2018 Painting Workshops with Mitchell Albala

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NEW! Essentials of Composition for Representational Painters

Friday–Sunday, March 16, 17, 18, 2018 at Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island

Landscape Painting: Smart Starts Using Underpainting to Build Value, Composition and Color

Saturday–Sunday, April 21–22, 2018 at Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island

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

WORKSHOP: Saturday–Sunday, May 26–27, 2018 at Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials
FREE DEMONSTRATION: May 12 at Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials

NEW! The Contemporary Impressionist Landscape

Saturday–Sunday, June 16–17, 2018 at Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island

NEW!  Landscape Painting Essentials: from the Inside Out

Thursday – Sunday, July 26 – 29, 2018 at Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island

Essential Concepts of Landscape Painting

Friday–Sunday, October 19–21, 2018 at Peninsula Art League, Gig Harbor, Wash.

You are probably the best workshop instructor I have ever had. Terrific handouts, example boards, demos, exercises. You are a gifted and generous teacher and I hope to attend a class with you again. – Lisa Richter, Building Landscape Harmony, 2017

Mitchell Albala plein air painting demonstration

Plein air painting demonstration on Orcas Island, Wash., 2016.

I feel like I was waiting for this particular workshop my entire painting life. The great thing about your teaching is that you don’t just think to yourself, “I know how to do this, so why don’t I go ahead and teach it,” as most other artists do. Instead, you think, “What are the steps I take to accomplish this and how do I best communicate it to students so they can put these techniques to work?” Well done! – Jackie Bellows, Beyond Mud: Working Wet-into-Wet with Oils, 2017

Essentials of Composition for Representational Painters

3-day workshop at Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Friday–Saturday, March 16, 17, 18, 2018 | 9:30–4:30 daily | $395

azure-asphalt-homeward-mitchell-albalaThis workshop is not landscape-specific and is open to all genres (landscape, figurative, still life) and all media (oil, acrylic, watercolor, or pastel).

For many artists, composition remains the most elusive area of their practice. Why? Because its energies are fundamentally abstract and often hidden beneath the surface of the painting. The goal of this 3-day workshop is to make the invisible visible — to discover the underlying energies that drive a composition. We will take a “real world” approach to composition by learning to work with the shapes and forces we actually see. Working from both photographs and life, with practical exercises, ongoing critiques, and analysis of master compositions, you will learn: how value differences are used to identify the shapes a composition is built upon; the essential principle of intervals; the power of the “picture window” in selection and arrangement; movement and directional energy; and how to activate negative space. Principles like balance, rhythm, unity, and variation are explored, but only as they apply to “real world” representational problems.


Landscape Painting: Smart Starts Using Underpainting to Build Value, Composition and Color

2-day workshop at Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island
Saturday–Sunday, April 21–22, 2018 | $300 (+ $25 annual registration fee) | Registration: contact PNWAS

We invest a great deal of effort in finishing a painting, but the success of a painting hinges on a well thought out start. This workshop focuses on the critical first steps of a painting. An underpainting (or “block-in”) is a holistic method that works out issues of composition, value, and even preliminary color at the very start. This “smart start” can avoid costly mistakes and the need to rework the painting later on. You’ll learn how the simplified value and shape structure developed in the block-in is the key to stronger compositions. The workshop will cover two approaches to the block-in. On Saturday, we explore the traditional monochromatic block-in, which serves as a primer on values. On Sunday, we will learn the technique for the color-block method: building the composition with color blocks based on a well-defined value study. You’ll have the chance to follow through and add successive layers to each of your starts. We will work from photos. You may bring your own or select from the instructor’s collection. This workshop is suitable for oil or acrylic painters, but not watercolor or pastel.

Media: Suitable for oil and acrylic painters, but not watercolor or pastel.  Level: This workshop is not suitable for first-time painters (those who have never painted or mixed color at all); however, it is ideally suited for those who want to learn more about making smarter starts in their landscape paintings.


NEW! The Contemporary Impressionist Landscape
An Exploration of the Impressionist’s Most Enduring Lesson

2-day workshop at Winslow Art Center on Whidbey Island
Saturday–Sunday, June 16–17, 2018  | 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily | $350.

