Art Workshop Reviews

T. J. Cunningham, Plein Air  
July 29-31 2019
Landgrove Inn, Landgrove, VT

At the end of July I attended a Plein Air Landscape Workshop with T. J. Cunningham at the Landgrove Inn in Landgrove, Vermont.  It was fabulous!  I had a great time with a lot of really nice people, a wonderful instructor, beautiful scenery, and great food in a very comfortable and accommodating inn.  Vermont is beautiful, green and has loads of barns and dirt roads.  There is truly a painting around every corner.  Landgrove is in southern Vermont so the ride from North Jersey was an easy 4 hours.  The Landgrove Inn is lovely and a little rustic.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all included and are served in the Inn's restaurant, which is open to the public for dinner.  The food was very good and they have a full bar that is available to guests at any time.   
T.J. Cunningham is a young artist who has already established himself as a top contemporary landscape artist.  He is also an excellent teacher.  Each day started in the Landgrove Inn's studio with a short lecture and question and answer period.  Then we would go out on location, which was never very far, and he would do a 1-2 hour demonstration.  His demonstrations were particularly educational.  He explains every step of the way and is very generous with his knowledge and talents.  After lunch we would return to the location and paint.  One of the days we painted first and he did a demo after lunch so that we would have the morning light.  In his morning lectures he emphasized composition, values, and shapes.  He encouraged us to find the extremes first; the biggest shapes, the darkest darks, the lightest lights, the sharpest and softest edges.  He taught us about other artists, contemporary and from the past, and urged us to read Edgar Payne, Ken Salaz, Carlson, and many others.  His demonstrations were awe-inspiring and his one on one instruction was very personalized.  He was particularly good at honing in on where each of us were at in our varied journey in painting, and he took us all a little further along.  Every student there was extremely happy with the workshop.  T.J. is also a really nice guy with a beautiful young family that had come along with him to Vermont.  He was originally from Vermont but lives in Tennessee now.  To see his work and information on upcoming workshops and exhibits, check out his website here.  Cunningham Fine Art .  I highly recommend attending a workshop with T.J.   Most of his workshops are in Tennessee or the Carolinas, but if he is ever back up north I would love to go to another one.  I also really enjoyed the Landgrove Inn.   I am already booked for another workshop there next year with John MacDonald, who I have reviewed in past posts.

Howard Rose, Landscape Painting 

August 1-5, 2018.
Hudson River Valley Art Workshops

Howard Rose is an extraordinary landscape and still life artist.  I particularly like his seascapes and beach and dune paintings.  He lives and works in Long Island, NY, and about six of his students from his regular classes came to the workshop.  One in particular, Joan Stevens, is quite talented and assisted him when necessary.  It was a pretty large class, so it was nice having an assistant making the rounds as well. 

Howard went above and beyond the regular class time of 9-4.  He would begin critiques of everyone's work at 4:30.  We barely got done in time for dinner!  He did a presentation after dinner every night.  The first night he highlighted all the various things we need to ask ourselves when critiquing or troubleshooting our work.  The second night's presentation was about all of his favorite contemporary artists. The third night he taught us about all the various phone apps he uses to manipulate his photos. On the last night, Joan treated us to the film "Loving Vincent"!

The first day of the workshop Howard did a short plein air demonstration on how to start a painting.  He identifies the major shapes and is insistent on making sure the drawing is correct before moving on.  Next he fills in the big shapes with an average color in the right value for each shape.  Half the class painted plein air in the morning, but all of us ended up in the studio by the afternoon, taking shelter from the oppressive heat and humidity.  And then the thunderstorms came.  I didn't finish this one yet. Still a work in progress
"The Shed",  Oil on Panel, 6"x 8", Work in Progress
The next morning we went on a field trip to Coxsackie, NY., a little picturesque town on the Hudson River.  There we took iPhone and iPad photos while Howard pointed out subjects and compositions that most people might overlook.  That afternoon we went back and painted from our photos.  As picturesque as the town was I really liked the photo I snapped of the truck bearing down on me.  I didn't finish this one either.
"Dump Truck", Oil on Panel, 6"x 8", work in Progress 
The last morning Howard did a demo painting of dunes.  He had a large photo album filled with small photos of seascapes and dunes.  I was inspired to do one myself.  At least this one is finished!
This was one of the best workshops I ever had!  Howard was able to pinpoint exactly what needed to be done at each stage of my painting.  He is also a lot of fun and a really nice guy.  I would post a link to his website but it is currently unavailable.  Joan Stevens can be found  here  Lately she has been working on black canvas with wonderful results.

I have now been to 9 art workshops in Greenville.  Obviously I enjoy them.  The owners daughter and son-in-law have come on board and made a few nice improvements so far.  The studio got a nice new look this year and they added an espresso cafe.  But it is spending 3-7 days just eating, living, and breathing art with other artists that really makes these workshops so much fun!

