Most of the year we are painting in Rocca Malatina (near Bologna) Italy.  Because this is a destination painting side, we suggest a 3 or 5 day workshop.

We paint by custom order, or in the month of June in Paris.  Our usual venues are along the Seine, the Luxembourg Gardens, or Giverny.

How do you decide where or what to paint outdoors? By walking around. I liken my perambulations to a dog looking for just the right place to lie down. I circle my site three times, before “flopping”. There are clearly better places to paint than others. I sometimes go to places where other artists painted because there is an aura there which says “paint!”

Keeping a low profile is critical in outdoor painting. If you are too obvious, people will pose, object, kibitz, or somehow interfere with your best intentions. I carry a small folding easel if I am going to use an easel. When I paint in a café, I paint on 8 x 10 inch boards I can hold on my lap. Outdoors, I generally limit myself to 16 x 20 inches; I find larger canvases difficult to manage and impossible to finish in a timely fashion. David Hockney would beg to differ, I know – he is painting fabulous work of huge scale, in acrylic, in the Cotswolds.


Painting “en plein air” takes some planning, but the effect is worth it. Nothing is more rewarding than painting on site. You work in the actual light which falls naturally on your subject. Think of all those versions of the cathedral at Rouen by Monet. You have a sense of the air, the atmosphere, the place itself. The people or objects populating the scene are REAL. Photos can’t capture the elements of the scene that the painter can emphasize or edit in his or her picture.

The painter needs to put a three-dimensional object onto a two dimensional surface. This dynamic transmits onto the canvas your spark, your individual interpretation, a little bit of your own brain/muse’s personality. This interpretation makes your work unique. A photo is already two dimensional, so one copies what one sees. En plein air, one is forced to transfer the actual volume of the scene onto a two dimensional surface. The clatter of dishes, the smell of the dinner, elbows on the table can all be suggested by the artist.

My goal is always to finish my painting in one swoop. If you must “go back” be sure to go back at the same time of day, under the same lighting conditions. To finish a painting in one session, I must concentrate on the essential elements. I paint “loosely” when I paint outside, something every painter I know wants to do. Take photos if you must, but only for reference in finishing up. After you paint outdoors, or on site, you will be able to see the difference between your “plein air” work and paintings from photos.

Although one thinks mainly of figurative painting when painting “en plein air”, it is not strictly limited to painting what one exactly sees. Paul Klee and John Marin painted outdoors. Consider Turner’s abstract skies and water. Turner was such a dedicated “plein air-ist” he reportedly had himself tied to the mast of a ship to realize the impact of a storm at sea. He did witness and paint the burning of the houses of Parliament in situ.


Frequently asked questions:

How do I reserve?
After you book the venue you would like, we send a confirmation email.  We include our contact information and a place to meet on the day of the workshop.   A 50-Euro deposit per person is required upon booking; instructions on how to pay the balance will be detailed in a follow-up email.

How do I pay?
You can send a check (Euros or dollar equivalent) to our European or US address or pay through Paypal.    After your deposit is paid, we make arrangements for the balance — usually paid the day of the workshop.

What if I never painted before?  Do I need to know how to paint?
A lot of our “painters” never painted before – this is the perfect situation to give it a try.  We’ll help you mix colors, lay out a picture, get started.  Some of our best painters are those who don’t have a fixed idea of how it will turn out.  On the other hand, we have welcomed professional painters.

Can I take my picture home?
Of course!  We offer a variety of canvas sizes, one of which will fit in your suitcase.  We can also ship your work back to you.

What about cancellations?
Cancellations are accepted up to one week before; otherwise the deposit is forfeited but may be used for a future tour or transferred to another person.

What if it’s raining?
We stand under trees, in a kiosk, beneath a bridge; and we have painted from the car/van. Sorry, there are no cancellations in the event of rain, but we will do our best to keep dry.

How many people will there be?
The number of people depends on who signs up.  Many days there will just be you, and other days up to six.   We can make the tour “exclusive” for a small upcharge.  Likewise, we can extend our workshop to larger groups.  Our largest group has been nineteen – a class of students between the ages of 14 – 18 years.  We host students of all ages – and have had groups consisting of three generations!

If you need more information or have questions, please email us at lfpessemier@gmail.com.

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