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2017 Classes and Workshops
Friday afternoons, Jan 20–March 17, 2017 at Gage Academy in Seattle
Saturday, January 21, 2017 at Winslow Art Center, Bainbridge Island
Saturday–Sunday, March 25–26, 2017 at Pacific Northwest Art School
Saturday–Sunday, May 6–7, 2017 at Winslow Art Center
Saturday–Sunday, June 10–11, 2017 at Art EAST in Issaquah
July or August dates to be announced
Mid-September dates to be announced
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
I so enjoyed and learned much during this workshop: You created a feeling of openness to students and to different painting styles, you demonstrated your concepts, and then coached us in our trial of that concept. And after many courses, I learned some much needed basics about values and the “holding together” of a painting. – Jackie Carter Gerard, Understadning Simplication andMassing for Landscape Painters, 2016
Real World Composition
9-week class at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle
Friday afternoons, 1:30 – 4:30, Jan 20 – March 17 | $415
For questions about course content, please email Mitchell. Registration opens Nov. 14 with contact Gage Academy of Art.
Compositional energies are fundamentally abstract and often hidden beneath the surface of the painting. This class takes a “real world” approach to composition by showing you how to find those energies and work with them. Working from both photographs and life, with practical exercises, critiques, and analysis of master compositions, you will learn how values zones are used to identify the underlying shapes of a composition, the principle of variation and intervals, the effect of the “picture window” on composition, and how to activate negative space. Principles like balance, rhythm, unity are explored, but only as they apply to “real world” representational problems. Homework required. Intermediate.
Beyond Mud: Techniques of Working Wet-into-Wet with Oil
1-day workshop at Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island, Wash.
January 21, 2017 | 9:30 am – 4:30 pm | $160
For questions about course content, please email Mitchell. To register contact Winslow Art Center.
Every 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.
Exploring Composition through Shape and Notan
If a composition has a soul, then the notan is the doorway to that soul. The notan gives us access 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 ultra-simplified design 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.
Building Landscape Harmony with Color Strategies, Limited Palettes, and Color Groups
Landscape 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.
The Four Stages of Landscape Painting
In this concise, weekend intensive you will develop a single painting, as you are guided through the four-stages of landscape painting, which is the approach taught by Mitchell in his book, Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice. Each of the stages respects the idea that a landscape painting, whether executed outdoors or in the studio, is built on an ordered, step-by-step approach that flows from the general to the specific, from planning to final execution.
The Saturday morning session will introduce Stage 1, Site/Subject Selection and Stage 2, Composition. You’ll learn about differentiation of shapes and simplification; the requirements a subject must have in order to translate well into painting; how to compose using a limited focus; and compositional thumbnails. The Saturday afternoon session will cover Stage 3, Beginning a Painting, using the shape- and value-oriented block-in method. Then on Sunday, we move into Stage 4, Paint Handling and Color Application, which will include segments on color strategies, limited palettes, and (for oil painters) working wet into wet.
This workshop is ideal for those who have not been exposed to Mitchell’s four-stage approach, or those who want to paint under under his guidance for the weekend. Level: This workshop is not suitable for first-time painters, but is ideally suited for plein air or studio landscape painters who want to strengthen their foundational skills in landscape.
Plein Air Painting Adventure in Umbria, Italy with Mitchell Albala
Mid-September, final dates and costs to be announced before the end of October
For questions about workshop content, please email Mitchell. For registration information and logistical details, contact director Martha Jordan (206) 715-6663 or email@example.com
Join Winslow Art Center (Bainbridge Island, WA) and best-selling author and landscape painter Mitchell Albala for an unforgettable plein air painting adventure in Umbria, Italy. Mitchell has a reputation as a generous, friendly, and informative instructor. His “essentials” workshops offers the plein air adventurer a perfect balance of free painting and instruction. Demonstrations and instruction will focus on the essentials steps of plein air painting.
- Landscape painting begins with site selection. What conditions do we look for in a subject? Which views are best?
- Learn about landscape composition. Begin with a limited focus and compositional thumbnails. What information should be left out, and what should be kept in?
- Learn the essential skill of simplification and massing for translating the vastness and detail of the landscape into simplified compositions.
- Smart starts — learn how to begin a painting with a simplified and shape-oriented block-in.
- Explore color as it specifically relates to landscape painting. Learn how a limited palette simplifies color mixing and helps achieve a unified light.
- Paint handling – Learn how to control oil paint without muddying the surface.
You’ll be part of a close knit Italian “art colony” as you benefit from daily demonstrations and lectures, personal and group critiques, and lunch time chats. Paint in both early morning (8 – 11) and afternoon (3:30 – 6:30) sessions (for optimal lighting).
This workshop is ideally suited for those who have some painting experience and now want to break into plein air painting, or those who want to hone their existing landscape painting skills.