Plein Air Wednesdays

Photo of a man painting

A sunlit path makes very dark shadows.

This Summer, spend time painting au plein air at several beautiful great East Bay outdoor locations. Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced painting student, you will enjoy discovering beginner-friendly painting spots, and improving your technique in the company of new friends. You’ll receive support through the difficulties of painting outdoors.

Learn how to paint the sights you love with as much or as little feedback as you desire. Use the media of your choice. I can help you with acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache or pastel. We’ll spend two weeks at each painting location so that students can either begin a new painting or complete the one begun in the previous session.

This class is taught on Wednesdays, from 12-3 pm. Each class consists of a rotating 30 min introduction to painting concepts that may be a demo or a discussion with examples, followed by 2+ hours of painting.All locations are in Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond and Hercules in beautiful places. They will be announced on the first day of class. You will receive accurate driving instructions and Rebeca’s phone in case you get lost.

Do not register on this website, because the Plein Air Wednesdays class is part of the Richmond Art Center’s Studio Program.  Go to the RAC site instead and register soon as this class is very popular. They ask that you please register before the first class.

This is a rough outline of the class:

July 11, Session 1 at Blake Garden, Kensington
Get to know each other, review of materials, supplies and gear. Goals for the class. Aspect ratios. How to use a viewfinder.

July 18, Session 2 at Blake Garden, Kensington
How to begin a landscape painting part 1. Foreground, middle ground, background.

July 25, Session 3 Miller Knox Regional Park, Point Richmond
How to begin a landscape painting part 2. Focal point.

Aug 1, Session 4 at Miller Knox Regional Park, Point Richmond
Selecting pigments for a Bay Area landscape. Limited palettes.

Aug 8, Session 5 at Point Molate Beach Park
Priorities, planning your time. The dangers of overpainting

Aug 15, Session 6 at Point Molate Beach Park
The role of values in a landscape.

Aug 22, Session 7 at Fleming Point, Albany
The cell phone as a tool of the landscape painter.

Aug 29, Session 8 at Fleming Point, Albany
Revising from photos.

Bad Weather
Bad weather is defined as double-digit wind speeds, rain, cold temperatures in the fifties, all-day thick fog, or a dangerous heat wave. Please note that in the event of bad weather the session you will be notified via email and the session will be carried out in the painting studio of the Richmond Art Center, 12 – 3 pm. Please bring unfinished work and reference photos to work from.

Learning To Paint – On A Budget

Are you a painting student on a budget? Like most artists (except perhaps for Jim Carrey and George Bush) I am frugal with art supplies. Not only do their prices climb up every year, there’s no need to waste what I already have. Some students have asked me to describe my favorite tricks for saving money on supplies, and so I have decided to write about it in a tongue-in-cheek way.

Photo of the front of a box of Russian gouache.

I cannot read cyrillic, therefore cannot tell which brand.

Where should we aim to cut costs? Ok. Let’s think of two kinds of learners. There is the student who is deciding whether painting is something they will like, and there is the student who already does a fair amount of painting during vacations, classes and workshops.

If you are figuring out if painting is for you, keep it a secret. Don’t let your relatives or close friends pick out your gear or supplies. There are many many choices, and you might end up with stuff you can´t use that you will not be able to exchange. If you already “spilled the beans,” tell them to give you gift certificates. Start perusing Craigslist and Nextdoor, noticing the art supplies people are selling or giving away, and don’t buy anything yet. There is a reason everybody is selling french easels, for example. They are sooo heavy! Next, get on Google and type “acrylic or oil painting supply list” and read what art teachers are asking people to buy. This will give you an idea of what is normal to use in a painting class with that media. Then wait to the twice a year art store sales at the beginning of each semester. A good store with lots of different brands and low prices is Jerry’s Artarama. But if you have more time, follow the tips below.

Photo of a box with paint tubes.

Brand-new gouache courtesy of a neighbor.

