Winslow Art Center (via Zoom) REGISTER >
Thursdays: 9/15, 10/ 6, 11/10, 12/8
3-5PM Pacific Time, 6-8PM Eastern Time
Sign up for one or more classes; class size not limited.

Sketching nature is a powerful tool for connecting to the wider world around us. This class will focus on multiple approaches to capturing nature-related subjects with an eye toward deepening our understanding, appreciation, and connection to the places we live or visit. Working primarily in ink and watercolor, we’ll focus on a variety of subjects to help you build your artistic skills while experimenting with different layouts and techniques.

September 15: Field Notes
This session will focus on capturing and learning about the natural history of your subject with simple sketches and watercolor washes, as well as notes, research, questions, call outs, and closeups. We’ll use mushrooms as our subject, but this technique is one you can use with any nature-related subject.

October 6: Poetry of Nature Sketch
A nature journal is not just about nature—it’s also about you. It’s about what you see, what fascinates you, and what you want to express. This session will explore ways to capture the essence of your subject with a detailed painting paired with a quote or poem that expresses what’s important to you. We’ll choose a fall subject, like colorful leaves, dried grasses, and late-season flowers, for this session’s focus.

November 10: Explorer’s Sketch
Imagine walking along a trail, or the roadside, or at the beach, sketchbook in hand…you don’t know what you’re going to find. Something catches your eye—you sketch it quickly—then move on. Another thing strikes you and you sketch it on the same page, continuing until your page is full. During this session, we’ll use a collection of objects found on a beach and focus on how to capture a sense of discovery on a single page. This technique works well anytime you are exploring and want to sketch multiple subjects connected by a theme.

December 8: Sense of Place Sketch
Learn to use a flexible grid format to capture key elements of a particular place. This technique is especially useful when traveling or anytime you want to convey a sense of place with multiple small sketches, such as landscapes, maps, plants, wildlife, or simple color swatches and words. Choose your own place and reference photos for this class or work from images provided by the instructor.

Winslow Art Center, via Zoom
Thursdays, 3-5 PT, 6-8pm ET
January 5, 19, February 2, 16

Sign up for one month or both; class size not limited.

Don’t let cold winter months break your sketching and painting habit. Build your skills, try new subjects, stay inspired, and connect with others in this lively winter series. Each month includes two class sessions and four fun weekly prompts that you can post to an online class group for feedback. Sign up for the month of January or February or sign up for both at a discounted rate.


1/5 Sketcher’s Tea: A Lesson in Light and Shadows- Brew a cup of tea, bring your favorite cup and saucer, and focus on the critical painting skill of conveying light, form, and value. Using teacups as our subject, we’ll take a fresh look at form and cast shadows, mix shadow colors, and practice using loose brushwork to create convincing shadows and capture a sense of light.

1/19 Winter Bouquet- Gather a collection of winter grasses and dried flowers or evergreen sprigs or paint from provided reference photos as we sketch a winter bouquet. This lesson provides a good opportunity to capture curling leaf shapes, combine simple and complex forms, and work on composition. We’ll finish off the sketch with a quote or poem in praise of winter.


2/2 Bare Branches- Winter is the perfect time of year for observing and sketching trees. This class will focus on the structure of different types of trees and how to use negative shapes to your advantage when drawing them. We’ll use simple watercolor washes to capture tree forms and shadows.

2/16 Feeder Birds– Sketch and paint birds that are frequently seen at bird feeders in winter: chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice. This session will also help you practice how to make a limited palette go a long way to create lively paintings.

Arts and Birding, August 20-25, 2023
Hog Island Audubon Camp, Maine– Registration opens November 9, 2022
Please note that I will not be teaching at Hog Island this year, as I will be pursuing other travels. But if you are interested in a wonderful opportunity to explore and enjoy the beauty of Maine’s rocky coast while immersing yourself in sketching and painting, this workshop is for you!

Interesting in Hosting a Workshop?

Contact me. The best thing to do is to reach out via e-mail and tell me what you have in mind. Then we can arrange to talk on the phone to discuss details. I like to tailor a workshop to the needs of each group. Fees vary based on travel and workshop length.
jeanmackayart (at) gmail (dot) com
Here are a few possibilities:

  • Sketching Nature with Pencil, Pen, and Paint
  • Illustrated Journaling in Watercolor
  • Drawing Birds
  • The Art of the Bird: Eggs, Feathers and Nests
  • Travel Sketching with Watercolor

59 Comments on “Workshops

  1. How I wish I could join you! Just stumbled across your blog and I love it. Will you post any future classes you do, please? What fun!!! I live on the other side of the country but one can always dream. Like you, I am drawn to art and draw, paint, cut paper and do letterpress printing almost non-stop.

    • So glad you found the blog! Put a little note on your refrigerator and someday you will get to Hog Island– it is worth the trip! I will post future workshops, as well as some photos and artwork from the week ahead of Arts and Birding!

  2. I am also dreaming of painting with you. I love Maine and I love your art, maybe someday. I put it on my bucket list.
    Do you ever do any online workshops?

    • Hi Teri- It would be so fun to meet you and share some time sketching and painting! Do put Arts and Birding on your bucket list! I love the southwest, so maybe someday I’ll make it back there. For now, I don’t have any online workshops because my work/life schedule is pretty packed.

