Mitchell Albala - Real World Composition for Landscape Painters (Online); Sundays, March 21-April 25, 2021 (no class April 4)

Date: Sundays, March 21-April 25 (no class Aril 4), 2021 (5-week class)
Time: 10:00-12:00PM PDT
Level: All
Medium: Composition is not media specific, so this class is open to oil, acrylic, pastel, gouache, and watercolor painters
Supply List:

Our live online classes are taught via Zoom. Students have the opportunity to interact with the instructor and other participants, watch live demos and receive feedback and instruction. You will have access to a class chat forum on our website where you can share work, comment and ask questions. You will also have access to recordings of the class that will expire 30 days after the final day of the course.

To take this class, you need a microphone and camera enabled computer OR an iPad /smart tablet OR a smart phone (android or IOS) and a strong internet connection.

You will receive an email with the Zoom link and class details 5-7 days before the class starts (don’t forget to check your junk folder). Find out how to access the class group message board here. 

Back by popular demand! Join Mitchell Albala, author of the best-selling landscape painting book in the nation, as he brings his popular composition workshop online at Winslow Art Center. Enjoy a more relaxed online learning environment and be assured of getting ample time for questions and reviews. Please note: class will be limited to eleven participants.

For many landscape painters, composition remains the most elusive area of our practice. The challenge isn’t that we can’t tell the difference between “bad,” “good,” and “better” composition;  we have an innate sensibility that allows us to do that. It’s that we haven’t learned to ask the right questions. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to evaluate your composition in terms of four key practices. These practices are anything but conceptual; they are “real world” applications that will allow you to start asking the right questions and building better compositions immediately. See weekly topics below.


The key to dynamic and interesting compositions is variation. How much do various elements differ from one another? When elements are too much alike — in their “pacing and spacing”, shapes, weight or directional energy — we get stasis. Learn how to apply each of these forms of variation.


The rectangular window that we place around our subject has an enormous effect on the composition. It tells us what will be included, what will be left out, and how all the shapes relate to one another. Also learn how the format of the window — horizontal, vertical, or square — effects the composition.


Movement animates the composition. The eye remains active and engaged as it moves in and around the composition. Learn about movement through diagonals, the difference between direct and implied pathways, circular movement, and how to diagram movement in paintings. 


In landscape painting, negative space presents itself differently than it does in still life or figurative painting. Negative space is often the background sky, large bodies of water, or wide open fields. Learn four methods of “activating” negative space, to ensure that those areas become an integrated part of the composition.


You’ll spend your last week working on your own, applying the practices you learned over the past four weeks. Then we gather for our final review to see how these practices have improved everyone’s work.


Mitchell Albala’s teaching résumé includes 20 years at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, as well as Pacific Northwest Art School, Winslow Art Center, Dakota Art, and Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials. He has led painting adventures in Italy three times. Mitchell has lectured on landscape painting and Impressionism at the Seattle Art Museum and is the author of the best-selling book Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice. He also hosts a popular painting blog which was awarded the #12 spot on’s Top 75 Painting Blogs.

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