View Full Version : Any Preparation Advice for attending a McKinley Workshop?

alaskan rose
01-04-2008, 01:54 AM
I have never attended a workshop before and am signed up to attend Richard McKinley's summer workshop in Bend. I would love any advice any of you have to give regarding getting the most out of a workshop. THANKS !! :wave:

Also leads regarding any previous threads that may address workshop questions and tips would be great!

Shirl Parker
01-04-2008, 04:49 PM
He is doing a weekly blog for Pastel Journal, so you could go online and keep up with it, might give you questions to ask in person. He also has his own website, so I would familiarize myself with that. Google him and see what else you can find out that might be useful.

When I took a watercolor workshop with Arnold Lowrey, I bought his book and did some exercises ahead of time, but I can't find that McKinley has a book.


01-04-2008, 05:44 PM
You will absolutely adore Richard, he is an amazing teacher. He is funny, warm, entertaining, and full of knowledge. I cannot speak highly enough about this truly wonderful artist and teacher. I start classes with him again on January 17th and I can't wait!! You might familiarize yourself with the watercolor underpainting and he likes to use Wallis paper, though we have used ampersand pastel board in class too. He is very clear and easy to understand. He knows how to say things so that each person understands what he is saying. He has us start out with thumbnail sketches in different formats and then using pencil, yes pencil, draw your picture and put in values. The under drawing goes away with the underpainting usually. Your supply list may list watercolors and if it does, then you will be doing the watercolor underpaint which is so much fun! Richard has a very light touch and has perfected the art of not putting too much pastel on. I am always amazed by his light touch, whereas I have a pretty heavy hand.

Here are a few pics: the first one is Richard's box, organized by value and color, with light on top, dark on bottom, and grays off to the side.

The second and third pics are a sample of my boat painting in the drawing and underpaint phases. Enjoy your class, you are so fortunate to take a workshop with him!!!





01-04-2008, 08:40 PM
The most important thing is to have your pastels organized and a good supply. Check his supply list, he does a great job telling you what you will need. I attended his workshop this fall and he seemed concerned about us having a good supply of pastels so follow his guidance.

On his website in the calendar section where he lists his workshops you can see the supply list. http://www.mckinleystudio.com

From the above link you can also email him. Richard is very friendly and will answer your questions.

During the workshop when he comes around, it helps him if you ask questions or ask for specific guidance. You will get as much from him as you put into it.

One more item that I think would be nice to know. He will work and teach from dawn until dark. Have water and food. Don't plan on any organized breaks. It really is quite wonderful and once Richards starts teaching he is very generous with his knowledge so be ready to work hard and have fun. He is an entertainer as well.

I hope this is helpful. I love the workshops in Bend. There are so many places to paint that you will be painting from the high alpine mountains down to the sage and desert.


01-05-2008, 12:05 AM
Hi Margie,

I have not taken a workshop with Richard before, but like the others here, have only heard the very best.

I do think it is important to have all the supplies that are asked for on the list, and to have an idea of what will be happening during the week. However, I would like to stress ones approach to attending a workshop. When I go to one, I leave all my preconceived ideas about picture making behind, and really pay attention to what the instructor is telling and showing me and try to emulate the exercises as closely as possible. I make sure that I do not go into the workshop expecting to come out with finished paintings, and also know that it will be a rollercoaster ride of frustrations and successes. Just like when we are painting for ourselves. One other thing that I will prepare for before I attend a workshop, is to know the specific reason I am seeking this particular artist out. What is it about Mr. McKinley's work that I am drawn to, what specific thing do I want to understand more fully, and make sure I ask the particular questions. I guess what I am trying to say is go in with an open mind.

I am jealous! Have a wonderful workshop.

alaskan rose
01-05-2008, 03:11 AM
You guys (girls:D) are the absolute best!! Thank you so much for all the good, practical advice!

Shirl, I have checked out his blogsite for the Pastel Journal, there is alot to absorb there, I will keep studying it in the days to come. I have some of his articles from a variety of art magazines and will gather them together to review again as well. Thanks!

Shari, thank you for sharing all those first hand tips. I am particularly interested in his underpainting with watercolor technique. I love what you have done with the boats, I think you must have done the same with your other painting that you posted in your 2 favs of 2007. Thanks for the heads up on the underdrawing. I have been thinking to do some plein air value sketches with pencil or pen. I use Wallis paper and have tried to organize my pastels as he has. I have a hard time seeing the grays versus the other colors if they tend at all toward neutral.

Donna, I will check out the site from his calendar and see what supplies are mentioned. I am looking forward to being taught from dawn til dusk!! Thanks for the tip about food :D We've been through central Oregon many times, I also love the varied terrain and am looking forward to the workshop in Bend.

Kim, thanks for taking time to pass on some valuable advice. Someday I'm going to take a workshop from you I hope! :) Thanks for the tips about leaving preconceived expectations on the shelf, not worrying about coming away with finished paintings, but rather absorbing what it is that the instructor is teaching. Also to know what I specifically love about McKinley's work that I want to learn.

I am SO excited, I hope I can share with you afterwards my thoughts and experiences.

01-05-2008, 01:10 PM
I took his workshop in September and it was an awesome experience. He is a wonderful instructor. The advice given about having the right supplies is sound. Mounted wallis paper is worth the expense and you will probably need 2 per day unless you are very good and very quick - you have to remember that his "introduction" and demos will take some time away from your painting time, but that is why you are there - to see how he does it.
He also really likes the purple grays(giraults), he may have the numbers listed on the supply list, but if not, email him and I'm sure he will get back to you.
Have fun and expect that you may not be able to resist in signing uo for another of his workshops.....

alaskan rose
01-05-2008, 09:47 PM
Tatijana, thanks for the advice on the giraults. I didn't see any recommendation on types of pastels to bring, other than lots and no oils of course. I will ask him what numbers. I was planning to take mounted Wallis paper, any recommendation on size? I was thinking 9X12 for plein air. He recommends 1/8 or 1/4 sheets of a full sheet (24x36) which is 9x12 or 12x18. I usually do smaller field studies, do you see a need to have the larger size as well? I also have some mounted 11x14's. What do you think about other shapes, like square or panoramic format?

