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Mitchell Albala

"All my positive ratings don't come near to doing this instructor justice. Mitch is a great communicator, a conscientious instructor and a thoughtful critiquer. He is generous and shares his knowledge graciously. He is worth his weight in gold."
— Joyce Prigot, student

Mitchell Albala is the author of Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice (Watson-Guptill, 2009). He has been a teaching artist for more than 25 years and has been at Gage Academy for 16. He has also lectured on Impressionism and landscape painting at the Seattle Art Museum and written for International Artist, Artists & Illustrators (UK), and American Artist magazines. He hosts an educational BLOG, and is represented by Lisa Harris Gallery in Seattle.

Teaching Philosophy
My classes are exceedingly practical, offering students specific methodologies and approaches for the topic, as opposed to philosophical perspectives. This allows students to quickly make sense out of the particular challenges covered in that class. In my landscape classes, I argue that nature poses its own unique set of challenges that require a unique approach, which I often refer to as the “Essential Concepts of Landscape Painting.” Landscape classes focus a great deal on simplification and translation (“less is more”), composition, color and the inherent abstraction within nature. In my introductory drawing and painting classes, I stress a foundational set of ideas that can be applied beyond the end of class (as in all Gage classes). I also I stress observation rather than imitation and encourage students to find their own style, even as beginners. Although our work is difficult, I believe learning should be fun, so my teaching style tends to be playful and informal. Class time is also structured so that students receive many, many visits per class and lots of personalized attention.

For more about Mitchell Albala, please visit his web site,
Artist's Statement
I have always been fascinated by the abstract or secondary image that emerges when I look beneath the surface of a subject. Whether that is achieved through composition, design or color, I consider a painting successful when viewers are struck by a powerful visual aesthetic before they recognize the literal subject. The landscape — with its endless variety of color and the great demand it places on simplification — serves as an ideal vehicle for me to explore these interests. I often playfully refer to myself an “Abstract Impressionist.”

Since earning my art degree, my paintings have increasingly explored simplified forms, atmosphere and richly textured surfaces. I recognize my own technique, color and abstract sensibilities in the Impressionists, especially Monet, as well as Edouard Vuillard, American impressionist John Twactman, Turner and Rothko. I say that I "recognize" the attitudes of these artists rather than “have been influenced by,” because I believe that the artists we admire are really reflecting some part of our own inner vision that we have yet to fully realize.

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