2015 Painting Classes and Workshops with Mitchell Albala


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

Understanding Composition through Shape and Notan
2-day workshop on Bainbridge Island, Wash.  Saturday and Sunday, May 16–17, 2015 | $275

Building Strong Foundations through Underpainting 
2-day workshop on Whidbey Island, Wash. | Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17–18  | $270

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

Plein Air Painting on Orcas Island, Wash. SOLD OUT
3-day workshop | Tue. Wed. Thu. August 11–13, 2015 | $325

“I can’t thank you enough for being such a willing, inspiring, and erudite instructor … I really appreciate that you don’t create a mystique and elusive evasion to creating art. It’s refreshing, and engaging! This weekend’s workshop was great!” – Heather Cromwell, 2015

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


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.

2-day workshop  | Saturday and Sunday, May 16–17, 2015 | $275

Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island, Wash. For more information about class content, visit the Notan class page, which includes a video and an expanded description. For fees and registration information, contact Winslow Art Center

Every composition is fundamentally an arrangement of abstract shapes. To take command of our compositions, we must first be able to identify and manipulate those shapes. The notan is a unique type of study that gives us access to the most essential energies of a composition through an arrangement of dark and light patterns. Notan is a Japanese word that means “light-dark harmony.” 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 notan 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.

Understanding Composition through Shape and Notan is the only workshop of its type, and is helping redefine the way the notan is used by contemporary artists.

2-day workshop at Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island, Wash. | Saturday and Sunday, Oct 17–18 | $270

For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees and registration information, contact PNWAS.

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.

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

In June 2015, I’ll be bringing my popular plein air workshop to Europe for the first time, to Arte Umbria in Italy. Arte Umbria is in Montegabbione, a small town equally distant from Rome or Florence (about 90 miles). The course runs for one week and includes everything except airfare. Everyone stays in the same large manor house dating from 1600, sitting atop a small mountain overlooking the Chiana Valley and Cetona Peak. Visit the Italy workshop page for details.



3-day workshop |  Tue, Wed, Thu. August 11–13, 2015 | $325

Orcas Art Studios on Orcas Island. For more information about class content, email Mitch Albala. For fees and registration information, contact Orcas Art Studios.

This summer, author and teaching artist Mitchell Albala again brings the plein air experience to beautiful Orcas Island. This workshop will focus on the three key 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).


About the Author

Mitchell Albala is the author of Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice (Watson-Guptill, 2009). A best-seller, the book has sold over 30,000 copies and is regarded as the "new classic of landscape." A respected teaching artist for more than 25 years, Mitchell 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.