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Richard Houston’s Landscape Painting (Summer 2021)

June 27th, July 11th, 18th 25th, – August 1st and 8th 3:30 -6:30 est. Students may watch recordings of classes posted the evening of each class if they are not able to attend live on Zoom. HOMEWORK is due Thursday evenings by midnight PST. Zoom links are emailed the night before class.

Summer is approaching and it’s time to get out and paint the landscape.

Through a series of lectures, demonstrations, exercises, and individual critiques this course will address the following topics:

  • How to organize values more effectively
  • How to work with value key and value contrast
  • Working with trees and vegetation
  • Designing for viewer interest
  • How to see and improve color temperature relationships in your work
  • Working with limited palettes
  • The short sketch
  • Longer studies

This landscape course is suitable for both the beginning painter and the experienced artist. All media is acceptable; students may work traditionally, digitally, or a combination of both media.

June 27th, July 11th, 18th 25th, – August 1st and 8th 3:30 -6:30 est. Students may watch recordings of classes posted the evening of each class if they are not able to attend live on Zoom. HOMEWORK is due Thursday evenings by midnight PST. Zoom links are emailed the night before class.

Richard’s Drawing America Students

This is one of the best classes I’ve ever taken! – S

Hi Richard. Thank you so much for a great class and everything that you’ve taught us over the weeks! It was so fun to bring everything we’ve learned into the still lifes. I definitely feel more confident about color now. – L

First of all, a big thank you for giving this great course, I have learned a lot from it and will in the future. Using color in my work has always scared me, part of that probably because I didn’t know how to use it properly.  – D

This course really helped to wrap my mind around using color practically, and I am eager to implement these new tricks into my future work! – K

Richard – Thanks very much for a terrific course. I have learned much and learned how much more I have to learn! I’ll take this one again next time it’s offered. – T

Thank you for a wonderful class. I learned so much and many things were clarified for me. – P

Thank you Richard! I loved this class. – G

Richard Houston is a full-time professor at the famed art school, Art Center specializing in foundational education for Illustration, Fine Art, and Entertainment students. Mr. Houston is a regular lecturer and educator for both the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Norton Simon Museum. He has developed programs for major exhibitions addressing a variety of subjects including Rembrandt, Gustav Klimt, Gustave Courbet, Classicism, Italian Baroque Painting, British Watercolor, Andrea del Sarto, J. M. W. Turner, Jean -Honoré Fragonard Drawings, Picasso Lithographs, and Japanese Ukiyo-e. Richard Houston was the J. Paul Getty’s Artist in Residence for 2012 and has been teaching at ArtCenter since 2001. 

Students may participate in this course through a variety of mediums (including digital) and I would recommend working in a medium that is comfortable. It is preferable that students have some painting experience, and although this is not a painting technique course, individual issues may be addressed with the instructor through discussions and critiques. 

For a choice of color palettes, I have listed my general preference below. Students may, however, satisfactorily complete the exercises in a simple palette of White, Black, Ultramarine Blue (of Phthalo Blue), Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow Lemon, and Raw Umber.

I recommend high value, professional grade artist paints. Student grade paints are less expensive and do have their place, however, since this course also stresses learning to see and work with color, it is unproductive to work with substandard pigments.

Please note the number after the color is not always sufficient for identifying the correct color or paint (for example, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, and Burnt Umber all have the same pigment designation PBr 7) and the name of the pigment alone is not sufficient.  Hence, the lists below contain both the common name and the pigment number designation

If a tube of paint specifies a color (for example, cadmium yellow medium) followed by the term ‘hue’ that means the oil paint inside that tube is made from less expensive pigments in an effort to imitate the specified color. Unfortunately, these ‘hue’ colors are student grade and unsatisfactory for our exercises.

I recommend the following colors when working in oil or acrylic. Most of the colors listed below will be found in a traditional palette. Please note, there may be some newer, organic colors that are similar in appearance to the paints specified below and may be used if they are of high quality.

  1. Cadmium Yellow Lemon or primrose; this should be a very light yellow, slightly on the greenish side (PY 35 or 37)
  2. Cadmium Yellow Medium or dark (this should be on the orange side of yellow) (PY35 or 37)
  3. Cadmium Red Scarlet (or light) (PR108)
  4. Alizarin Crimson (PR 83)
  5. Ultramarine Blue (PB 29)
  6. Phthalo Turquoise (PB 16); a green shade of Phthalo Blue
  7. Yellow Orchre (PY 43) (please note; I do not recommend Windsor Newton Yellow Ochre)
  8. Raw Sienna (PBr 7)
  9. Transparent Red Oxide (this should be a transparent dark warm red/brown) (PR 101); it may also be listed as Burnt Sienna (if so the pigment number should be PR101 and not PB7), Transparent Maroon or Transparent Red Earth (Gamblin). If the paint is listed as PBr 7 it is incorrect. 
  10. Raw Umber (PBr 7)
  11. Titanium White (PW 6)
  12. Ivory Black (PBk 9)

