FULL: 2022 Workshop: Painting the Studio Landscape with John MacDonald


     A 3-day workshop that will present a step-by-step process for painting landscapes in the studio, using photos, sketches, and studies for reference.

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Friday – Sunday, October 14 -16, 2022
 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
We have updated our pandemic protocols because of the new health recommendations from the CDC and local health officials guidance on Cape Cod, as well as for the health, safety and well-being of our students, staff and teachers.

CLICK HERE to review our updated Pandemic Protocols. 

    This three-day oil painting workshop will focus on painting landscapes using photographs, sketches, and/or plein air studies as reference. We will explore the limitations of the camera and the process of enlarging studies and sketches for larger studio paintings.

**Although John will be using oils as the materials and the landscape as the subject matter, the focus of the workshop will be primarily on the basics of the visual language: composition, values, color, etc.; therefore all mediums are welcome: oils, water-based oils, acrylics, pastels, oil pastels and watercolor.

     Each day will begin promptly at 9:00 am. It will open with a brief lecture (approximately 45 minutes), followed by a demo (about an hour). The participants will paint the remainder of the day with one-on-one instruction and critiquing. The day will end at 4:00pm.

     The class will take participants through the entire process of painting: from building an effective composition to working with value and color and finishing with sensitively chosen details. An emphasis will be placed on proper seeing–looking closely at the existing color and tonal relationships–and on understanding and manipulating what is seen. We will be working with the basic elements of painting, seeing them anew and in ways that can improve the craft of your painting.

  Please refer to the materials list in the Materials tab. Here is a Resource list.

This very popular workshop fills up fast, so sign up early! 

Falmouth Art Center Refund Policy:

Refunds will not be given within one month of the start of a workshop. Workshops are not pro-rated. A $25 processing fee is withheld from all refunds.

The Art Center reserves the right to cancel any workshop due to insufficient enrollment, in which case tuition will be fully refunded.










Here is a Resource list.

Materials List:


You may use canvas boards, panels, stretched canvases, or loose pieces of canvas mounted to a rigid surface. Please bring at least five panels/canvases. Because smaller formats tend to allow for more relaxed and quicker painting, the following sizes are recommended: 6×8 / 8×10 / 9×12 /12×16. Please, do NOT bring canvases larger than 16” x 20.” If you wish to use a long, horizontal format, limit the size to 8” x 16.” Square formats are fine. Either gesso or oil primed surfaces are acceptable.


I use bristle brushes–flats and occasionally filberts–ranging in sizes from #1 to #12. You may use whichever type of brush you’d prefer—brights, flats, or sables—but include a few large brushes–sizes #10 or above.


Because we’ll be painting in the studio, please bring high quality, odorless paint thinner only. Please do not bring turpentine.

     In an attempt to have a non-toxic studio, I no longer use thinner. I’ll describe my method during the workshop.


If you’re accustomed to using a medium, bring it along. I use a medium but do not mix it into my pigments while painting. (Please see the List of Resources for more information). I’ll bring enough to the workshop to share if you care to try it.


If you wish to do some sketching and/or painting outdoors, you will need an easel appropriate for plein air painting: a French easel, pochade box, or similar easel, and all the necessary accouterments for painting outside. If the workshop venue does not provide easels, you will be notified before the workshop begins.


You may bring the palette of your choice to the workshop but please buy the highest quality paints you can afford. Student grade paints are rarely adequate for creating rich or subtle color mixtures.

If you wish to experiment with my limited palette, it consists of:

     Winsor & Newton, Winton Soft Mixing White (a mixture of titanium and zinc)

     Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Winsor & Newton. Any brand will do.)

     Prussian Blue (Winsor & Newton. Any brand will do.)

     Dioxazine Purple (Utrecht brand. Any brand will do.)

     Raw Umber (Vasari brand. No other raw umber is quite like this. Highly recommended.)

     Old Holland Paynes Gray. (Any brand will do. Lamp black is a good substitute.) Recommended.

For more information on the pigments, please refer to the List of Resources.

If you’re flying to this workshop, pack the tubes in a separate container and label the outside of the container with the following:

     “Artist Colors – NON-FLAMMABLE”

Avoid using the words “paint” and “oil” on any label. Do NOT try to carry-on the paint.



     We’ll be working from photographs and/or plein air sketches.  The photos can be hard copies or digital photos. Photos on a laptop or tablet such as an i-Pad work well. Photos taken on smart phones are too small to use. More information regarding the photos will be sent prior to the workshop.


A small sketchbook and several soft (4B to 6B) pencils.


A very nice, inexpensive viewfinder is “View Catcher,” available from most of the sources listed below.


     As we’ll discuss at the workshop, it’s very beneficial to see our work in frames, even paintings that are still in progress. If you’re driving to this workshop and have available frames in the sizes of your panels, please bring one or two with you. I’ll bring some for those who are flying to the workshop.

Instructor Bio

John MacDonald

John attended Washington University in St. Louis where he received a BFA in 1979. Following college, he attended a four month intensive printmaking workshop at the Institute for American Universities in Avignon, France. Returning to the States, he received an MA degree in drawing and painting from Purdue University in 1982.


For nearly thirty years, John worked as both a freelance illustrator and landscape painter. He has won awards from Print Magazine as well as having work appear in the Society of Illustrators annual show. He now paints full time. His paintings are held in private and corporate collections throughout North America.


He is currently represented by the following galleries:

    Warm Springs Gallery; Charlottesville, VA

     The Lily Pad Gallery; Watch Hill, RI and Milwaukee, WI

     Christopher-Clark Fine Art; San Francisco, CA

     The Greylock Gallery; Williamstown, MA

     The Plasteel Gallery; Seattle WA


His workshops have taken place from New Hampshire to California. Recent workshops have been held in the Bascom Center, North Carolina; The Falmouth Art League, Falmouth, Mass.; The Weathersfield Academy, Wethersfield, Conn.; and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.


He has participated as a faculty member of the Plein Air Convention and Expo and has two art instructional videos available through Liliedahl.


Professional memberships have included the Creativity Coaching Association , Society of Illustrators, the Illustrators Partnership of America, the National Association of Plein Air Painters, the Graphic Artists Guild, Oil Painters of America, and the Salmagundi Club of New York.

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