"Bold, Brilliant, and Fearless Painting" 

with Patti Mollica.  July 28-31, 2018.
Hudson River Valley Art Workshops

 At the easel - where life is good!   
This was a three-day workshop at the Greenville Arms in Greenville, NY.  Patti Mollica is primarily an acrylic painter and has published quite a few books and you tube videos on both color theory and her technique of painting fast, loose, and bold.  You can check her out at 

Patti has a unique way of teaching how to loosen up in both style and color.  She had provided us with about ten photographs of various subjects.  There were figures, cityscapes, buildings, florals, landscapes,etc.  We began by breaking down these complicated compositions into large defined value shapes using only white, black, and a middle grey. Then she explained how to match those values with color, encouraging us to use a variety of colors within each value range.  The idea was to apply color directly onto the value studies.  Patti works in acrylics, and her method works better in that medium.  I worked in oils, so my value studies were not dry enough to apply color on top.  I used my studies as references instead of under paintings.

one of my 3 tone value studies
one of my 3 tone value studies
The next day she showed us how to use large brushes to apply brushstrokes in a vast array of shapes and sizes.  We practiced her loose painting style with a series of short timed paintings and limited brushstroke paintings. On the last day we combined all of her techniques, working off of either her photographs or our own.
Patti is an attentive teacher and very good at getting around to everyone.  Her technique is easy to understand, very well presented, and a lot of fun!  I really enjoyed her workshop as did my daughter, who is a graphic designer but a complete novice at painting.  I highly recommend attending any of her classes or workshops!
one of my 30 minute paintings

one of my daughter's color studies

The Hudson River Valley Art Workshops are in The Greenville Arms in Greenville, NY, about 2 1/2 hours from NYC.  It can be an all inclusive or you may attend as a day student.  But I think it is most enjoyable when you stay at the Inn. You stay and eat and paint and learn all week with a very fine group of people. This was my 8th workshop in as many years. The food is good, the service is excellent, and the accommodations are comfortable. The studio is open 24/7 and there is always hot coffee and tea available. My personal favorite is the afternoon cookie break. Check it out at

John MacDonald, Landscape in Oils 

October 8-14, 2017.

Hudson River Valley Art Workshops  

What a wonderful week of painting with John MacDonald in Greenville, NY.  This was a landscape workshop in oils, concentrating on interpreting photo references, rather than copying.

Although John has a distinctive style of painting, and even a very limited palette, he doesn't teach his students to paint like him. He teaches the foundations, (composition, values, color, edges, and details), that are integral to any style. That is the cornerstone of his instruction. He starts off teaching about composition and then moves on to value. He emphasizes doing underpaintings to establish a good value structure. He likes to solve most problems in the underpainting. He then moves on to color, temperature, edges, and lastly details. It is a lot of information and John presents it particularly well. He is very well prepared and does a good job balancing painting time with demonstrations and lectures. He sends out a copious amount of information a few weeks before the workshop. It might seem daunting, but I recommend reading it all...twice.

There were 18 students, which was too many. But John works very hard and never stops teaching, often well after the scheduled time and even sometimes during dinner. At the request of the class he even spent time talking about gallery representation, pricing, and business practices. I learned so much this week I am still processing it. I think my biggest take away was learning how to find what it is that's not working in my painting and how to go about fixing it.

The workshop is geared more to using the photograph as a reference than in plein air painting, but anyone who wanted to paint plein air was encouraged to do so. There was a park about a five minute drive from the studio and John went back and forth all afternoon.

John is taking a sabbatical next year and won't be doing any workshops in 2018. I highly recommend taking one in 2019. He is an exceptional teacher and has a lot of knowledge to impart. He is also a genuinely nice guy who obviously loves what he is doing! Check out his website, and sign up for his newsletters. They are a workshop in and of themselves.

The Hudson River Valley Art Workshops can be all inclusive or you may attend as a day student. You stay and eat and paint and learn all week with a very fine group of people. I have been to 7 workshops there in the past 7 years and I will be going back next year. The food is good, the service is excellent, and the accommodations are comfortable. The studio is open 24/7 and there is always hot coffee and tea available. My personal favorite is the afternoon cookie break. Check it out at

Peter Fiore Landscape Workshop
March 24-26, 2017  

Milford, PA

Peter Fiore's March Landscape Workshop in Milford, PA. was a great experience and I highly recommend attending any of his workshops. Peter is an incredible landscape artist. You can check out his work and information about upcoming workshops at

This was a three day workshop from Friday through Sunday. The first morning Peter did a presentation comparing some of his finished paintings to the reference photos, explaining the decisions he made and why. He taught us how to use references to inform our work rather than be slaves to the photograph. After lunch we all painted. With only seven students we got a lot of attention from Peter. He is a very generous teacher, never hesitating to reveal any of his tips and tricks.

The next day started with a color presentation. Although he covered some basics of color theory most of his lesson was about his use of color, his palette, and tips on brushwork and palette knife application. He uses a copious amount of paint and achieves incredibly rich colors that simply glow.

The rest of the workshop was devoted to painting. It was a great group of very diverse artists that I learned quite a bit from as well. I worked on three studies while others worked on new paintings, and some brought works in progress. Everyone felt the workshop was successful and obviously learned a lot.

Peter's wife Barbara, who is a ceramic artist, (, helps out at the workshops and they are a truly a lovely couple. I will definitely be going back for another workshop in the future.

I stayed at the Harrington House which is a Bed & Breakfast across the street.. Accommodations and breakfast were top-notch.