Borrego Springs Workshop

Painting the Desert & the Color of Light 

Hosted by the Borrego Art Institute, Anza-Borrego State Park, California

Media: Oil
Where: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California, USA
Dates: March 11-13, 2018 

Tuition: $550 

To register, email Thomas at: 

This Spring, learn to paint the Southern California desert en plein air in the most direct way possible using alla prima techniques developed by Sargent, Sorolla, and Zorn. Learn how the color of the light impacts the color of the landscape, and see how such light fills the desert shadows, intensifying space and atmosphere. In addition, learn how to paint more rapidly, with more confidence, so you can capture the fleeting effects of nature.

Thomas will present informative demonstrations and personalized instruction that focus on simplifying what you see. Learn how to establish a dynamic composition using light and shadow, how to mix color with precision, and how to paint wet-into-wet – and when it is time to complete your painting with exciting touches of expressive impasto!

This is a rare chance for you to study in the Southern Californian low desert with Thomas.

So come see the desert bloom. Watch 15 world-class plein air painters work. Attend Borrego Art Institute’s Gala Reception. Then spend three days working on your painting skills with exceptional guidance and direction. 

Class size is limited so don’t delay!… 


Additional information So okay, Why a Desert Workshop?…

“The greatest masterpieces were once only pigments on a palette.” – Henry Hoskins

This workshop will focus on teaching you to become sensitive to the temperature of light, and how temperature affects the colors you see.

“Every time you shift to a different color or different hue you are creating interest. It's a subtle thing but it builds content.” – Clyde Aspevig

Desert mountains, arroyos, and vegetation are all neutral in hue and easily modified by the temperature of the light that illuminates them. For example, the different temperatures of the sun and sky push the local colors of the landscape toward warmer or cooler versions of themselves. In addition, any secondary light source coming in at a different angle is often a different temperature, which alters the colors you find in the shadows. Once you begin to see such warm and cool relationships you become capable of creating beautiful color harmonies, and sense of deep space and atmosphere around your subject.

“You put a blob of yellow here, and another at the further edge of the canvas: straight away a rapport is established between them. Colour acts in the way that music does.” – George Braque

Color is dynamic. When you change one hue it changes how you perceive the others. The strong light and simple forms found in an arid landscape provide ideal conditions for you to explore this concept. The stark natural beauty will also permit us to pursue other important painting concerns as well, such as paint handling, design, and composition.

“I apply color until I achieve a likeness.” – Paul Cezanne

This workshop will be practical and limited to what can be seen from direct observation. What you will learn from our time together can be applied to any situation - indoors or out - as well as any other subject you choose to paint, from the landscape, to the figure, to the still life.


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