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Monday, October 29, 2018

After the Grand Canyon Plein Air Painting Workshop

Painting at Desert View

Trina and I just returned from a fantastic week at Grand Canyon National Park where I taught a plein air painting workshop for the Grand Canyon Conservancy Field Institute.  The week just prior to the workshop, rain and snow blew through the area, so I was a little concerned about how our week would be.  But, true to form, the Southwest's famous sunny skies swept back in.  On our first day, a few clouds lingered among the temples and buttes, but that gave us an opportunity to take great reference photos along with our paintings.  After that, the clouds vanished, and we enjoyed above-normal temperatures for the rest of the week.  Also, as it was mating season for the elk, the canyon echoed with their bugling—and we saw plenty of them browsing by the roadside.  ("Elk jams" are a frequent occurrence in the Park, as tourists stop to snap pictures.)

Each day started off with a short lecture on plein air painting principles, in which I focused on the special challenges presented by the Canyon.  After that, we loaded into our van and drove off to the day's destination.  On location, I first demonstrated—again, taking into consideration the Canyon's unique issues—followed by students painting.  We took lunch as the opportunity presented itself, often enjoying a meal under the shade of a piƱon tree on a lichen-covered boulder. At the end of the day, we headed back to the studio, where we looked at the day's work and I made suggestions for improvement. 

I truly enjoyed sharing some of my favorite spots with the group.  Participants came from California, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Arizona and New Mexico.  For some of them, it was the first time seeing the Canyon, and I think they were pleased with their efforts.  I certainly was.

I'm happy to announce that I'll be teaching this workshop again next year, October 23-26, 2019.  Registration starts soon.  GCC members can sign up as early as November 6; non-members will need to wait until November 12.   $550 GCC members; $575 non-members.  For full details, visit

Here are some of my demonstration paintings (available for sale):

Coconino 9x12 oil

Over the Edge 9x12 oil

Under the Watchtower 9x12 oil
And now some photos from the week:

Painting the Misty Canyon
(Photo by Terri Attridge)

Critique Session

Little Bighorn Sheep

One of my Demonstrations

A Day's Work, Lined up for Critiques

Another of my Demonstrations

Our Happy Group!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sedona Plein Air Painting Workshops

Sedona occupies a beautiful corner of Arizona -- Red Rock Country.  Situated in the middle of towering cliffs of red sandstone, the town is graced with cottonwood trees and the quiet waters of Oak Creek.  As many of you know, I've taught there for years, but now that I've moved away, my workshops in Sedona are more limited.  In fact, I'm only teaching twice this season.  But I'm anxious to share my love of this place with other painters.  So, if you'd like to experience some of the Southwest's best scenery, consider one of my plein air painting workhops in Sedona!

I still have space left in both the November 13-16, 2018, and April 2-5, 2019, weeks.  We have lodging available, too, at the studio!  For full details, please visit  Lodging will go quickly, so I urge you to sign up soon.

In the meantime, here are some photos from last year's workshops to whet your appetite.  See how much sun we have at these workshops?  If you live in the snowy north, perhaps you'll be excited to get away for a painting trip in Sedona.  I hope you'll join us!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wee Scotland Paintings, Workshops at Grand Canyon and .. Sedona!

(See larger versions below)

It's hard to believe, but we've only been home less than two weeks -- yet we've dived into a number of projects, both household and artistic, that have kept us incredibly busy.  One of my artistic projects is to finish a series of 6x8 oil paintings of Scotland.  As you may recall, I pre-sold these so I could extend my trip.  Yes, they are small, but I'm having a lot of fun painting them.  Every day I surround myself with photo references and gouache field sketches, crank up a play list on Pandora, and have at it.  I should be done with the painting part in a few days, and then I'll take a break to let them dry.  Following this will be framing and shipping, hopefully all by Thanksgiving.

The collectors who pre-bought the paintings get first pick, but when they are done, I will have some left over.  Once I know what is left, I will make them available for sale to the general public.  I'll post some photos of what I have now so you can see what these will look like.  (Future photos will be better.) Stay tuned!

On another note, this week I will be heading to Grand Canyon -- yes, again! -- to teach a plein air painting workshop.  I'm really looking forward to this, as the workshop is sponsored by the Grand Canyon Association's Field Institute and the National Park Service.  I'll be taking students to some of my favorite spots.  The weather forecast looks good for our time there, so I'll make sure to have lots of photos to share when I get back.

Also, I still have room in my Sedona (Arizona) plein air painting workshop.  This runs four half-days (9 am to 1 pm) November 13-16.  This is one of my favorite times there, as the cottonwoods and aspens will have started changing, and we should have some good color.  If you'd like to join me, let me know right away, or visit

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Home Again

Winners of the OPAS Annual Member's Exhibition

As you read in my recent newletter, Trina and I just completed our journey from Campobello Island to New Mexico.  Along the way, I judged the Ohio Plein Air Society's annual members' competition in Cincinnati, taught a workshop for the same group, and then taught a second workshop for the Central Ohio Plein Air Society in Columbus.  The OPAS competition really tested the mettle of the painters, as Ohio was in the middle of a period of record-breaking temperatures.  It felt more like August, what with the humidity and heat.  I applaud the painters for their endurance and for turning out so many wonderful paintings.  There were so many good paintings, in fact, that my job as judge proved particularly difficult—yet immensely enjoyable.