01-06-2008, 02:04 PM
I think either will be fine. At home(studio) I paint large, but found that 9x12 (as well as smaller)was a sufficient challenge for me in plein air. And if you manage to finish , you can always start another small one. If you have different shapes(square or panorama) I would bring them, as long as they are a manageable size - might allow you more creativity in composition. I had larger papers, but never used them.

several other pieces of learned advice:

I learned for plein air was to have a black foam board or gator board to tape my paper to. I had white, he had black - now I use black - less reflection.

It will save you time to try to arrange your pastels like he has them. It makes it easier for him to work with you if he needs. If your pastels are in a mess, he will most likely have you arrange them before you go out(he checked ours and let us know how deficient we were :eek: )

i had never done plein air(or landscape) before, so I did plenty of research -an umbrella over your easel was necessary and I chose to get one from artwork essential(easyl) that was just awesome and is recommended by him as well as Marc Hanson and others in the plein air forum here on wetcanvas.
just great for windier conditions.

As to the purples, I went to a La conner workshop, so we were lucky - the Dakota pastel store set up a "temporary" store with supplies that might be needed or were ordered for the worshop by the participants.

He does a critique of all your work on the last afternoon of the workshop. You might want to bring photos of your work to show him for comments and/or advice. He may or may not do this, but he forgot to mention it in the letter for out workshop, so not everyone had photos of their previous work. Better armed and ready if you choose to be.

Cant think of anything else at the moment. maybe someonr else can remember more...
good luck and have lots of fun.

01-06-2008, 03:59 PM
Richard is so very energetic and excited about art, his positive attitude is infectious! He is a fabulous teacher - be prepared to work hard but have a lot of fun - alot like going to camp.

For supplies - get at least 3 pieces per day of mounted Wallis paper (his website has to link to the company in Oregon that mounts Wallis paper - the stuff from Dakota is not as good but will serve your purpose). Otherwise, it is hard to practice his techniques. He also shows an oil underpainting technique so if you want to practice this, bring a warm & cool of the 3 primaries (very small tubes) - perhaps someone will have turpenoid that you can use.

Have your pastels separated by value - be sure to bring many greyed colors. He will "pass" off your palette before you go paint.

Bring watercolors and a stiff brush that you expect to get ruined. It is surprizing what Wallis paper does to brushes. Practice watercolor underpainting ahead of time of you get a chance, especially if you aren't familiar with the change in value with drying.

Bring enough notebook paper for notes - he provides much information.

Bring enough slides for the critique. Again, he will provide you with valuable information.

Bring him extra bottes of water and perhaps a snack. He forgets to eat and drink!!!! We artists need to take care of him - he is a gem!

Tell him the folks from Minnesota send our love! :)

Be prepared to work all day but he doesn't care if you come and go as needed.

I'm soooooo jealous - I took a workshop in August and I'm still excited! I hope to get back to him soon!

Have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David Patterson
01-06-2008, 04:04 PM
Margie...ditto what Shari says...you'll love him!

Here is a link to an article I wrote on his workshop. It was published by Artspan a few month ago:


Hope that helps some.


alaskan rose
01-07-2008, 01:31 AM
I appreciate you all so much, you have given me LOTS to do, great advice, plus your enthusiasm is SO contagious!

Tatiana, thanks for the lengthy informative post, many things I would not have thought of, like the black gatorboard and I need to get an umbrella. Also great tip about slides and previous work. Do they have to be slides or can you bring a CD with digital photos?

Cheryl, great tips on taking some oils for an underpainting, I will have watercolors, I need to bone up on them some. Yeah, Wallis paper is tough on brushes!! :eek: I will remember to pack some extra snacks, I'll say hi for you, too.:)

David, I remember so well when you returned from the IAPS convention and posted your workshop. I actually practiced doing that same photo and what he did. I never did finish the pastel part, but learned alot. Your finished piece turned out great.

I think I will print out all these great tips and get the highlighter out and start preparing. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!! :clap:

01-07-2008, 02:35 PM
At the September workshop most brought photos of their work. He looked at them as you were putting up your week's worth of work, commented on them and then the photos got passed around the group while he critiqued the work you just put up.
So i'd say bring what you have,cd and/or slides dont take much space, but photos would be a safe back up and always work.
Come to think of it, he brought his own projector and already had slides in a carousel, so a cd may be a better bet. He had a laptop as well as some other people. But things may be done differently at each workshop....
Another potentially helpful hint - one of Richard's friend/student/protege' had among her plein air equipment --- an Eagle Creek packing folder(for shirts etc - see rei.com) to keep her premounted wallis boards in (she used the different sizes accordingly to her needs) and used it as an oil painter would a wet canvas carrier (with glassine to protect each board). Said she picked this up from Richard. I had one with me for my clothes, but quickly exchanged clothes for the week's worth of paintings.
You will notice that he is one of the most meticulous of pastel painters and has everything in its place -all the time... would take more than a week to have something like that rub off on me.!:D

alaskan rose
01-07-2008, 07:08 PM
METICULOUS?!?? :eek: :eek: :eek: Maybe THAT is what I need this workshop for, first and foremost. I have ALOT to learn in that department!! Thanks, Tatiana, for the info on photos/slides, etc, also the head's up about transporting work. Meticulous :rolleyes:, hmm, this is going to be some year if that goes in my New Year's resolutions! :D