Kathleen Elsey Workshops


Read what others say about my painting workshops.

Santa Barbara Beach Painting Workshop
I am no longer offering workshops. Dedicating my time to painting and travel.
Follow my work on Face book or instagram@KathleenElseyPaintings


Plein Air Paint
Join California colorist, Kathleen Elsey, and paint the missions, mountains, meadows and beaches of this coastal town. You will learn to see with a greater awareness. There is nothing better than putting your brain away and letting your eyes tell you how to paint. Learn to paint with Kathleen’s signature vivified palette to make bright and bold paintings. You will learn to search for shapes, colors and values while studying composition and simplification. Kathleen will demonstrate how she begins a painting and talk you through her process of covering the canvas with paint. Come prepared to paint the town while enjoying the camaraderie of other artists as we make paintings.

Butterfly Beach Painting Workshop

Paint with a looser hand, a vivified palette and brusque brushwork. “I want to capture the emotion of my subject. I see. I feel. I discover rhythms, shapes, lines. I want the balance between my eye, my mind, my heart."

Plein Air Painting  Santa Barbara, California
This is a mentoring workshop with lots of individual instruction. I will demo how I tackle a tough composition and make a beginning in a fearless fauve manner. You will learn how to make a lively beach painting full of energy and emotion. And you will learn to put those finishing touches on a mission or mountain meadow painting and stop before over working it. We will work on your individual challenges. Each day we will meet and paint for four hours and you are welcome to remain at each location and continue painting on your own. We will meet and greet the first morning at my home studio over coffee and pastries. This is your chance to see a whole pile of my paintings from beginnings to finished pieces. From there we will head out to our first location and paint through the morning finishing at 1:00. I will begin with a demonstration and then you will start your paintings. I will help each of you as you develop your painting. Each day we will meet at 9 in a new location and paint til 1. On the afternoon of our first day, we will have a no host happy hour and dinner at my favorite local Mexican restaurant.
Have fun and go home with an armful of paintings and a heart full of memories

Tuition is $750 for three days. You provide transportation, your painting materials, accommodations and meals.

Paint with a looser hand, a vivified palette and brusque brushwork. “I want to capture the emotion of my subject. I see. I feel. I discover rhythms, shapes, lines. I want the balance between my eye, my mind and my heart."



Kathleen Elsey, Santa Barbara artist, demonstrates how she makes a plein air painting in a field of colorful flowers near Santa Barbara, California.

Creativity not only involves coming up with something new, but also with shutting down the brain’s habitual response and letting go of conventional solutions. Learn to:
think like an artist
see shapes, shadows and colors
make interesting brushwork
be bright and bold
develop free expression
make interesting compositions
paint from your heart
paint like a fauve (wild beast)!
know when to stop

Kathleen Elsey Painting workshop santa Barbara

"Kathleen, I love your work, your colours and your approach to the landscape. I seldom use that adjective, when commenting on paintings but I just love what you painted in New Mexico." Brian, Fauvist painter from Canada

Santa Barbara Painting Workshop
“Color is magical and fascinates me.
I paint to share a vision, a feeling, and to make something meaningful."

Paint the Color of Taos, New Mexico! Plein Air Painting Taos   
Tuition $800  - max eight students

Kathleen Elsey Painting Workshop Materials

There are art stores in all workshop locations so no worries if you forget anything on your supply list. For the Santa Barbara painting workshop, we have Art Essentials (805) 965-5456). Taos painting workshop has Artisan (505 751-0802). The Sonoma painting workshop has Fine Line Art Supplies (707 935-3199).

Below are the acrylic painting supplies I suggest:

• Portable easel: I really like the ease of use of the Soltec easel, and like the Julian full box, both available at Dick Blick (1-800 828-4548). If you are joining me for studio painting, you are welcome to paint on the tables rather than an easel.

• For each day bring one small panel, canvas or boards (12 x 12 or 11 x 14 or smaller) for a quick study and two larger panels, canvases or canvas boards for a longer study (12 x 16, 16 x 20, 18 x 24 or bigger). I paint on Masterpiece and Winsor Newton stretched canvas or linen. While traveling, you might consider canvas boards since they pack together so efficiently.

• Palette
My favorite brushes for acrylic painting are "Silver Bristlon" from Jerry's artarama. I purchased four brights- #12, 8, 6 and 4. I also like Isabey Isacryl 6562 size number 4, 6 and 10.

