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Oil Painting Workshop
November 1st & 2nd from 9:00am to 4:00pm

Facilitated by John MacDonald

Fee:  $375

To Register:

  1. Email to express interest

  2. Send a check payable to MAC Center (44 Gypsy Lane, Bennington, Vermont  05201)


Note: after September 30, deposit is non-refundable

Workshop Description:

In this two-day workshop, you will be introduced to a step-by-step painting process that will take you from choosing reference photos, composing the scene in tonal sketches, creating a simple block-in, and then finishing the painting with carefully chosen details. We’ll talk about materials and techniques but the focus will be on the basic of painting: composition, value relationships, color contrasts, edge variety, and 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.


The day will open with a brief presentation of concepts (approximately 45 minutes), followed by a demo (about an hour). The participants will then paint the remainder of the day with one-on-feedback. The workshop will end with a review of concepts and a brief critique.



In this workshop, you’ll be working at your own pace. Please have at least two canvases or panels that are a minimum 9”x12” but no larger than 16”x20.” You may use canvas boards, panels, stretched canvases, or lose pieces of canvas mounted to a rigid surface. Either gesso or oil primed surfaces is acceptable.



You may use whatever you wish. Although I’ll be showing you my specific painting process, no specific brushes, solvents, or media are required for this workshop. Because we’ll be working indoors, if you use solvents, please bring the highest possible grade of odorless solvents


You may use the palette–the pigments and colors–of your choice. Using my palette is optional and is not a part of this workshop. If you choose to use my palette, be aware that learning to use a new palette can be challenging and will add another level of difficulty to the workshop. If you wish to experiment with my limited palette, I will include the brands and names of pigments on the Resource List, which will be emailed prior to the workshop in early October.



As mentioned in the workshop description, you will be using photographic reference.



One month begin the workshop begins, I’ll email to you a pdf regarding photo reference, a resource list, and suggestions for making the most of the workshop. After receiving the material in early October, please feel free to contact me with questions.



MacDonald attended Washington University in St. Louis where he received a BFA in 1979. Following a four-month intensive printmaking workshop at the Institute for American Universities in Avignon, France, he received an MA degree in drawing and painting from Purdue University in 1982. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group shows in Canada and the United States. His paintings can be found in collections throughout North America.


Professional memberships have included the Society of Illustrators, the Illustrators Partnership of America, the National Association of Plein Air Painters, Oil Painters of America, the Graphic Artists Guild, and the American Tonalist Society. MacDonald is represented by the Greylock Gallery (Williamstown, Mass.), The Ceres Gallery (Portsmouth, N.H.), The Lily Pad Gallery (Watch Hill, R.I. and Milwaukee, Wisc.), the Warm Springs Gallery (Warm Spring, Virginia), the Christopher-Clark Gallery (San Francisco) and the Plasteel Gallery (Seattle). Website:

Places to stay in Bennington:

Knotty Pine Motel, Hampton Inn, Best Western, Paradise Inn, and Harwood Hill Motel

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