Painting Workshops, Classes with Mitchell Albala

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2017 Classes and Workshops

Real World Composition

Friday afternoon, Jan 20–March 17, 2017 at Gage Academy in Seattle

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017 at Winslow Art Center, Bainbridge Island

Exploring Composition through Shape and Notan

Saturday–Sunday March 25–26, 2017 at Pacific Northwest Art School

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

Saturday–Sunday May 6–7, 2017 at Winslow Art Center

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.

Real World Composition

9-week class at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle
Friday afternoons, 1:30 – 4:30,  Jan 20 – March 17
For questions about course content, please email Mitchell. To register contact Gage Academy of Art

garden-steps-winter-mitchell-albalaCompositional 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.

ascension-mitchell-albalaEvery 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

2-day workshop at  Pacific Northwest Art School
Saturday–Sunday March 25–26, 2017| $285
For more information about class content, email Mitchell. To register contact PNWAS.

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.


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

2-day workshop at Winslow Art Center, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Saturday–Sunday May 6–7, 2017 | $295
For questions about course content, please email Mitchell. To register contact Winslow Art Center.

azure-asphalt-way-home-study-3-mitchell-albalaLandscape 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.