San Juan Islands, Orcas based, WA

Registration Form

bonniebarnTake your sketching outside. The summer is slipping away and it is time to see what is there, get it down in your sketchbook, make color notes.
IMG_4882This class will teach you how to use your sketching to gather resources and impressions that will last you all winter long.  It will teach you a fast way of creating lasting impressions — whether traveling, or relaxing in your own back yard. You will learn new drawing techniques and solidify those you already have as well as learn how to use your watercolors in a quick and informative way.

firscrowvalleyWe will travel light, a beach chair and a bag or backpack and you are set (see below)

We draw at various locations, two or three a day.  We gather information, improve our drawing skills, and learn how to use watercolor to render color notes and to create pleasing small paintings. In particular, we will try the watercolor sketch techniques practiced by Cezanne and Sargent.

Crow Valley Apple House

drawingcascade(1)There is much to be gained by drawing and painting out of doors.  You see what is really happening in color and in light.  And you are able to observe and “get into shapes.”  This is quite a different process than photographing and drawing later from your photographs.



While the focus is on improving  drawing, painting, and observational skills, we will also visit some of the loveliest spots in the San Juans, mainly on Orcas.   Boats on the water, coves and driftwood, deep old-growth forests, flower gardens and Victorian buildings, farm fields and buildings, sunlight and shade are all there to be experienced as you draw and paint. We may pop over to Shaw, an easy hop, ferry schedules willing….

There will be plenty of demonstrations and help, and plenty of time to do your own drawings and light paintings.

OPCabinIn preparing for the class, you want to keep your supplies minimal so that you can be mobile. You will want two sketchbooks — one for drawing only, although this could also include journaling impressions and one for watercolor.

There are excellent watercolor sketchbooks of various proportions. You may wish to buy one of these.  Or you can make your own by taking a loose-leaf three-ring binder, cutting your watercolor paper to size and punching it with a 3-hole punch. Be sure and get a binder with a plastic cover.  You need a bulldog clip — and you take out your paper, clip it to the cover, and have an instant drawing/painting board.

madronapt(1)From years of teaching plein aire, I have found that people bog down in their equipment — lugging too much  and attempting paintings that are too complex for the changing light conditions. Let’s keep it simple and get out there to record what is happening!

The class is limited to 12.
The schedule is Monday and Tuesday on; Wednesday you have a free day; Thursday and Friday on again. This schedule allows you time to explore the islands, or have a breather. It is by popular request.

Class time: 9:30 – 3:30.
Monday, plan on having a packed lunch. You will be notified of the meeting location closer to class time.


Lodging is in great demand this time of year.  Check first in the LINKS on the top menu for tried and recommended locations.
Camping is available in Moran State Park, but again early registration is advised. Recommend sites on the upper lake, Mountain Lake, or in the South area. In addition Doe Bay Resort has everything from camping to cabins.
If you have several friends who want to come together or if you come with your family, consult house rentals at Cheri Lindholm Vacation Rentals or other on-line rental pools for a private cabin or house.

If coming by ferry, you may send me a check for $30.00 (current price)  in addition to the class registration and I will send you a discounted e-ticket (counts as round trip) for the ferry.  Otherwise car and driver are more than $50.  Be sure and make a reservation, for coming and going.


All you need!

burtonbarn Choose a backpack or one bag in which you can carry it all + your beach chair in the other hand.

a small palette of paints  — basically a red yellow and blue + orange, green and violet. Here is a doc. of my indoor equipment list to compare.

a pointed brush #10 or #8
a flat brush — 1 inch or 3/4 inch (Taklon)
Pens –– a variety;

  • a good gel roller ball pen – main drawing pen, be sure you like it
  • a micron if you like them
  • I like some Faber Castell 4 Pitt artists brush pens – cold gray
  • if you don’t have the Pitt brush pens, then have some kind of sharpie or brush pen that makes good darks
  • Pencils in #2, #4, and #6.
  • Small pencil sharpener.

    Drawing at the Shaw Landing

  • firm white eraser
  • 2 bull dog clips

small water bottle
small  (yogurt) cups for water

Sketch book and watercolor book — small enough to go in the backpack but at least 8 1/2 x 11– brands:

  • Robert Bateman is a good surfaced drawing sketchbook
  • I have found the Bee Paper Company Professional series Super Deluxe will take watercolor as well as drawing.
  • Or you can make your own watercolor notebook by taking a vinyl covered 3-ring notebook. Cut your Arches 140 lb cold press and/or hot press watercolor paper to size and punch each sheet with a 3-hole punch.  You clip the sheet to the cover while you are working. You get 6 pages from 1 sheet of Arches watercolor paper. Please please please buy Arches.

A gardening pad or beach chair (gets you low enough that you can use the ground as your table)
your camera
jacket, hat, sunglasses, sun block

Registration Form