In many ways, Impressionism still defines the way contemporary landscape painters approach color. The Impressionists filled their paintings with brilliant color and created an entirely new coloristic metaphor for depicting natural light. In this workshop, you will learn the key to working with this “color-priority” system: in order for the purer colors to serve as a stand-in for the luminosity of natural light, darker tonalities are rejected in favor of lighter-value colors. Strong value contrasts are replaced by color contrasts. Impressionists worked from life, but in this workshop, we will work from photographs, in the more controlled environment of the studio, where you will be able to absorb lessons at a comfortable pace. To place the Impressionist color-priority system in context, we begin with an exploration of the “value-priority” systems that preceded Impressionism, such as the Dutch Landscapists. Then, through a series of exercises and paintings, you will learn how this enduring lesson of Impressionism — balancing value and color chromaticity — can bring greater luminosity to your landscape paintings.

Media: Suitable for oil, acrylic, pastel or watercolor. Level: This workshop is not suitable for first-time painters (those who have never painted or mixed color at all); however, it is ideally suited for plein air or studio painters who want to strengthen their skills in landscape.

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

2-day workshop at Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials, Seattle, Wash.
Saturday–Sunday May 26–27, 2018 | $235
FREE demonstration: Saturday May 12, 2018
Register by phone by calling the Daniel Smith store directly at (206) 223-9599, or email  joseph.bosch@danielsmith.com

The landscape is an endless fount of color inspiration, yet thoughtful landscape color is only partially about referencing the colors we see in nature. More often than not, a successful color solution also involves the implementation of a color strategy or “color plan.” In a series of guided exercises, this workshop demonstrates some of the ways you can build landscape harmony: 1) how color strategies are based on similarity or contrast, or a combination of both; 2) how landscapes can have greater color unity with the use of “limited color groups” — two or three basic color families into which all the other colors may be grouped; 3) how a limited palette, specific to each painting, can support the harmony; and 4) the proper way to reference photographs, so as not to become “copyists.” 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. 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 (those who have never painted at all); however, it is ideally suited for plein air or studio landscape painters who want to expand their color vocabulary. Media: Oil, acrylic, pastel.


Landscape Painting Essentials: from the Inside Out

4-day workshop at Pacific Northwest Art School
Thursday – Sunday, July 26 – 29, 2018 | $525 (+ $25 annual registration fee) | Registration: contact PNWAS
Hours: First three days: 9:30 am – 12:30 and 3:30 – 6:30 | Last day: 8:00 am – 11 and 3:30 – 6:30

Working both in the studio and outdoors, this workshop takes a step-by-step approach to learning the essential concepts of landscape painting. The workshop is structured into two daily sessions. Morning sessions for the first three days take place in the relaxed, controlled setting of the studio, where a key lesson is introduced in the form of an exercise. Then, in the afternoon session, we head outdoors to practice the morning’s lesson live, en plein air. The fourth day is an all plein air day. Topics include site selection and limited focus, composition, simplification and massing, starting a painting with a simple color-based block-in, and color strategies. Enjoy in-class critiques and lots of personalized guidance from the instructor.

Level: This is not a workshop for first-time painters (those who have never painted or mixed color at all), however, it is ideal for those who want a strong foundation in landscape painting, or for those who want to hone their existing landscape skills. Media: Suitable for oil, acrylic or pastel.


Essential Concepts of Landscape Painting

3-day workshop at Peninsula Art League in Gig Harbor, Wash.
Friday–Sunday, October 19–21, 2018 | Registration: contact Peninsula art League or use this Registration Form | Registration questions? Email Carlene Salazar.

Landscape painting poses unique challenges that require a genre-specific approaches. In this in-depth, 3-day workshop, Mitchell Albala will cover the essential concepts and practices that have made his landscape painting book the best-selling landscape guide in the country. Working from photographs in the slower, more controlled environment of the studio, you’ll be guided through a series of exercises that will break down each phase of the landscape painting process into manageable parts. Topics to be covered:

  • site selection and the requirements subjects must have in order to translate well into a painting
  • the proper way to use reference photos
  • simplification and massing
  • how to compose using a limited focus
  • landscape composition
  • how to start a painting with a shape and value orientation
  • color strategies
  • paint handling

Lessons are applicable to both plein air and studio work. This workshop is ideal for those who want a thorough introduction to Mitchell’s approach, or those who want to paint under his guidance.

Level: This workshop is not suitable for first-time painters (those who have never painted or mixed color at all), but is ideally suited for plein air or studio landscape painters who want to strengthen their skills in landscape. Media: Suitable for oil and acrylic painters, but not watercolor.