Desert Oil Painting Workshops Schedule - A Catalog



I have been organizing a variety of plein air oil painting workshops for the summer and fall (and getting the permits for a few more), in a diversity of outdoor locations in California and Nevada. These range from a few hours, to a day or weekend, to an entire painting vacation package where just about everything is covered--including lodging and meals. 

Browse the selection below and register early, as workshops are limited to 10 people. These are ideal for beginning artists who want to see and work with the different kinds of materials that are available to paint landscapes outside in beautiful locations. I provide the easels and paints, you provide the creativity. 

Workshops: 
  • Shoshone Oil Painting Workshop
  • Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Plein Air Painting Workshop
  • Desert National Wildlife Refuge Plein Air Painting Workshop
  • Mono Lake Aspen Color Oil Painting Vacation Workshop

Shoshone Oil Painting Workshop

October 28 to October 29, 2017

Phainopepla in the mesquite.


Beginners welcome! If you have never lifted a paintbrush in your life, this class will help you get a start with the wonderful world of oil painting. This workshop is designed for anyone who wants to try painting and learn how to start depicting landscapes and natural history subjects, both indoors and out in the field in the beautiful Mojave Desert.

If you have oil painting experience and want to learn more about traditional techniques I will show you what I have researched about landscape painting methods from history, through the Renaissance to the French Academy, and Impressionism.
Supplies will be provided! You can bring your own drawing and painting material, sketchbooks, and plein air equipment if you want. But no lists will be needed, just bring your curiosity and I will show you the materials to dive deeply into oil painting. (Bring your binoculars and camera too.)
Students will learn about materials to prepare surfaces for archival oil painting, drawing and sketching, and the diversity of grounds, brushes, pigments, and painting media. We will discuss shadow and light, underpainting and overpainting, and the difference between layering in oils (the real key to oils that you cannot get with any other medium), and quick paintings done in one sitting (alla prima) to capture the effects of daylight outdoors. Simple and easy to understand exercises will get you started. I will give presentations on history and methods as well.


Badlands near Shoshone remind me of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.


The main class will be from 9 AM – 3 PM Saturday (includes demonstrations with materials, presentations on oil painting, and plein air sessions). We will have lunch and dinner at the Crowbar Inn, which has vegetarian items. 

Our itinerary: Saturday, October 28

  • 9 AM - meet at the Flower Building in Shoshone, introduction.
  • Slide presentation on the history of landscape painting, introducing some of the materials and techniques we will use.
  • Hands on course about oil painting materials, drawing materials, supports, and media.
  • Intro to oil paint and media: each students will experiment with a small support, brushes, and paint with different media (linseed oil, solvents, damar varnish, etc.) to learn about the different working properties of oil paint.
  • Then we will go outside to sketch, look at the desert hills, take natural history notes, and observe the sunlight and color of shadows. There are some beautiful nature trails next to town and the Amargosa River that harbor birds such as phainopeplas and verdins, as well as possible breeding Least Bell's vireos!
  • Noon - LUNCH
  • 1 PM - Exercise in layering and blocking in an underpainting with various techniques and colors, using different traditional methods.
  • Talk on topics such as preparatory drawing, shading, composition, light and shadow, and use of photography. Part of my library of various art books will be passed around to review the work of traditional landscape masters.
  • We will then go outside to practice painting a landscape using techniques learned.
  • 3PM - free time break, dinner.
  • Meet after dinner for sunset sketches in oil to capture the colors.

Sunday, October 29

  • 9 AM - nature trail walks, visit the pupfish pond, sketching, talking about how to see and light and colors and translate your observations into oil paint. 
  • Noon - end of workshop. You are free to visit Death Valley National Park nearby and I can give you ideas for places to go to.
Hotel accommodations and camping are available in the town of Shoshone http://www.shoshonevillage.com. There is a store, gas station and cafĂ© in town. Meals and accommodations not included.
Limit 10 people.
$100 materials included 

Calico cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii)

View of Death Valley from Dante's View, Death Valley National Park.