  3. Your birds on the toned paper really shine, Jean. And your class sounds like a dream…not this coming year for me, but perhaps a later year if you’re still doing them. I love Maine and birds and sketching!

    • Thanks Diana. I love Maine and birds and sketching, too. I’m fortunate to have found Hog Island years ago. Do keep it on your TO DO list!!

  4. I want to receive your emails. Lovely work!

  5. stunning blog.. a true gift… have you published a book?.. it would be wonderful to be able to have it in my hands!.. you are a master

    • Thanks Sandra– so glad you like what you see here. I haven’t published a book (yet?); perhaps someday. For now, I’m content to keep exploring, drawing and painting.

  6. thanks for responding..sorry there is not a book, but keep on exploring and so happy to be a viewer of your creations…thanks again

  7. Yay … I have signed up for the new workshop in July! Now I can’t wait. Love the coast, islands, and the adventures. Looking forward to meeting you and learning everything I can about capturing the true essence of Maine! Both via sketching and through photography.

    • Terrific Carole! So glad you signed up– I’ll look forward to meeting you! It will be a great week. Melissa Groo is excellent as a photographer instructor, too.

  8. Having trouble finding info about the workshop in July – am really interested in learning to draw/paint birds

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  10. Hi, I took my first watercolor class and the instructor yelled at me this week because i left white areas in certain parts of the painting…the exercise was just started too. I had been planning to do a light wash over the area. Wow, his behavior has me sort of freaked out! I’d like to continue learning but from a different instructor and maybe a different style. He was pretty focused on his method and style. I am open to different styles but figure we develop our own eventually. I like what you paint and I’m hoping to find someone in Seattle who teaches painting nature – like you!
    Now if I can just let go of what happened this week…

    • Geez– that would be kind of traumatizing for a beginner. I’m sorry you had this experience! My first (and only) watercolor class was similar, but, thankfully, without the yelling. The instructor was VERY fastidious and I found it hard to work so precisely in her style. It seems like you may need a course that shows you different watercolor techniques and color mixing, and then you can take those skills to develop your own style and apply them to what you want to paint. I’m sure you’ll find your way, but I encourage you not to let this week’s encounter discourage you! Just learn what you can from this teacher and carry on!

      • Thanks for understanding! I’ll keep searching until I find a place to try again…as well as working at home with what I’ve learned so far.

      • PJ Marie, have you tried Kateri Ewing with Craftsy? Checkout Jane Blundell … wonderful website on watercolors and Liz Steel will be doing a Watercolor on-line course later this year. I did her Foundations course and she was excellent. Good luck.

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  13. Hi! I am trying to sign up for the July workshop but am having a heck of a time signing up online… it’s very frustrating! Is there another way to sign up? Thank you!

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  16. Looks like I missed out on your online course at Winslow Art Centre which is just as well probably as it would 3am AEST (Australian East coast). Huge fan and love receiving your blog emails and reading your tips and techniques. I’m already a fairly competent watercolour nature artist but love your compositions and colour choices and always up for more. If you ever decide to teach a class in the evening your time it would probably work for Australians up through our time zone to Japan and other nearby countries to us. Thanks for teaching even if I can’t make it.

    • Thanks for checking in. No one needs a 3am class! But if I do another session I will try to do it later in the day so that it works better for a new set of people. This will be my first online class, so I want to see if I like it– having a lot of interaction in a class is important to me, so we’ll see how it goes.

  17. I hope to get to Hog Island eventually but in the meantime I’d love to hear about your next online workshop!

    • Thanks Cathy. Sorry my teaching is so limited. I work full time, so I can only manage a few workshops a year. I’m hoping that teaching online works out– I prefer in person, but there are some advantages of an online format.

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    • Hi Terry- Thanks for reaching out. I usually just post workshops here when they arise, but the online ones filled so fast that it was surprisingly hard to get in. I prefer to limit the number in the workshop so that there is more individual attention. I’ll pull your email and try to alert you to future sessions.

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  21. I would like to follow your blog. Your painting is wonderful!

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  24. I am in for the Currier Museum of Art. The class looks great. The Currier website looks excellent as well so will be visiting often. Thank you!

  25. Got quite excited when I read Winslow…about 30 minute drive from me. Unfortunately my Winslow is in Buckinghamshire UK not New Hampshire! I love your delicate style. Please tell me what materials you use….is it HP paper? Is the line work pencil or very fine pen?

    • Hi Anne- Sorry to disappoint with the wrong Winslow! I use a fine pen for drawing– typically a Micron 02 or 005 black– and I find it works well for detailed drawing and for lettering. I love fountain pens, but tend to smear the ink before it dries, so the Micron pens work better for me for field sketching. The paper in my Stillman & Birn sketchbook (Zeta series) is very smooth, much like hot press watercolor paper. I like it for the combination of ink and watercolor, though the watercolor can take some finesse and getting used to. Hope that helps– feel free to write again or ask additional questions. — Jean

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  30. Hi Jean. I am very interested in 2023 Hogg Island Maine workshop if you are going to teach it again. When does the info come out with dates? And registration?
    Thanks much. I have loved your online classes. Thank you so much for offering them.

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  33. Jean, I don’t see a way to register for these 4 classes in the fall mentioned in this latest posting. How can I register?

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