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The Plein Air Zone - Your On-Line Master Class

Learn sure fire techniques, valuable insight and enjoy the painting adventures with Eric Michaels by catching up on the past newsletter articles.


Painting the Plan

Years ago, when I was just beginning my career as an artist, an older, more wizened artist gave me some advice. He said, “Don’t paint the painting. Paint the plan for the painting.” I confess - that sagacious tidbit puzzled me for years. Read Article


Getting into Shape

In the early part of my career, I saw the world as a conglomerate of isolated, individual objects, with distinct outlines. This is hardly surprising, considering the rewards of my early art education were commensurate with how well I “stayed within the lines”. Read Article




Here is just a little bit of what you will find in the Archives:

Painting Demos


Step by step how tos


En Plein Air adventures


Critical thinking on techniques

las flores

A great FREE resource for improving your painting




The Taboo of Painting from Photographs
Photography is a tool like any other tool. It is a means to an end. A good artist knows how to use photos, and not be used by them. Read Article

When Your Mind is on Vacation
I’ve occasionally had some of those “out of my head” experiences, where I’ve actually been the observer, watching my hand applying pigment to canvas or paper, as if someone else was actually doing it. Then, of course, a moment later my mind yells, “Hey, dummy, that’s your hand!”.

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Let It Snow
Snow has so many unique qualities that one could write a book based solely on painting snow. But, my purpose here is to share a couple of painting demonstrations, one in watercolor and one in oil, to illustrate some painting approaches that might be useful when confronted with snowscape.
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Turning Negatives Into Positives

When I was a child, learning to draw, I had a natural tendency to identify all objects by their outline. With all their subject matter being outlined, coloring books went a long way in reinforcing the model of outlining everything. Praise was always bestowed on the kids who were most adept at staying within the lines.

For me, this model of seeing the world as a bunch of disconnected objects became basically indelible. I was well into my art career when I had an epiphany.

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Watercolor Demo: Aspen Glow

......I’m including a couple of examples of how I take my plein air sketches, and adapt them into larger, more finished studio paintings. I found this small sketch, liked the design, and decided to work up a slightly larger piece, using the sketch as the foundation.

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Making Your Paintings Stronger

Have you ever walked into an exhibition and had a painting, far across the room, grab your attention and lure you over? Even before you can recognize the subject matter, and define the technique, it dominates the wall, and there’s some strength about it that draws you like a magnet.

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Developing a Style
I seriously doubt whether my collectors continuously fret over the characterization of my painting style. I do know, however, that style seems to be a concern of the students that I teach. It is, nonetheless, a bit like worrying if your handwriting will look like yours.
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If Sargent Had Painted Hitler

An interesting thing happened a few weeks back. I sold the painting “Little Big Horn – June 25, 1876” (30x50” oil) at auction, and decided to post the image on Facebook.
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Analyzing the Landscape Part 2
Seeing these masses, and recognizing the correct value relationship between them, can be particularly problematic for neophyte artists and those unaccustomed to painting on-location. So I’m offering a tool that I think may be helpful. Read Article

Analyzing the Landscape Part 1

The human eye is an amazing instrument. It allows us to see and interpret the shapes, colors, and dimensions of objects in the world by processing the light they reflect or emit. It is the artist’s greatest tool, and, sometimes, the greatest hindrance.
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Taking Your Studio En Plein Airpainting

I’m not sure that there’s anything more challenging for an artist than taking your paints on-location and confronting Nature head on.

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Knowing Your Palette

I don’t believe there is anything more sensuous or beautiful than the right mixture of pigments in a well-executed painting. Nonetheless, mixing the right colors seems to be an endless source of frustration for many artists.

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Discovered Painting
Sometimes I’ll have the seed of an idea for a painting, and yet not enough of a direction for the seed to germinate. It can begin with something as simple as a photo of a particular object, like a house, boat, barn, figure etc. Sometimes it’s just a mood, emotion or an inclination to paint something dramatic or saturnine. read article


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