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Landscape Painting: Capturing the Atmosphere

With Dave Santillanes

Rescheduled for Aug 19th, 20th, & 21st 2020

 To Register Call Jane 435-313-5008

Dave Santillanes

Dave Santillanes

“As my painting style continues to evolve my goal with each piece is not a literal rendering of the scene. Instead, it is to capture and convey its essence.

In terms of composition, I look for simplicity. I’ve found that there are many opportunities to simplify a scene without compromising its sense of ‘place’. Therefore I’ll seek out the big abstract shapes in the landscape and use them for the underlying design concept. And because I’ve departed from a literal interpretation, I’m free to rearrange elements to fit this concept. In this way, I am able to describe the scene in my own “words”.

Finally, capturing the essence of a landscape involves a realistic rendering of color, light, and atmosphere. This requires direct observation and is why most of my paintings begin in the field with a Plein air study. But studying the physical aspects of nature isn’t the only reason I paint outdoors; for me, the sensory experience of being there is equally important. There’s no better way to get to know a place on earth than to sit for a couple of hours and contemplate it while painting. This intense observation brings a spiritual intimacy with the scene that can’t be achieved in mere passing and allows me to “speak” with complete sincerity in each painting.”

A native of Colorado, Dave Santillanes began oil painting after graduating from Colorado State University with a BFA in graphic design. His early painting explorations quickly merged with his love of the outdoors and, naturally, oil paint and a field easel became part of his outdoor gear. His explorations into oil painting and the wilderness continue.

Dave’s work is characterized by a realistic rendering of color, light, and atmosphere. To capture these elusive elements, each studio painting begins in the field with a Plein air study. This direct approach allows Dave to achieve a realism unattainable through photographic studies alone. And while direct observation is important to study the physical aspects of color and light, Dave also believes that “painting outdoors brings a spiritual intimacy with the scene” allowing him to ‘speak’ with complete sincerity in the final painting.

Dave’s passion for painting has led to a number of recent awards including an Award of Excellence at the 2012 Oil Painters of America National Show and Artists Choice at the Zion National Park Plein Air Event. His work was also featured in the December 2011 issue of Southwest Art Magazine.


This workshop is for all levels and will focus on painting outdoors. Artists will learn to quickly gather the necessary visual information needed to complete a painting in the field. Learning how to simplify a landscape and interpret color and value rela- tionships, in order to create depth, will be a primary focus of this workshop. Other fundamental concepts will also be discussed including: how to compose and design a landscape, and the importance of values, shapes, and edges.

There will be slide presentations, demonstrations, critiques and lots of one-on-one instruction.

NOTE: In the event of inclement weather, artists should bring with them several reference photographs of landscapes for work in the studio.


See more of Dave’s work at HERE

Register Now
Call 435-313-5008

Workshop Supply List

Dave Santillanes Plein Air Workshop
Plein Air Supply List


Below is a recommended palette for Oil and Acrylic painters. At the very least you’ll want to include a large tube of each of the primary colors plus White. Any professional-grade will do!


Titanium White (large tube)

Yellow Ochre


Ultramarine Blue*

Cadmium Orange

Cobalt Blue #

Alizarin Crimson*

Cadmium Red

Transparent Red Oxide (Rembrandt)

Cadmium Yellow Medium*

Cold Gray (Rembrandt) #



* primaries         # optional colors



Flats, Brights, or Filberts recommended for the majority of the work. Have a good range of sizes: 2,6,8,10,12 but make sure to include your BIG brushes (12+)!. A small round is also recommended. Bristle Brushes recommended for Canvas but softer synthetic brushes may be better for smoother panels. If in doubt use a mix of both.


Painting Support

  • Estimate using 2 supports per day (i.e. 4-day workshop = 8 supports)
  • Panels are recommended over stretched canvas for outdoor
  • The surface can be either canvas (or linen) panels –OR– primed/sealed or gessoed panels (MDF).**
  • Recommended sizes between 8×10 and


**I’ll be using eighth-inch MDF panels sized with Lineco Acid-Free glue and then primed/sealed with B-I-N from Zinsser


Palette Knife – (preferably with a long angled edge for mixing paint – sometimes called a painting knife or scraper)


Paper Towels and Small trash bags


Odorless Turpenoid or Gamsol and brush cleaning container (i.e. coffee can)


Lightweight Easel – I recommend a Field Easel or Pochade box (The Prolific, Strada, Open Box M, Guerrilla Painter, Soltek, etc.). A Julian French Easel (half-box) is a bit cumbersome but will also be acceptable. Most Field Easels also require a sturdy tripod (camera tripod with a large mounting plate). 

Drinking Water!



Trash bags

Neutral-Colored Clothing (bright colors reflect)

Sun Hat

Painters Umbrella

Dress in Layers


Hand Cleaner (Fast Orange)

Insect Repellant


Landscape photos/studio reference materials in case of inclement weather. Additional Items to Consider

Suggested Reading,

Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson