There were initially 15 students that left the academy to take my classes, including my monitor/assistant at the academy, Keven Furiya. Keven worked for and with me for a few years, and then the position was passed on to Jan Burke. Jan was followed by Mary Larson, who was then followed by Ako Lindley. During the winter months I offered classes in my studio at the Shoe Building, in Pioneer Square, and then at Ako Lindley's studio at 619 Western.
Although I initially had a mailing list and sent regular flyers advertising the class, most of my enrollment has come by word of mouth.
During these early years our plein air locations were Seattle-centric, and included Washington Park Arboretum, the banks of the Green River, Old Ballard, Fishermen's Terminal, Discovery Park, Pioneer Square, and over a period of several years Bob Pepper's farm near Carnation WA. After moving to Snohomish in 2005, the classes continued, were expanded into a continuous workshop, and encompassed a much broader range of locations, e.g. the Snohomish Valley, the Park at Bothell Landing, the Pilchuck River, Larson Lake in Bellevue, Richland Beach, Edmonds Marsh, Olallie State Park and many others.
Around 2004, when I was still living in Pioneer Square, my plein air classes and my art were the subject of a documentary and interview for the Artists Express series at SCCtv cable channel. It was produced and directed by Scott Morrison, with the Q & A conducted by Billy King. There is some interesting archival footage of my class at Washington Park in that video, but I'm not sure if it is currently available for viewing. Throughout the duration of these workshops photo documentation has been spotty. Most were more interested in using their cameras for reference photos. However, there have been a few photos during various periods, primarily in recent years, and I've included some samples here.
In 2006, Ako Lindley left the program, and I didn't have an assistant for most of the time from then until the present, with the exception that Julie Stonebraker Nelson worked as my studio and workshop assistant during the 2021-2022 period. Most of that time, and to this day, classes have been organized via a private, password protected website only accessible to participants.
At the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic, during a period when painting in groups was not possible, I began a zoom based group critique program. This quickly evolved into a critique + special topic, where after reviewing the submitted work I would discuss aspects of art history, technique, methods and materials, and do an occasional live studio demo. These online critiques and the plein air workshop, reintroduced in 2021, continue to this day.
Over the course of these classes and workshops there have been a few hundred participants. Many have stayed for several years, or dipped in and out as life circumstances permit. There has been a handful of people that have continued to work with dedication and drive, and have become serious artists over the years. I'm reluctant to name names, because I don't want to take credit for their hard work and persistance, and because I don't want to discourage anyone that I might not name.
I guess this marks the Silver Anniversary of 25 years married to the plein air project. I have no regrets about doing it on my own, without any institutional support. I rather like the outlaw status. I look forward to the coming years of spending time in the moment, looking carefully at life and fashioning a language from paint, hopefully in the company of those that can benefit from the fruit of my experience.
In Memory of Ako Lindley (1934-2012)