plein air painting workshops with Michael Chesley Johnson in Sedona Arizona

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Plein Air Painting Workshops & Retreats in the American Southwest

Now Offering TWO DIFFERENT Programs!

1. Private Painting Intensive Study at Michael's Studio in New Mexico

2. All-Level Group Plein Air Painting Workshops in Sedona, Arizona

Questions? E-mail Michael at
or call (575) 267-2450 or (505) 303-0702 (no text messages please to either number)

1. Private Painting Intensive Study at Michael's Studio in New Mexico

Are you looking for an intense, one-on-one, learning experience? Then this program is for you! You'll have exclusive access to Michael as you join him in beautiful northern New Mexico where you will paint the high desert. In addition to guided trips to his favorite painting locations, you'll work side-by-side with him in his private studio, taking your art to the next level in this custom workshop. What's more, all your needs will be taken care of with private bed and bath and three meals a day plus consultation for three months after the program. (Tuition-only option is available.) Workshops don't get any better than this!

For only $1400, you get five days with Michael plus six nights' lodging and all meals. Plus, you'll be in a quiet home near some of the best plein air painting spots that include lakes, mountains and more. And if you get tired of painting, you can visit historic Zuni Pueblo, hike up El Morro National Monument and Inscription Rock, wander the lava field trails of El Malpais National Monument or visit the Bandera Ice Caves. On your drive from the Albuquerque airport (only a little over two hours away), you can also visit Santa Fe galleries, the mesa-top Sky City at Acoma Pueblo and other tourist stops.

Here are photos of the lodging, studio and grounds, plus some images of local scenery.

Ready to sign up? Here's what you need to do:

  1. Look at the schedule (scroll down) and find a week that works for you
  2. Send Michael three images of recent paintings (plein air or studio) plus a short bio and an essay on what you would like to accomplish in the workshop plus a $700 deposit (checks only)
  3. Michael will consult with you, either by phone or e-mail, to help customize an action plan for the week.

Here are some important details about the "Private Intensive Workshop" in the Paint the Southwest program.

Who This Program is For

Experienced painters. (Beginners are encouraged to take one of Michael's regular, all-level workshops.) You will need to be comfortable both with your medium of choice and your outdoor gear. Oil or pastel painters only.

What This Program Includes

  • Initial consultation via e-mail or phone to create a custom program
  • Five days plus six nights' lodging (private bed and bath) and three (simple but nourishing) meals a day (bag lunch can be provided if having a field day)
  • Three months of consultation (critiques or advice for advancement) after program completion via e-mail or phone

What Each Day is Like

  • Each day will consist generally of a half-day working with Michael one-on-one plus appropriate assignments on your own for the rest of the day (you would have access to Michael during the non-program time for consultation); depending on the situation, some days may be full days as field trips to more distant locations
  • Studio access
  • Painting locations will be in the Ramah/Zuni Mountain area with field trips further afield

Workshop Options

  • All plein air painting
  • Outdoor study to studio (especially suitable for colder months)


Price: $1400 (50% deposit with balance paid 30 days in advance) (Tuition-only option, $800, same terms)
**Deposit is non-refundable unless a suitable person can be found to take your place.**

More Information

  • You will need to either drive or rent a car from the airport (ABQ is 2 hours); or take the train to Gallup, where we could pick you up for an additional fee
  • Because this is an intense, one-on-one experience, it may not be suitable to bring spouses or significant others. Please use your judgement.
  • Quiet environment (headphones only for music, cell phone conversations outdoors only)
  • Non-smoking, no pets
  • Travel Insurance is recommended
  • Deposit is non-refundable unless your reserved place can be filled by another student. View cancellation policy here.

Things to Visit/Paint on the Way

On the way to/from the Albuquerque Sunport, you may choose to make side trips to:

Private Painting Intensive Study - Winter 2018

February 19-23, 2018 - OPEN

February 26-March 2, 2018 - OPEN

March 5-9, 2018 - OPEN

March 12-16, 2018 - OPEN

March 19-23, 2018 - OPEN

March 26-30, 2018 - OPEN

April 2-6, 2018 - OPEN

April 9-13, 2018 - OPEN

Michael will be adding weeks for Fall 2018 (October and November) as well


2. All-Level Group Plein Air Painting Workshops in Sedona, Arizona

NOTE! Schedule subject to change unti first student signs up!

All-Level Group Workshops
November 14-17, 2017 Still spots available! Regular Paint Sedona Workshop
November 18, 2017 Demonstration for Tucson Pastel Society  
March 27-30, 2018   Regular Paint Sedona Workshop
November 13-17, 2018   Regular Paint Sedona Workshop
April 2-5, 2019   Regular Paint Sedona Workshop

Other Dates May be Available - Inquire!

Are you new to plein air painting? If so, I strongly encourage you to take my online plein air painting course. It's only $20
and includes a downloadable text and several helpful videos for you to watch!

Sign Up back to schedule

Cost of the four-day (Tue-Fri), half-day workshop is $300.
$150 deposit is required to hold your space
. Deposit is non-refundable unless your reserved place can be filled by another student. View cancellation policy here.
Balance is due 30 days in advance of your workshop, check only, please.
If you are interested in the "package" ($600 for tuition plus 5 nights of lodging at Gandolfo studios), just pay the $150 tuition deposit below.
Let Michael know you want the lodging package, and he will give you the contact information for the studio lodging owner . **NOTE: Lodging arrangements, both registration and cancellation, are ultimately the responsibility of the student.**
Travel insurance is recommended.

  • Pick your week from the list
    Send Michael an e-mail to make sure your week (or weekend) is still available
  • We prefer payment of your deposit by personal check. Your $150 check can be made out to "Michael Johnson." When you ask Michael if space is available, he can give you the current mailing address. However, we do offer Paypal as an option as below.Send a $150 deposit to reserve your space. Deposits can be made below via credit card or PayPal.

If you can't pay by personal check, click the button below to pay your deposit via PayPal or with a credit card. (Vendor will appear as "FBS Gallery" and with the extended name of "Friars Bay Gallery.") Important: Let us know what week you would like!

To register and send your US$150 deposit via PayPal:

Enter Week Requested:
Enter your phone number:

Deposit is non-refundable unless your reserved space can be filled by another student.

Studio Location: Gandolfo Studio, 220 Goodrow Lane, Sedona, Arizona 86336