Abstracting the Landscape
9-week class begins Sept. 19

Understanding Composition through Shape and Notan
2-day workshop, October 4–5


Enjoy the benefits of individual critiques or studio sessions, targeted to help further your vision or work on specific concerns. Do you have a particular painting issue that your are struggling with? Do you need a reliable assessment of your process or technique? Are you wishing to find direction in your work or in a series? Are you working in a vacuum and looking for encouragement and support? Do you need an objective eye to help develop your portfolio?

$75 per hour ($5 addtional if I travel to your Seattle studio.)
Please email Mitch Albala to find out more or to set up an appointment.

“It was truly a wonderful workshop and a “come to  Jesus” refresher course on all the things some of us forgot long ago.  Thanks for your kind and intuitive critiques and evaluations. Painting with you represents what I would consider the peak of painting workshop experiences.” – Rich Davis, Painting in the Methow Valley, 2014

Fall 2014

2-day workshop | $225 | Saturday–Sunday, October 4–5, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily
To register contact Orcas Art Studios.

Every composition is fundamentally an arrangement of abstract shapes — and nothing defines those shapes more effectively than the balance between darks and lights. “Notan” is a Japanese word that means “dark-light harmony” and is a type of study study that uses only two values. In the Western tradition, this is called the “dark-light composition.” This strict dark-light arrangement has a unique way of revealing the underlying structure of a composition, thereby allowing us to take an active role in the manipulation of the compositional energies. Working first from masterworks, then photographs, and finally from life (still lives) in both painting, drawing and collage exercises, you will learn to identify the dark-light composition and, most importantly, to “think in notan” — to make better choices in the formative stages of your work, in order to bring greater order and power to your compositions. Note: This is not a class that teaches Asian-style painting; rather, it explores a universal principle that is applicable to all types of painting and drawing. ›› Expanded description and images about the notan.

9-week class begins Friday Sept. 19
Gage Academy of Art. Registration opens August 4. To register contact Gage Academy; for questions about class content email mitch@mitchalbala.com

With its range of textures, colors, space and atmosphere, the landscape is a rich vehicle with which to explore abstraction. Good abstract painting will honor the formal requirements of painting as much as great representational painting does. Form, shape, value, color, composition, and space are not abandoned in favor of strictly conceptual approaches. Instead, the class will ask you to use these formal requirements to build strong abstract landscapes that, while maintaining some foothold in discernible content, bring greater attention to the aesthetic experience. Students will work independently on “subjects” of their own choosing, while experimenting with the various methods for “inducing” abstraction. Each week includes a critique, lecture and/or demonstration. Students may work in acrylic or oil. Level: advanced

About the Author

Mitchell Albala is the author of Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice (Watson-Guptill, 2009). Now in its fifth printing, it has sold over 25,000 copies and has been called a "new classic of landscape." A respected teaching artist for more than 25 years, he currently teaches at Gage Academy of Art and Pacific Northwest Art School. He has also lectured at the Seattle Art Museum and written for International Artist and Artist & Illustrators magazines. He is represented by Lisa Harris Gallery. See his paintings at mitchalbala.com.