En Plein Air at Weekend With the Masters

Well, after an exhilarating and exhausting week in Colorado Springs (and a week off to rest and recuperate!) I am back en the Plein Air saddle and ready to return to my landscape-painting musings. I thought it would be appropriate to get back into En Plein Air with a recap of what happened during the landscape portion of Weekend With the Masters (WWM). Truth be told, I was only able to make it outside for about 15 minutes on one of the days, but I have some great pictures to share, and I've heard from many participants who had wonderful things to say about the workshops and demos offered by Scott Christensen, George Gallo, Kevin Macpherson, Joe McGurl, Frank Serrano, and Skip Whitcomb.

All of the half- and full-day landscape workshops, as well as the Friday morning sunrise demo, were held on the beautiful grounds of Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center, about a 10-minute drive from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, where the indoor portion of Weekend With the Masters took place. The two outdoor demonstrations in the program took place on the grounds of the five-star Broadmoor Hotel. Glen Eyrie offered landscape painters an abundance of natural subject matter to choose from, including the castle itself, a carriage house, two rose gardens, a sprawling lawn with views of nearby trees and rolling hills, the red rock and canyon region, et cetera. The staff of the castle graciously welcomed WWM participants and instructors onto their grounds and attended to all our needs. The folks at the famous Broadmoor Hotel were equally inviting and welcoming and coordinated a paint-out for the WWM instructors through the Hayden Hays Gallery the day before the event began. They also allowed us onto their lovely Lakeside Terrace and West Lawn areas for Frank Serrano's and Skip Whitcomb's demos on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

If you were a WWM plein air participant, please chime in here and let us know how the workshops went. Also, special thanks to Joe Bonomo, Steve Doherty, and David Pyle for sharing their wonderful photographs!


Above and below:
Kevin Macpherson, Jacob Collins, Stephen Quiller, and Daniel Gerhartz all took advantage of the Hayden Hays Gallery's
arrangement for the instructors to paint on the grounds of the Broadmoor Hotel on September 9.


Scott Christensen laid out his
Vasari oil colors as he taught
about preparing and painting at
the highest level during his
full-day workshop.
Joseph McGurl began his workshop at Glen Eyrie
Castle & Conference Center with a lecture and demo.


George Gallo (left) and Frank Serrano (right) led a sunrise plein air demo at Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center on Friday, September 11.
Skip Whitcomb explained some of the principles
of his teaching before he began his full-day workshop
at Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center.

Related Posts:


Plein Air Painting Blog
Allison Malafronte

About Allison Malafronte

Allison Malafronte is the senior editor of American Artist magazines, and the project editor of  Plein Air Painting and Workshop With the Masters magazines. She is also the creative manager of the Weekend With the Masters Workshop & Conference (www.aamastersweekend.com) which was launched in 2009 and is now in its third year. She is author of the Art for Thought column in American Artist magazine (also on the Artist Daily site under The Artist's Life blog) and the 2008-2010 Plein Air blogs on Artist Daily. 

17 thoughts on “En Plein Air at Weekend With the Masters

  1. Allison,

    It amazes me that, of all the female painters in this country, only three of the chosen instructors were women, and two of whom are married to two of the male participants. This is the third show or event I have seen recently calling itself a “masters” show, with such a minute percentage of female artists. I would be interested in your opinion, as a woman in this business. Please comment.

    Mary Erickson

  2. I’ve wondered the same thing that Mary Erickson mentioned. The artists taking part in the weekend event are masters for sure, and I love to see their works, but there are many female master artists as well and you seldom see a fair share of them included in this type of event. Why not? It’s almost as if the ones who do get included are “token” artists. Not fair, and I think it should be addressed. I too would like to have your comments. Thank you.

