plein air

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.

Summary
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.

Format
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.

Registration
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.

Blake Garden Did Not Disappoint

Photo of a woman with a viewfinder

Finding the best composition in a field of flowers.

Photo of a man painting

A sunlit path makes very dark shadows.

Photo of a mom and daughter

These students are clearly having too much fun!

Yesterday was our first Plein Air Fridays session at the Blake Garden. The day was beautiful and the temperature, perfect. This Berkeley garden did not disappoint those of us who were hoping for an afternoon free of cold wind and overcast skies. Everybody was on time and we met near the reflecting pool, where dappled light dotted the grassy area around it.
After a demo on how to use a viewfinder and how start an acrylic painting, the students dispersed and I began making rounds. I forgot how much walking is involved when students are spread out. The Blake Garden spans ten acres!
There are two spaces left in this class. Registration ends June 30.

Blake Garden Delights

For our first visit to the Blake Garden, I thought I should talk about its enduring appeal to east bay painters. While the garden “contains a large diversity of plant materials that grow in our Mediterranean type climate” as well as “new and historic garden design and structures” I’ve long suspected this is not why artists flock to this enclosed space. It is more because, unlike other (and perhaps more) popular gardens in the area, this one packs a lot into a relatively small and it seems to have been designed with the plein air painter in mind. No, there aren’t a lot of benches, but there is plenty of shade near its most popular attractions, and a high number of secluded nooks and crannies where one may paint undisturbed. If to this you add that it lies nestled in a very quiet neighborhood, protected from the worst winds, you realize what a jewel it is.

No matter what the result is, the garden encourages you to reflect on your work. This is a place where you can hear your own thoughts, where you can listen to your quiet artist voice. Seven years ago, I was able to write this after a day of painting at the garden: “I didn’t feel inspired by the reflecting pool or anything else. For some reason, i didn’t feel very talkative and retreated into the northern part of the garden. At the bottom, I saw a pool formed by creek water and then I saw a bench. It felt like the place was beckoning me, so I stayed. Onlookers had to leave the path to come see what I was doing, so I felt safe. I was going for the feeling of the place. I love this painting.”

I miss dearly a painter friend of mine, who often wrote about the Blake Garden on our East Bay Landscape Painter’s blog. Even though she was a fantastic painter, on some days she struggled, and let her frustration flow freely: “This painting was a struggle to work on, after my easel broke and I had to work on the ground. The colors developed in a way I liked but in the end I lost some of the composition and may work on it from memory. I like Blake Garden but never get a painting I like there.” But other days were better: “What a good idea it was to go to Blake Gardens this week. Every year when the fruit trees start to bloom I want to find a place to paint them. The cherry and plum are blooming on Thousand Oaks.”

What a wonderful assurance it must be to know that no matter how our paintings may turn out, the Blake Garden will always welcome us with open arms.

Plein Air Class Starts June 2

photo of two women students painting outdoors.

Students bring a variety of setups to this outdoor class

Dust off that acrylic or oil set you received last christmas. Act on your resolution to spend more time on your own development. or finally embark on an activity that brings the satisfaction of learning something new. 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.

I am excited to announce that will be teaching this popular class again this summer, but this time I will be offering plein air in a different way. Students will be able to buy a package of six Friday afternoon classes and take them in June, July or the beginning of August. The fee is $200. Learn more here!

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