Plein Air Painting Workshops in the Southwest
Join me in the American Southwest for a Plein Air Painting Workshop! Locations include Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.
Are you new to plein air painting? Or do you have some experience but would like to hone your craft in a small group? The original “Paint Sedona” program! Michael will teach small groups the important fundamentals of plein air painting including selecting a scene, composing, color palettes and more. Any level of student is welcome and in any medium. Great for experienced painters, too! Includes four half-days of tuition. You are responsible for your own meals and lodging. (Occasionally, Michael will teach for other organizations that may have a different format.)
An all-level workshop is for both the novice plein air painter and the experienced one. It is not, however, for a beginning painter–someone who has no experience in painting. Students are expected to know the basics–how to mix color, how to handle a brush, and so on.
Program includes learning the fundamentals of plein air painting: choosing a scene and subject, cropping for an effective design, further explorations in design with value sketches, color usage as it applies to the landscape, and much more.
A typical day starts off with a critique of the previous day’s work, followed by a short lecture in the studio, and then travel to the field, where Michael will first demonstrate. Students will have plenty of time to paint afterward, with Michael going from easel to easel offering help.
Mesa, Arizona / 2024 / Art Fest
- October 26, 2024: Studio-Only Workshop. “Outdoor Study to Studio.” Basic painting knowledge required. All media.
- October 27-28, 2024: One day outdoors, one day studio. “Outdoor Study to Studio.” Basic painting knowledge required. All media.
- For details on any of these (as part of the Art Fest event) go here
New Mexico, Santa Fe / 2025
September 30-October 3, 2025: Plein Air Workshop. All Media.
Bluebird Studios, Santa Fe. Signup and payment through Bluebird Studios. This workshop is for experienced beginners on up to advanced painters.
- Cost of the workshop is USD $300 (unless it’s through another organization, in which case look at the organization’s website for price and signup.)
- Full payment of $300 USD required at signup. Payment is non-refundable unless your reserved place can be filled by another student.
- Payment may be made by check or Zelle.
- Contact Michael to make sure there is space, and then you can make payment either via check or Zelle.
1. What’s are All-Level Group Plein Air Painting Workshops Like?
Michael will teach small groups (typically 4-6 students) the important fundamentals of plein air painting. Any level of student is welcome and in any medium. Workshops will be based in various places in the Southwest. Includes four half-days of tuition. (NOTE: Details on this FAQ sheet are for workshops that Michael runs; workshops for other organizations may have different details such as start/finish times, length of day, number of days, number of students, etc. Check the organization’s website for details.)
This is not a workshop for people with mobility issues. You will need to be able to walk short distances on sometimes-uneven ground with your equipment and carry your own gear. The group will not walk too far from the parking area, but occasionally you may need to negotiate a set of stairs or walk to a viewpoint. There may not be picnic tables or benches available, so if you need a seat or a table, you should consider bringing your own. Make sure your wear sturdy shoes; sandals are unsafe and also present a danger of sunburn. Restrooms may not always be nearby, but painting sessions typically last only two hours.
Although the workshop is for any level of student, from beginner to advanced, we suggest that you be comfortable with your medium of choice. If you have not painted before, we suggest you take an introductory indoor workshop first. This is not a “how to paint” workshop but a “how to see the landscape and become a better painter” workshop.
2. Do I need a car?
Yes, you will need a car. Due to liability insurance, students can’t ride with Michael; we also can’t guarantee that you can get a ride with a student. For plein air workshops, we will be driving up to 15-30 minutes from the studio. Besides, the area offers so much to see and do, why wouldn’t you want a car?
3. What about travelling with paints?
Oil paints you can either ship ahead or put in your checked luggage. You shouldn’t have any problem with them, since they are “artist’s oil colors” made with vegetable oil and have a very high flash point. However, don’t take mediums (e.g. Liquin) or solvents (e.g. Turpenoid), all of which are highly flammable. These you will need to ship ahead.
Pastels you should take in your carry-on luggage. Put them in a container that will be easy for security to open. Make sure the container can be easily secured again so your pastels don’t go spilling down the aisle.
4. What if I’m not doing oil or pastel but using some other medium?
You may work in any medium. Michael will use oil or pastel, but you may use acrylic or gouache. Michael teaches painting principles that apply to all media, although watercolor is handled differently from the opaque media that will be used in demonstrations.
Special Note for Acrylic Painters Working Outdoors: Acrylics dry fast outdoors. Make sure you are prepared to deal with fast-drying conditions. Consider using a Sta-Wet Palette, retarder and mister. Or, try the new, slower-drying acrylics such as Golden Open or Atelier Interactive.
5. What’s the daily schedule for the class?
The workshop consists of four half-days (check schedule for the exact days) that run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Again, this might be different for workshops Michael teaches through an organization.)
6. What should I expect?
Read the workshop descriptions carefully, and if you have specific questions or concerns, please ask Michael. Each day starts off with a critique of previous day’s work, then a talk on fundamentals (picking a subject, value studies and composition, color palettes and more), followed by a demonstration and student painting. Michael goes from student to student, offering help as needed. Feel free to bring a snack or lunch, since the workshop runs till 1 p.m.
7. What’s a good way to prepare for the workshop?
One of the best ways, of course, is to simply – paint! William F. Reese said, “If you paint 3 days a week, you stay the same; if you paint 4, you will improve.” I also recommending reading some good books on plein air painting. If you’ve not painted en plein air or outdoors before, check out my online courses for beginning plein air painters.
8. Can I get a supply list?
Michael will demonstrate in oil and/or pastel, depending on workshop needs. You may work in whatever medium you wish. You’ll receive a supply list upon registration. You can also view one here.