    Ann Stapp

  3. Interesting comment…
    I bet there were more females then males attending this conference…. Steve, can you post the numbers?
    And as far as the masters thing goes, I think the term has been diluted and destroyed in this anything goes art downfall were in. Just because you have a masters degree from a school doesn’t make you a master painter. Just because you sell paintings doesn’t make you a master painter. I think any true master wouldn’t be at such a show, they’d be in the studio working. And most of the true great masters though out history wouldn’t have been able to even afford such an event. Ladies, no matter how much you write down in your little notebooks during your art class, it will not make you a better artist, it won’t, only time and practice and thats only if you are born with creativity and imagination which can not be taught!
    And your comment “as a woman in the business”… art is not a business, if you are good enough, your art will sell itself and needs no marketing. If you got into painting to make money, get out! you are killing art! Capitialism and art have no place together.
    But I feel woman will always only have a minute percentage in the painting world, why, because men can’t make babies and so we have more time to devote to art, and it does take lots of time, years!. And i’m not kidding, isn’t this true?
    But i must say, i feel more men are born with the ability then women, why? I don’t know…
    But last and back to the male/female instructor part, remember the saying, and this is key, “those who can’t, teach!” and you can’t learn anything in a weekend! No offense Steve.
    Good luck Mary, you female artist you!

  4. Allison,
    This was indeed a GREAT weekend. The instructors were all excellent, male or female. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to be in more of the workshops.
    The grounds, especially Glen Eyrie, were stunning and it was hard for our plein air groups to choose a paint subject. Every view was so awesome.

    I did learn alot in a weekend, contrary to some opinions. And just meeting and making new friends was worth the whole experience. I wouldn’t have missed it, and look forward to next year. Thanks to American Artist for putting this together.

  5. An interesting amount of venom from some-yet sad.

    I had a great time and am glad it happened. Will do all we (Brenda and I) can do to make the next one.


  6. Regarding the male vs. female question, I can only say that when we determined the roster for this event, gender was not the first criteria—it was skill level, experience, and a reputation for being a generous and well-received instructor.

    That said, there are certainly several female artists working today who fit that description and would make fine instructors at this event, including Rose Frantzen, Nancy Guzik, Carolyn Anderson, and many others.

    Because this was the first year for the event and we were breaking ground in many respects, we had to test the concept and see how it was received. Now that we know there is a tremendous interest in and response to WWM, next year we can expand the program to include more instructors and other elements that we weren’t able to include this year.

    Thanks MariaB and Phillip for your comments, I’m glad WWM was a positive experience for you!

  7. To thestudiedpainter,
    I agree with you that the term master has been diluted over the past few years and that what one calls master another would not. In the case with this event, the instructors chosen would definitely be called masters in my opinion. Others may disagree.
    I believe that what makes a master is not only the body of work but the legacy they leave behind. I think an artist who is willing to share with others a greater person than one who isn’t willing to. The fact that these artists are willing to share their knowledge with others only increases their status in my mind. I think it makes them even better artists. You don’t know what you don’t know until you have to teach it. Actually verbalizing the way you think and do things really helps you to understand how and why you do the things you do. Sometimes you discover that you have actually been doing something less correct.
    Those who can do, the better ones teach others to do also. Only my opinion.

  8. Lighten up on counting how many men, women, teens, middle age, infirm, gay, straight or care-less, hairless or hairy, black, red, or white, cat lovers or dog lovers, tall or “vertically impared”, smokers or non-smokers, “iny’s” or “outies”, heavyweights or phys-ed majors, tree huggers or meat eaters are on board. Save the PC for the next “Global Warming” rally and lets all paint no matter who shows up to teach – as long as they are good and you learn something.

  9. OK, time for me to chime in here … to Allison’s 10/9 post: what I think I heard you saying is that there was only so much you guys could present in the program before you really knew what kind of a turn out you would have … we eager attendees encourage you to please continue selecting the “best & the brightest”, so to speak …. so thank you for your efforts Allison (& the rest of the staff @ American Artist) – you guys are AWESOME for taking the time & effort to organize this event!

    to Robert Raser’s 10/9 post: I definitely agree – I like to focus on what I think was the main purpose of the WWM event: tastefully showcasing the talents of top-notch artists/instructors to a most appreciative audience, regardless of gender.