Restored spring pools, brooks, and wetlands host rare species.

Shoshone Village downtown.

New rooms at the Shoshone Inn.

Moonrise over Eagle Mountain.


Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Plein Air Painting Workshop

September 16, 2017 - 10 AM to 3 PM

Ash Meadows, an oasis in the Mojave Desert.


A day-long oil painting workshop where students learn about nature and landscape painting. All materials provided: easels and paint boxes will be set up in the outdoor patio of the visitor center in the morning, and Laura will show students various materials and methods for plein air painting outside. Students will also hear an introduction about the refuge, wildlife, rare species, and conservation biology by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Crystal Springs, wetlands, ash trees and screwbean mesquite groves, and the surrounding limestone mountains present amazing views and subjects to paint and sketch. Bring your binoculars for birding! Picnic lunches will be provided at noon (bring your own snacks and drinks too), and afterwards Laura will demonstrate how to start a landscape painting along one of the many easy and beautiful trails near the visitor center. Students will be provided with materials to paint their own landscape for the afternoon in the shade of trail pull-outs and mesquite groves. Laura will also discuss the various plants, wildlife, and natural history of the area.
The art workshop will occur on September 16, 2017, from 10 AM to 3 PM in the refuge new visitor center patio and out on the boardwalks. The visitor center is next to a large parking lot with easy access. Don't miss this opportunity to experience the refuge from a unique perspective, with both art and science emphasized.
$80 materials included.
REGISTER

Crystal Spring bubbles out of the ground and has pupfish.

The new state-of-the-art visitor center at the wildlife refuge.

Trails and boardwalks wind through the saltgrass meadows and screw bean mesquite groves to springs and streams.

Desert National Wildlife Refuge Plein Air Painting Workshop

September 23. 2017 - 10 AM to 3 PM


View at sunset of the Sheep Range from a trail pullout.


A day-long oil painting workshop where students learn about nature and landscape painting. All materials provided: easels and paint boxes will be set up in the outdoor patio of the visitor center in the morning, and Laura will show students various materials and methods for plein air painting outside. Students will also hear an introduction about the refuge, wildlife, rare species, and conservation biology by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff at Desert National Wildlife Refuge. Corn Creek springs, cottonwood/mesquite groves, and the Sheep Range present amazing views and subjects to paint and sketch. Bring your binoculars for birding!
Picnic lunches will be provided at noon (bring your own snacks and drinks too), and afterwards Laura will demonstrate how to start a landscape painting along one of the many easy and beautiful trails near the visitor center. Students will be provided with materials to paint their own landscape for the afternoon in the shade of cottonwood trees and historic orchards. Laura will also discuss the various plants, wildlife, and natural history of the area.

The art workshop will occur on September 23, 2017, from 10 AM to 3 PM. The visitor center is next to a large parking lot with easy access, half an hour north of Las Vegas, Nevada, off US-95. 
Don't miss this opportunity to experience the refuge from a unique perspective, with both art and science emphasized.
$80 materials provided. 
Cottonwoods and willows at Corn Creek springs. Mt. Charleston is in the distance.


New trails and boardwalks by the refuge visitor center.



Outdoor sculpture art along the trails.

The Sheep Range glows at sunset.
And if you are interested in taking a vacation this summer or fall, while learning how to further your artistic skills, take a look at our oil painting workshop vacations at Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra of California.

Mono Lake Aspen Color Oil Painting Vacation Workshop

September 29 to October 2, 2017

Fall aspen colors near Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra.


Want to take a fall color painting vacation where all you have to do is show up? The aspens will be golden at this time of the year in the Sierra Nevada. This workshop is designed for students wishing to discover oil painting methods and materials at a beautiful location. We provide all the oil painting supplies so you don't have to bring them, along the shores of Mono Lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada of California.

