we must first be able to identify them. The notan is a unique type of study that allows us to discover the underlying energies of a composition through the arrangement of dark and light patterns. “Notan” is a Japanese word that means “light-dark harmony.” The notan study uses an extremely limited set of tones — in its most strict form, black and white; and in its more liberal form, black white, and a mid-tone. This flat and and abstract design notation is uniquely suited for expressing a composition in its irreducible shape terms. Working first from masterworks, then photographs, in both painting, drawing collage, and abstract exercises, you’ll learn to “think in notan” and begin to see the underlying structure of your compositions. You’ll learn to make better choices in the formative stages of your work and bring greater order and power to your compositions. Level: Intermediate.


Real World Composition

9-week classs at Gage Academy in Seattle | Fridays 1:30 – 4:30 pm. Begins Jan. 22 | SOLD OUT

garden-steps-full-paintingFor many painters, composition remains the most elusive area of their practice. Why? Because its energies are fundamentally abstract and hidden beneath the surface of the subject. The goal of this class is to make the invisible visible and become sensitive to these underlying energies. The class takes a “real world” approach to composition, not by applying arcane geometries, but by working with the shapes and forces we actually see. Working from both photographs and life, with weekly exercises, critiques, and analysis of master compositions, you will learn: how values zones are used to identify the underlying shapes of a composition; the effect of the “picture window” in containing the shapes; and most of all, how to assess your compositions. A segment on notan is also included. Principles like balance, rhythm, unity, and variation are explored, but only as they apply to “real world” representational problems. Homework required. Level: Intermediate–Advanced.


Beyond Mud – Techniques of Working Wet-into-Wet with Oil

1-day workshop at Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Saturday, March 5, 2016 | 9:30 am – 4:30 pm | $160  | SOLD OUT

The-Way-Home-StudyEvery oil painter, at one time or another, has experienced the frustration of working in oil. We love its buttery consistency and blend-ability, but those are the same qualities that can lead to overworking and “mud.” Keeping yours colors fresh and clear is not something that happens by accident — it’s a practice that involves a series of technical maneuvers that you must learn to apply with every stroke. This workshop covers everything you need to start improving your wet-into-wet practice: the the law of  “thin > thicker > thickest” and layering order, paint consistency, transparency and opacity, touch, and the right kinds of brushes to use. The morning session is devoted to several practice exercises that introduce the techniques. Then, in the the afternoon session, you’ll do a painting of your own choosing, where you’ll practice the wet-into-wet technique under Mitchell’s guidance.


Stronger Paintings through Value Control and Value Zones

2-day workshop at ArtEAST in Issaquah, Wash.
Saturday–Sunday, March 19–20 | 9:30 am – 4:30 | $215 members/$225 non-members

Mitchell Albala, High Road Toward Sunset, oil on panel, 14 x 14. Available.“Values define our shapes, and shapes define our paintings.” Whether you are a classical realist in the tradition of the old masters, an abstract painter, or a modern colorist, the ability to define values is the key to building a cohesive design within your painting. Yet for many of us, value definition remains an ongoing challenge. In this focused workshop, you’ll work from photographs, and through a series of guided exercises, develop a greater sensitivity to values. You’ll learn how to use limited values to help identify shapes, and the importance of value zones and color zones — which are the keys to maintaining cohesiveness among the many colors, strokes, and values that may be present in any given painting. For acrylic and oil painters.


Landscape Painting: Essential Theory and Process

9 week class at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle
Fridays 1:30 – 4:30 pm | April 15 – June 17 (no class May 6)
For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees and registration information, contact Gage Academy.

pinnacle-peak-mitchell-albalaThis studio-based class explores the key foundations of landscape — simplification/massing, value, subject selection, composition, color strategies, and the proper way to use reference photos. Through structured exercises, in the slower, more controlled environment of the studio, you will become better prepared to solve these problems when working outdoors. Ideal for those with previous experience who now want to explore landscape or seek a foundation for plein air work. Class time includes weekly critiques and personalized instruction. Homework required. Level: Intermediate to advanced.