  10. In response to thestudiedpainter’s post:

    The statement ” I think the term has been diluted and destroyed in this anything goes art downfall were in.” is arguable. He goes on to claim; “Just because you have a masters degree from a school doesn’t make you a master painter.” However, the dictionary definition of “master”, as applicable to art instruction, is still “a skilled practitioner or a person who holds a second or further degree from an academic institution.” So, it seems thestudiedpainter is the one who wishes to alter, dilute or destroy the existing definition.
    thestudiedpainter goes on to claim that; “no matter how much you write down in your little notebooks during your art class, it will not make you a better artist, it won’t, only time and practice and thats only if you are born with creativity and imagination which can not be taught!”
    This flies in the face of reason. Obviously, practice is important, but best practices are also important and teachable. It is counterproductive to practice bad techniques. Learning how to mix colors from someone who already knows sure beats learning by trial and error. The notion that one is either born creative or not has yet to be proven. However, it seems broadly accepted that one can have whatever creativity crushed by social circumstances. So it should be an acceptable proposition that the opposite could be true; that creativity can be enhanced and expanded.
    Thestudiedpainter’s claim that “art is not a business” and that “Capitialism and art have no place together.” seems a bit idealistic. If one takes even a brief survey of the history of art one finds the “masters” working for money. In the past they were creating art for the rich and powerful, either the king, or the church. Peasants could only avail themselves of ‘folk art’ they made themselves. Today capitalism has replaced royalty and theocracy as the primary market for art. His idea that “your art will sell itself and needs no marketing”, seems simplistic and naive to me. People who can afford to buy your art for a realistic price will not show up at your door if they have never even seen your work, and they won’t unless you have some sort of marketing plan. But, I suppose any dilettante can sell a few paintings off his wall to visiting friends and hope that the word spreads that he is an undiscovered “master.”

  11. Boy, The Studiedpainter sure is grouchy! He should probably get his facts straight before he jumps to conclusions. I know some of these masters, if not most don’t have a “masters degree.” That’s not what designates them as masters. It is a title earned by a combination of factors including their ability to pass their knowledge on to others. Determining who is a master is up to interpretation and it obviously doesn’t matter how many paintings you sell. I don’t think Jackson Pollack is a master, but others might.
    As far as the business thing is concerned, unless you have a trust fund or a lot of rich friends, you have to take care of business if you are a self employed artist. You also have to make money if you want to be an artist. Art created in capitalist societies trumps art created in fascist or communist societies in my opinion.
    Throughout history, the best artists also taught. They had apprentices, taught at ateliers, or in a more formal setting. The best artists also studied in one or more of those settings. I don’t know of any master from the past who was entirely self taught.
    You may be right in saying that childrearing takes a lot of talented women artists out of the pool. It does take years of practice and study to become an artist and they just can’t make up the lost time. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is.
    Lastly, you say that “you can’t learn anything in a weekend” Well, what can I say? I guess it takes some people a bit longer to learn anything.

  12. the studied painter wrote “But I must say, i feel more men are born with the ability then women, why? I don’t know…” (A clear give-away that this comment was made by a man over 50 maybe 60…)

    This is totally unsubstantiated. There are more women in art school and architectural programs than men. Personal opinion does not make fact, especially outdated opinions that think that they are expert. More women outnumber men in various aspects of design and art. You will find more women single with no children designing and doing art today more than ever. Let’s not confuse power, presence and authority with talent. Ladies and young ladies reading this, don’t let outdated beliefs get in your way.

    I’m glad to see that the 2010 roster has more women instructors this year. Keep painting everybody.

  13. I crossed the Atlantic three times to spend three wonderful workshops with Joe McGurl, two shared with other artists in Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island, and one near his home in Cape Cod. It was a privilege to be a participant and one of my most pleasurable and lasting memories.

    Fergus Ryan,
    Dublin Ireland