• Brushes for acrylic: 3 or 4 ”brights” (short stiff bristles) size about 1" across, 3/4", 1/2", 1/4" depending on canvas sizes. I would use the 3 larger sizes above if I were painting an 18 x 24 canvas. If you choose bigger canvases, get the big brushes. If you chose 16 x 20 canvases or smaller, you could use the smaller 3 brushes above. Buy good brushes or you’ll regret it. My favorite for acrylic is from Jerry's Artarama and is called "Silver Bristlon." I bought four brights- #12, 8, 6 and 4. I also like for acrylic Isabey Isacryl 6562 synthetic bristles (#4, 6, 10). See photo to right. These brushes have performed well for me and have lasted a long time. My hometown art store doesn't carry them anymore, so they are getting harder to find. I clean my brushes fanatically so they last a long time. The “brights” give my paintings somewhat of a palette knife effect. Brights make short, crisp strokes and place color and paint well. I prefer to buy my brushes from my local art store rather than online so that I can feel the brush, check the ”spring” in the bristles, see the color of the bristles and choose the width of brushes that I need. In fact I buy almost all of my supplies from Art Essentials, my local art store. Great staff. Great supply!

• Sketch book, pencil, cotton rag (like an old t-shirt), water bucket or container

• Paints: I love Winsor Newton’s new Artists’ Acrylics in 2 oz. tubes. They are buttery, dry a bit slower than other acrylics and they have so much pigment in them that they dry the same color as they look when wet! What you see while painting is what you get when dry! I also like Golden for it’s viscosity, quality and brilliant colors. Liquitex is also very fine quality and has some beautiful colors not available in other brands. If you can afford it, pass on the student grade brands of paint and buy what the professionals use.

Acrylic Paints -- Beginners and minimalists need seven colors. I use Winsor Newton acrylics with a couple of Golden acrylics.

• Titanium white
• Lemon Yellow
• Cad Yellow Medium or Azo Yellow Medium
• Cad Red Deep or Alizarin Crimson Hue
• Cadmium Red Medium or Permanent Rose
• Ultramarine Blue
• Cobalt or Cerulean Blue Deep
• If you can’t resist a few more colors, add Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Teal. If the sky is the limit, go for Dioxazine Purple, Green Gold, Jenkins Green, and Red Oxide.

You will learn to:
• Get started painting
• Have a reason for painting
• Think creatively
• See shapes, colors and values
• Be expressive
• Loosen up
• Paint thick and bold
• Make a bright painting
• Make interesting brushwork
• Create an exciting composition
• Simplify complicated compositions
• Solve problems in your paintings
• Stop trying to be perfect
• Use your eyes and not your brain
• Critique your work

“I've taken four of your painting workshops and plan to do more. I LOVE your workshops and  the way you paint. You inspire me!” Jennifer from Santa Barbara after attending Kathleen's painting workshop in Santa Barbara

Kathleen Elsey Paintings Workshop New Mexico

Rebecca from Canada says about Kathleen Elsey Painting Workshops: "I searched California painting workshops and found plein air and studio painting workshops in California with Kathleen Elsey. Her website was full of color and painting ideas so I joined. That first day that I walked into the Santa Barbara painting studio and the sunlit room was bursting with fresh flowers, cakes and beautiful set ups to paint. I am an advanced painter and learned so much. Trying to get Kathleen Elsey to do some mentoring. 

”You and colorist Charles Sovek are an inspiration to anyone who enjoys art and color. Thank you for your website and your inspiring paintings.”    Ted from Georgia

“I am understanding more about the process now after watching you paint aloud. Your spirit and attitude toward painting is contagious. I caught some of it. Thank you so much for your constructive comments. You made me feel like an artist and made me want to keep my sketchbook and camera at hand.”
Shawn Carlsbad, California, after attending the Kathleen Elsey Santa Barbara painting workshop

“Kathleen.....Your workshop was a wonderful experience, especially the demonstrations and your generous sharing of so much information about painting AND marketing.. All of this was really appreciated by ME, a novice painter
Susan from San Clemente, California

“I am a beginning (very beginning) painter who stumbled upon your website today. There is not one painting in your art that fails to fascinate or call for further study. You and Charles Sovek are an inspiration to anyone who enjoys art and color. Thanks for your website and your inspiring art. Ted from GeorgiaTaos Painting Workshop Kathleen Elsey Rio Grand

I cannot tell you how many times I have reflected on this past weekend with such warm and positive thoughts about our (Kathleen Elsey) painting workshop. Your inspiration and instruction was superb. I feel like I really made so much progress in just 2 days! Thank you so much for such a wonderful experience.
Marcia from New York

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