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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More Paintings on the Pumphouse Studio Gallery Blog

Wake of the Flood 9x12 oil #1249
by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available at Pumphouse Studio Gallery Blog

In case you missed my post, I am now offering for sale demos and sketches from my Arizona inventory in my Pumphouse Studio Gallery Blog.  I'm a productive painter, and now it's time to clear out space for some newer work.  Please note that these paintings will be unavailable after I begin my annual journey east to Campobello Island.  Cut-off date is April 15.

These pieces are personally hand-picked and some of my favorites but priced to sell.  They will be shipped unframed to keep the price even lower.  Shipping within the lower 48 states is included!

One of the best ways to find out about these paintings
is to subscribe to the blog feed via e-mail, below.  You can also see them posted in the right-hand column of this blog.  (If you get this post via e-mail, you won't see it.)  Thank you, and perhaps one of these will find its way happily into your home!

Enter your email address to subscribe to Pumphouse Studio Gallery Blog:

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Plein Air Painting Workshop at Scottsdale Artist's School

Plein air color studies by Michael Chesley Johnson

If you've been keeping up with my blog, you'll remember that I'm the award judge at the annual Arizona Plein Air Painters exhibition this April. This year, the show will be in Scottsdale at the Scottsdale Artists' School--and I'm very excited to be teaching a workshop along with it.

The three-day plein air painting workshop runs from Friday through Sunday, April 22-24, 2016.  I'll be taking students to some stunning locations around the Phoenix area at a beautiful time of year.  I'm eager to share how I "capture the moment" without sacrificing mood and magic in both oil and pastel.

By the way, lately I've been teaching how to use a painting knife, so I expect I'll be sharing my knowledge of that, too.  Additionally, I've been teaching field-study-to-studio, in which we gather field references and take them to the studio so we can create works that are more finished.  Time permitting, I'll share this as well.  In this post I've included a few of the color studies from a recent study-to-studio workshop.

This workshop is $400.  For details and to register:

For those of you who aren't going to the Plein Air Convention and Expo in Tucson, my workshop is a good opportunity to get a dose of plein air practice and feedback.  If you are going to PACE, you might consider staying around longer for this workshop so I can share my personal approach to outdoor painting.  By the way, my seasonal Sedona workshops are now full, so this is the last opportunity to study with me in Arizona until next fall.

Finally, for more details on the APAP exhibition, please visit

Thunder Mountain color study, including
prickly pear detail, by Michael Chesley Johnson

Camelback color study, including detail
of hillside and juniper, by Michael Chesley Johnson

Spring Creek color study, including broad study
of pathway approach, by Michael Chesley Johnson

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Artist-in-Residence for Goldenstein Gallery and L'Auberge de Sedona

Thunder Mountain Shadows, 11x14 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available at Goldenstein Gallery

As part of my new relationship with Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona, I'll be participating this year in its Artist-in-Residence program.  The AIR program is a cooperative effort by the gallery and L'Auberge de Sedona, one of the town's most scenic and elegant resorts, to present to free, educational opportunities with gallery artists.

For me, this involves demonstrating once a month at L'Auberge down on the banks of Oak Creek.  If you've been following my blog over the years, I've painted there regularly for the Sedona Plein Air Festival.  I'm looking forward to setting up my easel by the creek's quiet, sun-dappled waters and under the sycamores again.  If you haven't been to L'Auberge, you're in for a treat!  Plus, there is a very fine restaurant right on the water.

I'll be demonstrating this Sunday (February 14, 2016, Valentine's Day) from 12-2 by the creekside restaurant.  I hope you'll join us at 301 L'Auberge Lane, Sedona, Arizona.  (Their website is

Also, yesterday I delivered two more paintings to the gallery.  I've added their images to this post, but it's always good to see them in person, which you can do at Goldenstein Gallery, 70 Dry Creek Road, Sedona, Arizona.  (The website is

Warrior 16x20 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available at Goldenstein Gallery


Monday, February 8, 2016

Painting the Ocean While in the High Desert – and a Poll!

Choice A:
"Afternoon at Otter Cliff"
12x24 oil/panel by Michael Chesley Johnson

Choice B:
"Toward Otter Point"
16x20 oil/canvas by Michael Chesley Johnson
Vote for your favorite of the two!  Scroll down to the end of this post for the poll.

This may sound odd, but while enjoying hikes in the high desert in Red Rock Country this winter, I've been spending my studio time painting coastal Maine.

Why? This year marks two important anniversaries for the National Park Service.  First, the NPS turns 100.  To celebrate, the Grand Canyon Association is asking artists who have been invited to the annual plein air event this fall to create one studio painting each that will feature a favorite park.  I've spent a great deal of time painting Acadia National Park in Maine, so I've chosen to highlight one of my special spots there.  It's a view of the famous 110-foot Otter Cliff.  (More about that below.)

