Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mentoring: “Private Plein Air Painting Intensive Study” Program Report 3

Turnaround 9x12 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

What a week it was!  After our first day of very fine weather, the second day saw our town smothered by smoke from a prescribed burn 20 miles away.  We had quarter-mile visibility, if that.  By the time we got to painting, the smoke began to lift, but it still made for a hazy day with weak shadows.  Then a couple of days later, a wind storm blew through with 70 mile-an-hour gusts.  However, we found a side canyon where the wind couldn't touch us.  By lunchtime, though, the valley was blinded by airborne dust.  It was almost as bad as the smoke.  Then, during the night, the prescribed burn blew up into not one but two 1000-acre wildfires.  Fortunately, they lay to the northeast (and sent a vast plume of smoke 134 miles away to Los Alamos, the scene of another prescribed-fire-gone-bad back in 2000.)  Finally, our last day, the wind brought a gentle dusting of snow and temperatures nearly 40 degrees lower than what we'd seen earlier in the week.

Find the Painter!

Despite all the excitement, we had a wonderful week.  Jodi and I focused mostly on painting rocky cliffs, since that is what attracted her most, and also worked on her skills of simplifying complex shapes.  Jodi and her husband, Don, did not stay with us but took the tuition-only option, enjoying a stay in their RV with their two small dogs at the campground at El Morro National Monument.  (The full package, which includes lodging and meals, is $1400, the tuition-only option is $700. Full details at  Now that the week is done, Jodi and Don are off on a special painting project via RV, the details of which Jodi will announce in the future.

Jodi and  Don's RV -- plus the Razr for painting places seldom seen

Location shot for my painting at the top of the post

Jodi hard at work

Now that the final week for our season has ended, Trina and I are off on our journey east.  First stop:  A painting retreat Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, and then Santa Fe, where I have been invited to be a guest of the Plein Air Convention and Expo.  Then, it's off to Indiana for a second painting retreat in Brown County, home of the late painter T.C. Steele.  And finally—Campobello Island, Canada!  Workshops in Downeast Maine very soon. Visit for details.

Window in the Rock 10x12 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Secret Cliff 12x9 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Morning Cliff Shadows 8x6 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

Juniper Shadows 6x8 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

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