Plein Air Painting Workshops in Coastal Maine
(Looking for the painting retreats? Go here.)
Join me in Lubec, Maine for a Plein Air Painting Workshop! The workshop is based in the historic and scenic fishing village of Lubec with possible visits to the nearby Canadian island, Campobello. Only 90 miles from Bar Harbor, Lubec and Campobello comprise a quiet, beautiful backwater. Think romantic lighthouses, cobblestone beaches, cliff overlooks, broad meadows, working harbours – and lobster! Lubec is a historic working waterfront with many opportunities for the painter. Adjacent Campobello Island is home to both the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park and the Herring Cove Provincial Park. Although passports are optional for this workshop, a passport will allow you to visit Michael’s studio on Campobello.
Are you new to plein air painting? Or do you have some experience but would like to hone your craft in a small group? 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. 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.
2024: July 29-August 1 (Monday-Thursday)
- 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.
- Before you sign up, please note that a passport, passport card or Enhanced Driver’s License is suggested. This will allow you to visit Michael’s Campobello Island studio.
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. 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 demonstrate in oil or pastel, but you may use any medium. Michael teaches painting principles that apply to all media, although watercolor is handled differently from opaque media.
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, although watercolor is handled differently from the opaque media Michael demonstrates in. You’ll receive a supply list upon registration. You can also view one here.
9. Where can I stay?
Lubec Lodging (in MAINE in the UNITED STATES)
- West Quoddy Station (old US Coast Guard campus) www.quoddyvacation.com
- Inn at the Wharf (rooms, suites and apartments, restaurant] ( www.theinnatthewharf.com, 207-733-4400. cell: 239-571-0208)
- Peacock House Inn (a B&B, www.peacockhouseinn.com)
- Also, see www.lubecrentalproperties.com or www.villagepropertyservices.com for lodging options in Lubec. If you’re a camper, there is camping available at Herring Cove Provincial Park on Campobello Island and also at Cobscook Bay State Park near Lubec.
Campobello Lodging (in NEW BRUNSWICK in CANADA)
- Owen House, A Country Inn and Gallery (www.owenhouse.ca, 506-752-2977) 10% discount to students.
- An Island Chalet (www.anislandchalet.com, 506-752-2971)
- Whale Watch Motel (www.campobellowhalewatchmotel.ca, 888-752-2008, off-season: 506-756-9894)
- Campobello Summer Cottages (www.cyberrentals.com #120461, 117215, 133795, 812-455-1890) 10% discount to students.
10. How Do I Get There?
By Air. From the US. The closest airport is Bangor, ME. Bangor is 2.5 hours by auto from Lubec. (Another option is the Bar Harbor airport in Trenton, also 2.5 hours away.) When you head out for Lubec (see “By Auto” below), you have two choices for a route. The quickest and least trafficky is the interior route: Rte 9 to Wesley, then Rte 192 to Machias and then Rte 189 to Lubec. The coastal route, Rte 1, is scenic but extremely busy during high tourist season (July 4th through Labor Day), especially around Ellsworth.
From Canada. The closest airport is in Saint John, New Brunswick, also 2.5 hours away. (See www.saintjohnaiport.com.) From there, follow US 1 to either Letete (see “By Auto,” below) to St Stephen.
By Auto. If you are coming from the US or mainland Canada, head for Lubec, Maine. During July and August, when the Deer Island Ferry is running, you can also come from mainland Canada via Letete, NB. (You will still need a car!) A bridge connects Lubec and Campobello. There is no fee for crossing, but you will cross the US/Canada border and will need to have appropriate travel papers.
For ferry information, see www.deerisland.nb.ca/ferries.htm.
11. What to Expect
Lubec is uncrowded, quiet and beautiful. (Which is why we live here!) Besides lodging, Lubec has restaurants, a gas station, a small grocery store, a medical center and gift shops. Nearby Campobello has a grocery store, pharmacy and restaurants. (There is no gas station on Campobello.) There are no art supply stores, so you must bring all the art supplies you need.
With several parks nearby — the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, the Herring Cove Provincial Park, West Quoddy Head, Cobscook Bay State Park — there’s plenty of hiking and biking. There’s also whale watching tours and deep-sea fishing, art galleries and gift shops. The Summer Keys program in Lubec sponsors a free weekly concert where you can hear world-class performers. (See www.summerkeys.com.) And don’t forget that we have plenty of fresh local seafood!
12. What to Bring
July and August are usually warm and dry. Still, be prepared for the occasional day of rain and cool weather. Although we won’t paint in the rain, for your own comfort bring a raincoat and warm layers to dress in. We may paint in the fog. We have a mosquito or two, so bring insect repellent if the little critters bother you.
Although the workshop is based in the US, a passport, passport card or Enhanced Driver’s License is SUGGESTED for the workshop. This will allow you to visit Michael’s Campobello Island studio and to paint in the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park. (For the latest on entry into Canada: Check the Canadian ArriveCan site for information.) For travel information, visit www.getyouhome.gov or www.travel.state.gov.
You will want to make sure you bring all the art supplies you need. There are no art supply stores within a day’s drive. The studio has no supplies to sell or loan. If you’re flying or traveling light and don’t want to pack your easel, we may have one available for rent. It is $25/week, and you must reserve it in advance as we have a very limited number.
There is a frame shop that stocks a limited amount supplies. If you are planning to buy from them, call to see what they have, and if they don’t have what you need, they will order it for you. For more information:
Woodwind Custom Framers & Gallery – 10% off for students! Let Holly know you are taking the workshop.
23 Main Street, Machias, ME 04654 / (207) 255-3727