"Eureka Street" 16x20, oil
My last post, How to Prepare for a Plein Air Workshop, must have scared off a few people because no one made any comments. Hopefully, I haven't also scared off prospective students! But truly, the more you can prepare before spending big bucks on a workshop, the more you'll get out of it. And I'm not really as grumpy as I may have sounded. Past students say I'm quite tame.
I have one more skill you might want to address - design. Now, design is a complex issue, and one can spend a lifetime learning how to create designs that aren't clichéd and overused. But students should have some basic ideas of what a good design consists of. A lead-in for the eye, perhaps, and a balanced (but not boring) composition. Sometimes I'll see a student paint a really well-done rock, but it'll be smack-dab in the middle of the canvas. The painting would have been a better piece if the student had given some thought to design.
If you look at Edgar Payne's book, Guide to Outdoor Composition, you'll find many thumbnail sketches that can serve as templates for your work. The "U," the "Z," or the "balance beam" can be applied to most landscape situations. You can memorize a few and practice fitting your landscapes into them.
Arthur Wesley Dow, in his book Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color, states that design cannot be taught but is learned through exposure to good design. The more great paintings you study, the more intuitive your design skills will become. (Intuition is nothing special, just well-digested experience.) Not near a museum? Not a problem. Many works are available on the Internet now.