See the world in a whole new way,
like a plein air painter!

Join us for this beginner session, a hands-on class that sets you up for everything else you will learn during the Plein Air Convention & Expo. Miss this class and you’ll miss the fundamental skills you’ll need to succeed at this unique art form. This session is not a lecture; it is highly interactive and filled with unique exercises. You’ll come away with tons of inspiration and a wealth of new skills and techniques.  

The Basics Course staff is committed to the plein air experience and will introduce novices to this wonderful form of expression, taking each participant to new heights.  Basic instruction in all mediums will enable participants to take advantage of the magnificent outdoor painting possibilities in the Santa Fe area. Here is what to plan for and what to expect from this course:

PACE 2022 Basics Course

A pre-convention course offering “the basics”  to those who want to learn to paint outdoors!

Cost:  $197

Date: May 17th

Time: 8 am to 2:30 pm, lunch break 12 pm to 12:45 pm

What to bring: sketchbook, graphite, pen


Choosing the right scene,
learning to edit, and keeping it simple

Painting outdoors gives you so many options. It is sometimes difficult to decide what to paint or how to feature the subject you are passionate about. Learn the art of finding simple scenes, how to edit more complex scenes, and how to train your eye to look for certain visual cues to help you create three-dimensional paintings. We will practice these techniques by drawing sketches of the breathtaking New Mexico landscapes we will explore during the week.

Create useful thumbnail sketches

Thumbnail sketching actually speeds up the painting process as well as helping to explore design alternatives, teach simplification, and build confidence. Participants will create several actual sketches step by step along with the instructor and learn to compose the landscape/subject in terms of masses and shapes using a limited value scale. The goal is to learn how to design simple value compositions.

Learn to see the quality of light and shadow,
paint the feel of the landscape

Landscape painters are fascinated by the light and how it moves through a scene creating shadows, values, color, and atmosphere. Learning to see is a process of observation and the practice of tried and true plein air painting techniques. One of the many things we will share with you is the importance of using a limited color palette, making color mixing easier and naturally creating harmony in your paintings. Added bonus: You don’t have to worry about hauling so many tubes of paint in your pack!

Choosing your medium,
outdoor painting gear that’s right for you

Each medium requires a little different equipment, and each instructor will talk about their medium, how they work in the field, and what equipment works best for them. Participants will receive a “Gear Up Checklist” to use as a reminder of what to pack for a day of painting in the field. Instructors will display their favorite equipment and supplies and will be available to discuss helpful tips about their gear and their medium.

What to really expect
on your outdoor painting adventures

Painting outdoors can be a rugged experience if you choose to backpack to a secluded spot for your painting. To keep it a little easier, you can paint out of the back of your car or simply sit on your back porch and paint what you see. Instructors will be certain to share the “ins and outs” of painting outdoors and their personal stories. Rest assured, the challenges typically are outweighed by the feeling of being fully immersed in the beauty of nature!


At the daily paint-outs during the main convention, Basics mentors will be grouped together in a clearly marked area and available to assist Basics attendees, allowing you to put your newly learned skills to the test under their watchful eyes.
You will receive daily text messages regarding the meeting area where there will be a “Basics” banner displayed. We look forward to offering our guidance in the field!