If you have been painting for a while, read on. Just keep in mind that I want you to save money with the intention of spending it on quality paint. This is the one area where you should “bite the bullet.” For everything else, here’s my list:

  1. Easels.Craigslist, garage sales in affluent neighborhoods, or Nextdoor are the best sources for both field and studio easels. Avoid vintage easels unless they have never been used because their hardware might not work. Test for actual wood and quality hardware. Assemble the easel in front of the seller to make sure all the parts are there. Offer to pay 30-50% of the original price. Your local art center probably gets field easel donations that they cannot use. Leave your name and phone number with them. Expect to pay something for it.
  2. Painting grounds. Canvas, masonite and paper have all skyrocketed in price, but if you don’t plan to sell your work or show it in a gallery, there is no reason to practice on expensive surfaces. Prime some cardboard or matting board with acrylic gesso. The day after Christmas usually finds me hard at work in my studio cutting cardboard into pieces I can paint on. Fun! You can also stretch and prime your own canvas if your hands are strong, but you might end up spending more time on this than on painting.
  3. Brushes. Never buy them at an actual brick-and-mortar store. Go to the store to check out brands and sizes, then order them online. If you work with larger brushes, it’s ok to get those cheaper brushes made in China.
    Photo of two acrylic brushes.

    These come in a package of ten sizes, and you can purchase them in round, flat, nylon or bristle.

    Their bristle is usually ok, but the ferrules fall off. No problem! Twist the ferrule off, score the wood tip with an x-acto knife, and re-attach it to the ferrule with wood glue. Let it dry for 30 hrs. If you do end up purchasing a high-quality brush for details or sharp lines, do not use it for anything but its intended purpose. Wash it well after every use with gentle soap, blot it dry and store it in a case.

  4. Paper. Recycling centers, estate and garage sales, dumpsters and printers all have something in common:  paper they must get rid of or recycle. Craigslist and Nextdoor are always great for this, if you can quickly pick up what your neighbors are discarding. Often you must compete with public school teachers, so don’t wait. Recycling centers that sell extra supplies are also coo,l but my experience is that I can never arrive early enough to take advantage of the spoils. Send an email to your freinds asking them to keep an eye out for you. This is how I used to obtain paper when I was teaching high school art.
  5. Paint Are old paints of good quality worth it? Yes, when the tubes are not hard. If the paint is good but tubes are damaged or fragile, art stores sell empty tubes you can fill with paint squeezed out of old tubes. This works great when the cap is stuck, or when the tube has a perforation and paint is oozing out of it. E-Bay sells paint tubes in lots, but unless the vendor can assure you the paint is still viable, I would not buy them. I would instead use E-Bay to try out new paints of brands not regularly sold in the US. There are many Russian and English paint brands that are perfectly good and sold at decent prices. Look the brand up on Google to see what people are saying.
  6. Pricey Accessories. Paint knives, viewfinders, table easels etc. Don’t buy these at Michaels or JoAnn because the Chinese goods sold there will fall apart after a couple of uses. If you are checking E-Bay, set the filter to “nearest” to avoid Chinese manufacturing. Look for vintage quality brands such as Loew-Cornell, Grumbacher, and Windsor & Newton. Make an announcement on social media, but provide pictures to help people figure out what you need.

I hope this has helped. Now you are ready to go on an exciting search!

Guide to Acrylic Mediums and Additives

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I am a total beginner (or a more experienced painter). Should I take your classes?
Yes! Not only will you receive individualized attention in a small class setting, you’ll also receive the full benefit of Rebeca’s 10+ years of experience teaching painting to adults and teens alike. Every week, you will receive the agenda for next class and a reminder of any work to be done in advance.

Do you offer any discounts?
Get a friend to enroll online to the classes I offer independently and you get 20% discount. The discount will be reimbursed to you on the first day of class. This discount does not apply to the institutions where I teach; however, the Richmond Art Center offers a discount to Richmond residents.

Do I have to enroll online?
Although I would prefer you do it online, you can also send me a check by mail along with an email with your name, your phone number and the name of the class you want.

Where is your studio located?
My studio is located on Parr Blvd and GiantRd in Richmond, CA. I am currently not teaching in my studio but you can make an appointment to see and purchase my paintings.

Can my teenage son or daughter take this class?
Even though this is a class for adults, teenagers older than 15 can take it. I interview them first to make sure they are interested.

Can I use the materials I already have?
Of course! I can also send you a list of recommended materials if you need one.

How can I contact you with my questions?
Just use the contact form on the sidebar. I check my messages every day and respond promptly.