Pre-Judging Potluck for OPAS

OPAS paintings ready to be judged

The heat didn't let up, but continued through both workshops.  Fortunately, the locations offered air-conditioned studios to retreat to.   The theme for the OPAS workshop was "Outdoor Study to Studio," so after gathering reference material in the mornings, we headed for the studio (at the Woman's Art Club of Cincinnati in Mariemont) to assemble our material and create finished paintings.  Thank you to Ray Hassard and Robin Roberts for organizing both the competition and the workshop.  The COPAS workshop was an all-level all-outdoors workshop, but the studio (at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware) served as a welcome place for talking about art matters and critiques.  Thank you to Nancy Vance for organizing this one.  In both cases, it was a treat meeting the students and helping them toward a better, more satisfying practice.

By the way, I am looking to schedule a workshop for my annual travel west for the fall of 2019.  If you are a member of a plein air painting group between New Mexico and Maine (our fall travel route) and would like me to hold a workshop in late September or early October, please contact me. 

Reference material set up for OPAS "Outdoor Study to Studio" workshop
with finished painting on right

Gathering more reference material for OPAS workshop

Painting in Mariemont

Sunflowers were a big hit at the COPAS workshop in Columbus...

...and so were the llamas!

My 12x9 tree demonstration in oil for COPAS (sold)

Seeking relief from the heat in Columbus

Monday, October 8, 2018

October News from Michael

To the East
9x12 Oil 
Grand Canyon Celebration of Art

October 2018
Ramah, New Mexico

Good news! Trina and I finally arrived at our winter home in New Mexico. We had an easy trip, what with teaching two workshops in Ohio plus judging the annual Plein Air Competition for the Ohio Plein Air Painters Society and driving over 2600 miles. Now that we're home, I have a chance to catch you up on a few things.

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art

Just before leaving Campobello Island, I flew out to Arizona for the 10th annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art as one of 25 invited artists. The COA event is my favorite – this was my 5th time attending – and most successful. This year, I focused more on painting for myself rather than for collectors and explored color and contrast. I must have done something right, since sales have been good for me so far. The exhibit, which is at the Kolb Studio in Grand Canyon National Park on the South Rim, continues through the end of January. If you visit (and I hope you do!) please know that not everything is hung; there are a good many backup paintings that are in another space, but the staff there will be more than happy to share these with you if you ask. You can see all my paintings at

These will also be available for sale on the Grand Canyon Association's web site soon. Once they are there, I will make a general announcement on my blog, Instagram and Facebook pages.

Paint the Southwest Workshops

Now that I'm back in New Mexico, I'm eager to get started on my "Painting Intensive" workshops, in which I work one-on-one with each participant in a program tailored to the student. This is a rare opportunity for experienced painters to work side-by-side with a pro. We'll be working in the beautiful light of New Mexico's high desert. Lodging and meals are included in the price (a tuition-only version is also available.) For full details on the program, go to

I've also scheduled two all-level plein air painting workshops this year in Sedona, Arizona—my old stomping grounds. Workshops are based in West Sedona and lodging is available at the studio at a price you won't find anywhere else in town. We'll be painting Sedona's famous Red Rock country. Remember, this is for anybody who knows the basics of painting—you don't have to be a plein air painter, since I'll show you how to become one. Of course, the workshop is great for experienced outdoor painters, too! For details, visit Workshops are November 13-16, 2018, and April 2-5, 2019.
By the way, I've just had a spot open up in my October 24-27 2018 Grand Canyon workshop due to a medical cancellation. If you're interested, please let me know right away. Details at

Special Painting Retreat in Lubec, Maine, Next Summer

Because this past August's Special Painting Retreat in Lubec filled so quickly, I want to give you plenty of warning on the next one. We've scheduled it for August 11-16, 2019. This will be based at the historic and beautifully-restored US Coast Guard Station campus out by the West Quoddy Lighthouse. For full details, click here

I have many other workshops scheduled for 2019, and for some, details are being worked out. Locations include Tubac, AZ (for Tubac Center of the Arts); Mount Vernon, WA (for Dakota Art Workshops); Nashville, TN (for the Chestnut Group); and since my October 2018 Grand Canyon workshop filled so quickly, another workshop there in October 2019. Please see the end of this newsletter for details.

Other News

Pastel Journal Articles. I've been asked to write a series of articles on color for the pastel painter. For those of you who followed my recent series on color for the oil painter for The Artist's Magazine, this will be similar—but different! I'm looking forward to exploring this topic for Pastel Journal. Look for them in 2019.

That's all for now. Happy trails!