Optional colors

  1. Quinacridone Magenta (PR 122); not all manufactures make a paint with this pigment; however, Windsor Newton does
  2. Diaoxazine Purple (PV 23) or Ultramarine Violet (PV 15) 
  3. Phthalo Blue (PB 15) and Phthalo Green (PG 7) substituting for Phthalo Turquoise

Gouache is simply opaque watercolor. Some pigments, such as yellow ochre, are naturally opaque while other pigments, such as Ultramarine Blue, are naturally transparent. White gouache can be added to transparent watercolors to make them opaque. Theoretically, one may work in watercolor traditionally, work with watercolor paints in a gouache technique (with the addition of white gouache, either titanium or zinc white, to make them opaque), or one may work primarily with gouache paints. 

Unfortunately, because gouache is opaque manufactures tend to utilize lesser quality pigment in addition to adding fillers, making for a poor-quality paint. My recommendation is to buy gouache for some pigments and for the darker, transparent pigments, purchase tubes of watercolor (I have noted below which pigments are recommended as watercolor).

Watercolor comes in either tubes or dry pans and either of these will work well as watercolor. On the other hand, when working with gouache, and for the exercises in this course, the paint should be wet. If you would like to work in a gouache technique purchase paints that come in tubes. 

  1. White Gouache: Titanium White (PW 6) or Zinc White (PW 5) I would recommend a large tube of white.
  2. Black Gouache: Carbon Black (PBk 6) or Lamp Black (PBk 7)
  3. Cadmium Yellow Lemon (PY 35 or 37) or an organic equivalent (this color should be a very light yellow on the greenish side). 
  4. Cadmium Yellow Medium or Deep (PY 35 or 37) or an organic equivalent (this should be a yellow on the orange side). This can and probably should be watercolor as it is naturally opaque
  5. Cadmium Red Scarlet (or light) (PR108). This can and probably should be watercolor as it is naturally opaque
  6. A cool dark red such as Alizarin Crimson (PR 83), Permanent Rose (PV 19), or Perylene Maroon (PR 179). I recommend the Alizarin above the others. This should be watercolor.
  7. Ultramarine Blue (PB 29). This should be watercolor.
  8. Phthalo Blue (PB 15). This should be watercolor.
  9. Phthalo Green (PG 7). This should be watercolor.
  10. Raw Umber (PBr 7) (this should be a very dark brown, close in value to black. Some manufacturers are using lighter PBr 7 that are closer to a raw sienna and not suitable for our purposes)
  11. Transparent Red Oxide (PR 101) this may also be titled as Burnt Sienna Deep (Da Vinci) as well. This should be watercolor.
  12. Yellow Ochre (PY 43)

Optional Colors:

  1. Raw Sienna (PBr 7)
  2. Diaoxazine Purple (PV 23) or Ultramarine Violet (PV 15) (watercolor)
  3. Quinacridone Magenta (PR 122) or a very saturated red violet. This probably should be watercolor.

Oils and Acrylic

I find that brushes are frequently a personal choice and if a student has some experience painting, they probably own a variety of brushes. Additional questions on brushes may be addressed in class. 

I would recommend one larger palette knife for mixing and a small, spade style knife for sometimes applying color. 

Gouache and Watercolor

For working in gouache please have a 1” (or ¾”), a ½” flat sable (natural or synthetic) brush, and a round sable (natural or synthetic) that comes to a point. 

For working in watercolor any combination of round and flat brushes is acceptable. 

Oils and Acrylic

For oils, sheets of canvas (as found on a canvas pad), canvas boards, or panels with be sufficient and these do not need to be of the highest quality. For acrylic paint, one may use the same surfaces as one would in oil or you may consider using matt board as well. 

I would prefer that students work from life (plein-air) as much as possible (as opposed to only from photography). This may be a consideration when one is choosing the size of canvas. 

Gouache and Watercolor

I prefer watercolor paper for the exercises in this class, however, watercolor matt board or Bristol board will also work. For the gouache painter an inexpensive watercolor paper will suffice. If you are working in watercolor only, I would recommend a high-quality watercolor paper, such as Arches cold pressed 140# (it will spoil you if you have not used it before).

Oils and Acrylic

I personally prefer to work on a glass palette in the studio because it is cleaned easily. For plein-air a wooden palette (or even palette paper with proper palette management) will be satisfactory. If you are painting with acrylic paints you will need to have a means (such as a damp paper towel folded under the paint) to keep the paint wet.

Gouache and Watercolor

For gouache/watercolor one may use a variety of materials for a palette. 

For gouache I like the Masterson’s Sta-Wet palette, as it will save paint for days and even weeks. One may also use most any waterproof surface (a plate, piece of plastic, a butchers tray along with a means (such as a damp paper towel folded under the paint) to keep the paint wet. 

For watercolor a simple watercolor palette will suffice. 

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Course Includes

  • 7 Lessons