A second anniversary is that of Acadia National Park itself.  It, too, enjoys a centennial this year.  Although it didn't become a National Park until 1919, it was established as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916, and that is the anniversary being celebrated.  As part of the celebration, Argosy Gallery in Bar Harbor has asked me to create two dozen small paintings of scenes within the Park.  I'm having a lot of fun selecting locations.  Some you would expect, such as ocean views, but some you might not, such as swamps and gate houses. These 6x8 oils will be exhibited and sold starting July 1st at the gallery.  An opening reception is scheduled for that day; I will post details later plus images of the paintings once they're done.

Now back to Otter Cliff.  When Samuel de Champlain first explored the area in 1604, his ship struck a submerged rock just off the prominence, forcing him to spend the winter in a nearby cove making repairs.  Three hundred years later, in the early part of the 20th century, Otter Cliff was home to an important naval radio station.  John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who donated a good deal of land to create the Park, asked the Navy to move it.  The Navy agreed to include the parcel of land in his donation, so long as he would build another one, which he did on nearby Schoodic Point, across Frenchman Bay.  Today, Otter Cliff is perhaps best well-known as a spectacular headland.  Rock-climbers love scaling its 110-foot, nearly-vertical face.  Although I'm not a rock-climber, I've always enjoyed walking the trail or painting a view of it from my perch among the granite slabs that line the shore.

Although the Park is sometimes subject to awe-inspiring storms, I prefer to paint quieter versions of this part of the coast.  With that in mind, I made two paintings featuring Otter Cliff.  One is a more panoramic 12x24 format; the other is a more square 16x20.  I like them both so much I can't decide which one to send to the Grand Canyon exhibition.  If you have a moment, please vote down below.  Images of the paintings are embedded in this post. Thank you!

UPDATE:  The public has decided!  Choice B, "Toward Otter Point," will be going to the Kolb Studio at Grand Canyon this fall for the exhibit.

Some of the studies and sketches I made
while working on the two Acadia NP paintings.
Here are the poll results:

Overwhelming, the public voted for "B - Toward Otter Point"

By the way, if you'd like to paint on Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park, I will be teaching my annual plein air workshop in Bernard, Maine, this fall, September 26-29. For details, please visit

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

New Work at Goldenstein Gallery

Slide Rock Fault 16x20 oil/canvas by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available at Goldenstein Gallery

Waterfall 36x36 oil/canvas by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available at Goldenstein Gallery

I'm happy to announce that I am now represented in Sedona by Goldenstein Gallery.  Goldenstein is the premier contemporary art gallery in northern Arizona and has a fantastic collection of paintings, sculpture and furnishings.  I recently delivered two new paintings, images of which I've posted here.  You'll note that "Waterfall" is the featured painting for my book, Outdoor Study to Studio:  Take Your Plein Air Paintings to the Next Level.  "Slide Rock Fault" is a piece I painted on-location at Slide Rock State Park.

Goldenstein Gallery is located at 70 Dry Creek Road Sedona, AZ 86336 / 928- 204-1765 /

By the way, I am also part of the gallery's Artist-in-Residence program.  For this program, I will be demonstrating at L'Auberge de Sedona on Sunday, February 14 (Valentine's Day), from 12-2.  L'Auberge is Sedona's favorite luxury creekside resort located at 301 L'Auberge Lane in Uptown.  I'll be demonstrating again on Sunday, March 13, and Sunday, April 17, in case you miss the first one.  The resort's website is

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Who Wants to Paint in Tuscany with Me?

"Firenze" by Simon.zfn - Simone Zuffanelli.
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

When you think of Tuscany, what comes to mind?  Wine, art, history—well, that's enough to get me there!

Tuscany is the birthplace of the Renaissance and was home to many artists of that time such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo, not to mention their great patrons, the Medicis.  Today, it's famous for beautiful towns and cities, vineyards and wineries, and museums and restaurants.  It's a popular destination for painters, as well.

With that in mind, I am pleased to announce that I will be leading a painting retreat in Tuscany June  16-23, 2018 in conjunction with Artravelitaly.

We'll be housed at the historic villa of Fattoria Bacìo.  In the heart of the Chianti hills, 20 miles from Florence and 3 miles from Certaldo, you will find our hilltop retreat nestled in 340 acres of olive groves and vineyards.  Fattoria Bacìo, with its 19th century villa and adjoining farm-houses, has been lovingly restored in an authentic Tuscan style.

Fattoria Bacìo
With excursions to the medieval settlement of Certaldo alto, Siena and its spacious piazza, the street market at San Gimignano, the hamlet of Barberino, along with a special visit to the ceramic studio of La Meridina, there'll be plenty to see and paint.  But it won't be all about painting.  This will be a true retreat with lots of time built in for sightseeing and enjoying the culture.

Price: Starts at € 2,200, which includes lodging, transportation to and from the airport in Florence, daily transportation to locations and all meals.  (That's about $2400 USD at today's exchange rate.)

If you're interested,  please follow this link for a downloadable brochure and contact to me to get on the list.

I hope you'll join us!

Certaldo alto
By Davide Papalini (Own work)
CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Sienna Piazza
By O.Strama (Aufgenommen im August/September 2004 von O.Strama)
[GFDL ( or
CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
"San Gimignano" by No machine-readable author provided.
RicciSpeziari~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). -
No machine-readable source provided.
Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)..
 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -