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Painting Retreat at Wisteria Acres

When: July 11 – July 14, 2013 (Th, Fri, Sat, Sun)

Where: Fort Langley, BC @ Wisteria Acres (


Register before March 18 and pay only $525! This includes 6hrs of instruction per day, 3 nights accommodation (max. 8 spots) and four catered lunches.

For a fraction of the cost to paint with an instructor oversees, you can enjoy painting local landscapes on a beautiful retreat just outside of Fort Langley! The focus will be on plein air painting, though we will have access to a spacious indoor painting space if you prefer. Instruction will include techniques in oil and acrylic, including composition, colour theory, tonal values, texture, and brushwork. Paint all day with a catered lunch in between, and then enjoy good food and relaxed company each evening by the fireplace in a restored country cottage.

Contact Joanne Finlay at or call 604-539-1139. She will provide you with a form to complete and send along with your deposit cheque.

Camp Pobello

Paint Campobello 2013

Paint Campobello – Plein Air Painting Workshops with Michael Chesley Johnson

Instructor: Michael Chesley Johnson
Date: July to September, 2013
Time: N/A
Location: New Brunswick
Cost: $300 (not including lodging)

Michael Chesley Johnson is once again offering his popular plein air painting workshops from July into September at his summer studio on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. These workshops are a real treat for the student because they are small in size – typically no more than four students – and offer some of the best Maritime scenery anywhere.

Campobello Island is home to the 3,000-acre Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, which was recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning, and to the Herring Cove Provincial Park. The parks offer quiet beaches, bold cliffs and meadows edged with apple trees, and elsewhere on Campobello and in neighboring Lubec, Maine, the painter will find fishing villages and lighthouses.

Michael schedules two types of workshops. He gives workshops for any level of student in which the fundamentals of plein air painting are taught, and also workshops for advanced painters where the finer points of the painting process are discussed. Additionally, he is happy to serve as a guide or mentor for the advanced painter seeking a retreat. Workshops cost $300 for four half-days. They run half-days allowing the painter to paint on his own, if desired, or to explore the area’s many recreational opportunities with family or friends. Although Michael will paint in oil or pastel, students are welcome to bring any medium.

For details or to register, please visit or contact Michael at For details on Michael, visit

Michael also offers a similar program in the Red Rock country of Sedona, Arizona, from October into April. For details, visit

Michael Chesley Johnson is a plein air painter working in the American Southwest, coastal Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. He has been an Invited Artist at the Sedona Plein Air Festival for the past 6 years (2006-2011) and in 2011 also participated in the Plein Air Southwest, Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park invitationals. In 2012, he is an Invited Artist for both Plein Air Magazine’s Plein Air Expo & Convention and again for the Grand Canyon event. Additionally, he is a Contributing Editor for The Artist’s Magazine and a frequent contributor to Pastel Journal. He also specializes in teaching small-size plein air painting workshops and has many books and instructional videos available.

Ron Wilson and Rob McPartlin at Dales Gallery

Ron Wilson and Rob McPartlin at Dales Gallery in Victoria from January 7th to February 2, 2013.

Keep watching after the initial interview to see some of the great work on the gallery walls.


Hensche on Painting

This slim book comprises words obtained through personal conversations and taped interviews (mostly in 1988) by John Robichaux who reveals the basic philosophy and methodology of Henry Hensche.

Henry was big on Hawthorne who turns out to have been his teacher and was actually the studio assistant to Hawthorne.

The author Robichaux gives fair warning: He says when you read the words of Henry Hensche “you will not understanding everything.”

The quotes below are good examples of this.

“If you are looking for painting techniques you will not get it from me,”

“If there IS a Hensche Method (and there isn’t) it’s simple – paint the large masses of light and dark to their colour relationships in the light key in which they are seen.”

“You don’t paint what you see, you paint what you’ve been TAUGHT to see…”

Much emphasis has been placed on the light key which is the colours an artist sees in any setting, influenced of course by the prevailing light. “Obviously, you can’t see an object except as it exists in the light in which it is seen.”

Now, that does make sense…but what I really got out of these musings is Hensche’s tip “give your viewers something more than decoration. Give them something that will raise their level of vision. Let them see a new beauty through your eyes.

Now, that’s more like it.

Hensche says “Get the light key and the details will take care of themselves. They are not important and eventually you will see how they make your paintings look foolish. Your paintings will look like craft paintings.”

Here’s the bit that I really liked… “You cannot fully develop your vision by painting in a studio all of the time. You must get outside to learn to paint correctly.”

Hensche wanted Hawthorne’s story to be told and seemed so frustrated with everyone’s lack of understanding of what Hawthorne had accomplished. Sometimes Hawthorne made students use knives to paint so that they avoided lines in nature – only a colour note touching another colour note.

So after reading Hensche and Hawthorne, I went outside one afternoon and studied the ambient light (the key light) at Cattle Point, Vancouver Island. I avoided lines and concentrated on the actual relationships of one colour spot to another. This is the result – “Between the Islands” plein air oil 8 x 10, in two hours.

Between Islands :: 8x10" :: Ron Wilson

Between Islands :: 8×10″ :: Ron Wilson

Did I get it? I can say that I didn’t understand everything but at least I did it.

Hensche on Painting by John W. Robichaux copyright 1997
Dedicated to the memory of Henry Hensche 1901 – 1992
ISBN 0-486-43728-0 published by Dover Publications . 71 pages, $ 6.95 in USA, $10.50 in Canada.

The Ugly Tractor

Hawthorne on Painting

Every good plein air student needs to discover Hawthorne at some stage. “Hawthorne on Painting” is a little paperback which is currently being listed on Amazon and other book selling sites.

Charles Hawthorne is often quoted by painterly illuminati, although some say his teachings are contradictory. I bought the slim paperback online. It is without any illustrations but it IS full of advice.

The book consists of students’ notes of his teachings collected by his wife.

I’m paraphrasing here:

“Avoid drawing – simply put one spot of correct colour and value next to another…”
“Don’t paint with a brush, use a lot of paint with something like a palette knife without a pointed end.”
“Exaggerate colour, create a surprise…”
“Paint something ugly…open peoples’ eyes by showing them the beauty inherent in commonplace things.”

So I took my pochade box to Government House in Victoria and and instead of selecting the gorgeous flowers I chose a tractor in the gardens.

Wow, did I struggle. I missed my brush, I missed my under painting, I missed my drawing and I duly started with a spot somewhere in the middle, laying other spots around it, ignoring edges. Just like he said.

I’m not so certain about the end-result but I learned a lot, and had fun. Just like he said I would.

The 6 x 8 was dripping with wet juicy acrylic so I had to carry it to the Show ‘n Tell with my dustpan – my fellow Al Frescoes laughed when they saw my Hawthorne-method painting.

Next I’m going to discover Henry Hensche. The book is listed at over $1,500.00 on eBay but I’ve ordered the penny-horrible version off the Internet. Talk ta ya later…



Here are the two separate methods I have used as sleeves on a tripod leg to keep the umbrella in place.The sharp end of an umbrella pole can slide into either of these. The upper grip can either be a hole drilled into the paint box or a key-ring wide enough to accommodate the umbrella pole.


LEFT :: From the liquor store, a plastic sample holder

RIGHT :: From an old bicycle tube, some rubber. (Note- the valve is not necessary but it does provide a helpful handle).