If you have never picked up a paintbrush you will enjoy the easy explanations of how to paint. If you are already a painter, you will like the variety of landscapes here, and undertake a deeper exploration of traditional oil painting methods.

Mono Lake with tufa.


An all-inclusve trip including rooms and meals: you will stay the weekend at the Tioga Lodge in Lee Vining, and delicious healthy meals will be catered to the class by Tioga Lodge's expert chef and staff from their Hammond Station Restaurant locally. A vegan meal option will be available. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided Saturday, as well as Sunday breakfast and picnic lunch. All you have to do is arrive at the lodge and we will take care of you as you learn about oil painting techniques and practice painting landscapes.

The Tioga Lodge at Mono Lake has rooms in historic cabins, a conference room, and gourmet restaurant, along with shady lawns for painting, a gazebo, and a creek running through the property. Some of the buildings were moved long ago from the ghost town of Bodie and newly retsored. Private access to the shores of Mono Lake will ensure we have plenty of options to paint en plein air.

Schedule:
Students arrive Friday for the evening. I will be there to help greet you.
Saturday morning continental breakfast. Breakfast options such as Tioga scrambles and Banana pancakes. After breakfast we meet at the conference room from 9 AM-Noon. I will provide all materials.
  • Meet in the conference room after breakfast for an Introduction, handouts will explain what students will learn.
  • 30 minute Powerpoint presentation on oil painting history and methods.
  • Demonstration of oil painting materials and methods in the meeting room. Set up of easels and painting materials. Students practice painting methods such as underpainting, layering, the use of different painting mediums, color theory, composition, and how to start a landscape outdoors.
  • Lunch - Noon - Catered Tioga Special chicken salad or Vegan Eight Ingredient Fried Rice. 
  • 1-4 PM outside on the grounds at the gazebo, by the creek, looking at the historic buildings, on the grass. Aspen trees will be in fall color and we will concentrate on painting methods to capture the glow of golden leaves against mountain backdrops. Set up of painting easels, a portable table of demo materials. I will provide all materials. Students will start their own landscape outside, and we will work with different methods to capture the color of shadows based on different traditional methods: brown suace, Impressionist, local color, etc. The use of framing aides will be explored to compose a scene. Students will get to use a variety of different easels, paint boxes, paints, brushes, and mediums to explore what they like best.
  • Dinner - 6 PM Catered. Choice of BBQ pork ribs, Basil pesto tilapia, or vegetarian Ginger delight with tofu.
Sunday morning - Continental breakfast.
  • Meet in the Conference room after breakfast at 9 AM for a 2 hour Powerpoint presentation and discussion on more advanced painting methods. I will provide all materials. Informal fun critique of yesterday's paintings.
  • 11 AM - 2 PM go to Mono Lake shore to paint outdoors, with demos and students trying different methods with guidance. Learn to paint water and sky. A picnic lunch will be provided.
  • The rest of the day will be free time to explore and paint outdoors, with guidance, discussion, and teaching suggestions. We may choose to venture to the nearby Mono Lake Scenic Area Visitor Center, the tufa formations and boardwalks of the state park at the lake, or visit the town of Lee Vining. Option of carpooling to one of the best aspen color displays in California with a sweeping vista of groves.
Sunday dinner optional and free to choose local restaurants in town. Optional set-up to paint the sunset on Mono Lake that evening.

Check out Monday morning, some students may need to check out Sunday--let me know.
You may choose rooms with single bed or double beds. We are flexible to options, just let me know at lauracunninghamart@gmail.com.

Limit 10 people, minumum 3. $900 includes materials, lodging, food, and conference room rental. $200 deposit can be arranged to reserve a space, balance due 7 days before start of workshop.

Mono Lake and the Sierra Nevada.

Snowy Sierra view with Mono lake.

Fall color aspen trees.

Golden Aspen in late September in the Eastern Sierra.

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