Understanding Simplification and Massing for Landscape Painters

2-day workshop at Pacific Northwest Art School, Whidbey Island, Wash.
Saturday–Sunday, May 7–8, 2016 | $285
For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees and registration information, contact PNWAS.

discovery-sunsetIt’s easy to paint a thousand points of light with a thousand brushstrokes. It’s much more difficult — and infinitely more eloquent — to paint a thousand points of light with only one hundred strokes.”
from Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice

The ability to to simplify — to covert nature’s complexity into fewer and more readable shapes and patterns — is the most important skill for the landscape painter. Painting or drawing a shape is not difficult, but seeing a shape through layers of surface detail and complexity requires a practiced shift in perception — an ability to see the forest and the trees. In this workshop, working from your own photos and those supplied by the instructor, you will do several guided painting and drawing exercises that are designed to encourage your eye and hand toward the broad, simplified shapes thats are the backbone of any landscape composition. This workshop will cover:

  • the first act of simplification — composing with a “limited focus”
  • the four value divisions of landscape
  • the importance of “value zones” for managing detail within a simplified framework
  • how to do thumbnail studies that are truly simplified and explore composition options

Time will also be set aside for a review your own works (optional) as they relate to the workshop topic. You may work with your own photographs or work with those provided by the instructor. Detailed tips for selecting your own reference photos will be provided before the workshop.

Level: This is not a class for first-time painters; however, it is ideally suited for those are interested in landscape and want to learn more about the essential practice of simplification.


Plein Air Painting on Orcas Island

3-day workshop at Orcas Island Art Studios
Tuesday–Thursday, Aug 9, 10, 11, 2016 | $355
For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees, registration, and information about accommodations and travel, contact Orcas Island Art Studios.

coffelt-farm-orcas-island-mitchell-albalaOnce again, author and teaching artist Mitchell Albala again brings the plein air experience to beautiful Orcas Island. This workshop will focus on the three most essential practices of landscape painting: simplification and massing, composition, and color. His demonstrations and practical teaching style will help you develop strategies for dealing with these challenges in a way you will be able to use long after the workshop has ended. Learn the best method for starting a painting (the abbreviated underpainting to establish effective design and value structure); how to do proper compositional studies; how to evaluate potential sites; and paint handling. Be part of a close knit “art colony” as you benefit from daily demonstrations and close one-on-one support from your instructor.

Hours: The class meets for two sessions daily, a morning session from 8:00 to 11:00 am, and an afternoon session from 3:30 – 6:30 pm (for optimal lighting). The time in between sessions may be used for lunch, relaxation or touring the Island.
Level: This is not a class for first-time painters; however, it is ideally suited for those who have painted and drawn before, and now want to break into landscape painting, or hone their existing landscape painting skills.
Medium: The instructor works in oil, but acrylic painters and pastel artists are welcome! You can work in acrylics as long as you have facility with them: able to blend, control edges, and work wet into wet or wet over dry. A small portion of the demonstrations speak directly to oil technique; however, the majority the lessons are applicable to landscape painting in all media (except watercolor which is is too media-specific and not appropriate for this class).


Building Landscape Harmony with Color Strategies, Limited Palettes, and Color Groups

2-day workshop at Pacific Northwest Art School, Whidbey Island, Wash.
Saturday–Sunday, Oct 1–2, 2016 | $270
For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees and registration information, contact PNWAS.

grassers-lagoonLandscape is an endless source of color inspiration, yet successful landscape painting is only partially about referencing the colors we see in nature. More often than not, a successful depiction of landscape light is based on the implementation of a color strategy or “color plan.” Although we will reference photos in this workshop, we never copy photographic color; instead, we learn to build color harmony by becoming color strategists and inventors.

In a series of guided exercises, this workshop will cover:

  • how spectrum-based relationships like complementary, analogous, and triadic can serve as the foundation of a strategy
  • how limited palettes help direct a strategy and keep color mixtures more unified
  • how landscapes can have greater color unity with the use of “color groups” — two or three basic color families into which all the other colors may be grouped
  • the different ways we approach color en plein air and in the studio
  • the proper way to reference photographs, so as not to become “copyists”

You can work with your own photographs or work with those provided by the instructor. Detailed tips for selecting reference photos for the workshop will be provided before the workshop. Level: This is not a class for first-time painters; however, it is ideally suited for plein air or studio landscape painters who want to expand their color vocabulary.