Workshops, Classes & Mentoring

Please see below for a listing of classes and workshops offered. This page is updated as new classes and workshops are scheduled. Mentoring sessions are available at $85 per three-hour session. Sessions meet in my studio in Albuquerque, unless other arrangements are made. Please contact me at inquiries.

Student comments

Coming Up in 2019!

Plein Air on the Santa Cruz 2019

Tubac, Arizona

Oct. 28 - 31, 2019 Paintout period

Nov. 1 Reception and show (through Nov. 18) 

A T T E N T I O N: REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED - All positions have been taken.

The Tubac Center of the Arts and Rancho Santa Cruz  announce Plein Air on the Santa Cruz 2019, Tubac, Arizona's second plein air retreat and workshop, culminating in an exhibition and sale to take place at Tubac Center of the Arts. I am pleased to announce I will present the workshop, Principles for Successful Outdoor Painting Monday morning, followed in the afternoon by a paintout in a nearby location with continuing instruction. 

A variety of paint-outs and artists gatherings will continue through the week. Participants will attend a reception for their art Friday, Nov. 1  in the exclusive exhibition at Tubac Center of the Arts.  Awards will include First, Second and Third Prizes up to $500 cash value. The show will remain up for two weeks. I have also been asked to serve as  judge for the exhibition.

In 2018, half of the artists participating in the retreat sold artwork through TCA, and the RSC gallery. This year enrollment will be limited to 25, so apply early. Packages available with and without lodging at the ranch. Returning participants receive 10% off cost of lodging. 

A T T E N T I O N: REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED - All positions have been taken.

To apply, go to

Plein Air on the Santa Cruz 2019 Schedule and Fees:

Option 1: Stay at the Ranch:

Check in Sunday October 27 – check out Sat Nov 2

Attend workshop, 3-4 paint-outs, exclusive receptions and events

  • $950.00  Private room including breakfast 
  • $650.00  Shared room including breakfast 

25% deposit holds room - Balance due on arrival

**Returning artists receive 10% off lodging

Option 2: Retreat only, no lodging:

Check in Sunday Oct. 27

Attend 3-4 paint-outs, exclusive receptions and events

$250  Retreat Fee including workshop 

Special Reception Friday Nov. 1 for Plein Air on the Santa Cruz exhibit at Tubac Center of the Arts. Show continues through Nov. 20.

For questions about fees, contact Susan at 386 956-6110 or Virginia at 520 339-5220,

Rancho Santa Cruz:

This is a unique opportunity for artists to experience a taste of southern Arizona’s ranch life and an enriching artistic experience with fellow plein air artists from the region and beyond.


For more information, go to . The retreat starts Sunday, Oct. 27 (check-in). A variety of guest artist packages are available at the ranch. All packages include paint outs, workshops, welcome reception and the opportunity to show and sell work at the Tubac Center of the Arts.

Tubac is one of Arizona’s oldest towns, an 1800’s Spanish Presidio turned artist colony, just a 45-minute drive south of Tucson. Since 1963, The Tubac Center of the Arts has hosted highly acclaimed art shows and events throughout the year for local residents and visitors from all over the globe.

The historic Rancho Santa Cruz has recently re-opened for business and offers lodging and a gallery featuring local artists. Located in a large grove of magnificent cottonwood trees along the Santa Cruz River, the 100-year old property has been revived to its authentic western roots and is becoming a destination for artistic and cultural retreats.

Watch the video for the 2018 event:


Other Instruction topics Available (contact to schedule)

Clouds & Sky in the Landscape

This workshop or 8-week oil painting class will introduce students to the relationship between sky and ground and explore ways to impart luminosity in skies, strengthen compositions through effective placement of cloud shapes and enhance mood with creative use of color. Sessions will meet in the studio. Some observational time will be spent outside. It is advised that students who take this class have a grasp of art fundamentals.

Composing the Landscape

All successful art is derived from sound compositional choices. This workshop or 8-week studio class will familiarize students with the tools of composition necessary for conveying his or her expressive vision and intent for a given subject. Weekly sessions will explore value, color, shape, line, space, and direction as they apply to landscape oil painting. Students can expect individual attention based on their specific needs and skill level.

Refining the Landscape

This workshop or 8-week class focuses on the process of seeing and painting the landscape in ways that enable artists to convey their intent quickly and effectively. Studio sessions will include distilling the visual complexity of nature to a few compositional choices, use of limited color palettes and values, and the economy of brush strokes. The instructor will give attention to common challenges that face many plein air and studio painters such as, establishing and maintaining the intent for a painting from start to finish; properly assessing greens in the landscape and interpreting them with pigment; and rendering skies that are luminous and compositionally interesting.​

Painting the Landscape en Plein Air

This workshop or 8-week class is for artists who have experience painting outdoors and would like to hone their skills through more one-to-one time with the instructor. The first part of the course will be a review of approaches to oil painting en plein air. The majority of the sessions will meet outdoors, weather permitting.

Nocturne Painting In Oils

Paint the magic light, mood and mystery of twilight time, including the sunset, darkness of night and moonlit subjects. This workshop or 8-week class will challenge students to “see” and paint color and values of low light subjects. Most sessions will be in the studio, with outdoor painting an option, if the class is agreeable. There will be demonstrations by the instructor, and students will use photo references of their choosing. Experience painting with oils is required for this class. 


Is it required that students use only oil paints in your classes and workshops, or are other mediums allowed?

Occasionally other mediums are acceptable, but the use of oils is strongly recommended. My instruction focuses largely on general principles of composition and design, thus much of the instruction is useful regardless of of which medium is used.

Is art experience a prerequisite for taking your classes and workshops?

Having a foundation in drawing and composition will enable students to get the most from my instruction. My students generally have some experience, but there is a full range of experience and backgrounds. I try to help students according to each one's level of experience and skill.

Student Comments


Here is a sample of responses made anonymously by students when asked what was most helpful about Tom's classes and workshops?:

"Instructor is very kind. Honors each student. Takes time for personal attention."

“Clear concepts and objectives presented.”

“Thoughtful approach – really enjoyed the demos.”

“Tom knows how to break down the work into a step-by-step approach and proceed methodically. It was helpful to hear the basic concepts reinforced when looking at specific paintings.”

“Learning new techniques & actually seeing how to do them as well as doing it ourselves. Appreciated the handouts and actual discussion of painting.”

“The talks and info given was then translated into the paint exercise. New techniques for me were used that I will definitely put to use.”

“The class was excellent! I liked (having) a specific list of goals for each class; the critiques, as well as the homework.”

“The individual attention as I worked out a difficulty.” 

“The demos were brilliant.”

“I loved this class!”