2014–2015 Painting Classes and Workshops with Mitchell Albala



Understanding Composition through Shape and Notan
In Seattle at Gage Academy of Art | Saturday–Sunday, Dec. 13–14 | $260


The Plein Air Primer: Essential Practices for the Plein Air Painter
2-day workshop | Saturday and Sunday April 18–19, 2015 | $270

Plein Air Painting: The Umbrian Experience with Mitchell Albala
Week-long stay, 5-1/2 day workshop in Umbria Italy

Building Strong Foundations through Underpainting
2-day workshop | $270 | Saturday and Sunday, October 17–18

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

9-week class begins Friday Sept. 19 | $405
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.

Gage Academy of Art in Seattle2-day workshop | Saturday–Sunday, Dec. 13–14 | $260
Orcas Art Studios on Orcas Island | 2-day workshop | Saturday–Sunday, Oct. 4–5 | $225

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.


2-day workshop | Saturday and Sunday April 18–19, 2015 | $270

Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island, Wash. For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees and registration information, contact Pacific Northwest Art School.

Why is plein air painting considered one of the most demanding forms of painting? The landscape is beautiful, but it is also exceedingly large, overly complex, and highly changeable. This makes tasks like site selection, simplification and massing, and value and color control even more challenging. This workshop, offered just before the start of the plein air season, is meant to serve as a primer on how to manage these challenging issues. By exploring these concepts through guided exercises, in the relaxed and more structured environment of the studio, you will be better prepared to face them when you begin working outdoors. The workshop will cover limited focus as a means to simplify and build strong compositions, the value divisions of landscape, the proper way to plan and begin your painting, and how to approach color. The workshop will also review the logistics of plein air: how to set up outdoors, organize a light pack of supplies, and advice on materials. Level: This workshop is ideal for those who have painted and drawn before and now want a to prepare for the challenge of painting en plein air. Suitable for oil, acrylic or pastel painters.

Week-long stay, 5-1/2 day workshop in Umbria Italy

Visit the Italy workshop page for details.

for Oil or Acrylic Painters
2-day workshop | $270 | Saturday and Sunday, October 17–18

Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island, Wash. For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees and registration information, contact Pacific Northwest Art School.

Every painting deserves a solid foundation — and there is no better way to establish that than with an underpainting. Underpainting is a powerful and reliable method that works out issues of composition, placement, and value at the very start, helping you to avoid costly mistakes and the need to rework your painting later on. Many painters have tried underpainting, or what they thought was underpainting, but were unsuccessful because they did not fully understand the method. The workshop will cover the specific technique (for oil or acrylic painters) for building strong and successful underpaintings, as well as the conceptual framework behind underpainting: that the simplified value structure and simplified shapes developed in the underpainting create stronger and more enduring compositions. The technique for underpainting in oil or acrylic is slightly different, and the instructor will demonstrate in both media.

On Saturday, you will learn the technique for traditional monochromatic (single color) underpainting, and how the choice of the underpainting color influences the color direction of the painting. On Sunday, we will explore the two-color underpainting method, which helps establish a color strategy as the very start, and how color is applied on top of the underpainting.

Level: This is not a class for first-time painters; however, it is ideally suited for those who have painted and drawn before, and are interested in discovering an effective way to build solid foundations in their painting.

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 almost 30,000 copies and is regarded as the "new classic of landscape." A respected teaching artist for more than 25 years, he currently teaches at Gage Academy of Art, Pacific Northwest Art School, artEast, and in 2015 Arte Umbria in Italy. He has also lectured at the Seattle Art Museum and written for International Artist and Artists & Illustrators magazines. He is represented by Lisa Harris Gallery. See his paintings at mitchalbala.com.