May 17-20, 2017 (Lindale, TX)
Cityscape Composition & Painting Workshop


Maureen Killaby School, Lindale TEXAS

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Limited to 13 students.


We will work together on cityscape composition, brush painting, and knife painting.

ALL SKILL LEVELS. I adjust my advice for each person’s level. More advanced students will find it easier to focus on the subtleties of composition. A drawing background is recommended.

Wednesday morning:

Composition! I will demonstrate to the group how I create a cityscape composition from photo reference using photoshop and will work individually with each student to choose their reference and create their own dramatic composition. The goal will be to create compositions with a powerful sense of focus. This is an important stage and we will give it some thought. I also encourage students to listen to the composition problems faced by fellow students--it is a great way to learn and process. If you are finished earlier than others with your composition, you can begin setting out your paints.

The rest of Wednesday:

After everyone has a composition or at least a good start on one, I will begin a demonstration of my painting method and answer questions while I paint. The more questions the better. At some point I’ll stop and everyone will begin on their own paintings and I will circulate to help each person.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday:

You will paint and I will circulate. I will periodically come back to my demo. When I finish the demo, I might begin another one. However, priority is given to your work time so that I can give you practical advice. You may choose to create new compositions if you like, or you may dig in and get to a more finished stage on your first one. I love talking about composition and technique equally.

Note: Try not to be overly concerned with producing sellable work during the workshop as it will hinder learning. If you end up with something great, that is a bonus, but I don’t want students to feel rushed or obsessed with production. I am mostly concerned with communicating some key concepts in a way that really sinks in. I want this knowledge to be useful for you later on. We will work hard and enjoy the process together.


-Laptop with Photoshop.

This is not strictly necessary--you can come to the same result with just imagination and trial-and-error. However, it is a great tool and I will be teaching you how to exploit this technology. If you’re a luddite and prefer to just bring large (at least 8x10, or even bigger to allow for more cropping) physical color prints of your photo reference, you can do that. If so, you’ll be doing your “photoshop” stages mentally and with note taking...bring extra bw photocopies to scribble your notes on.

TIME-SAVING NOTE: If you plan on learning how I use Photoshop, please have it fully installed before the beginning of the workshop. If you plan on using alternate image editing software (such as Elements, Gimp, etc) please be familiar with its commands, as I will be teaching Photoshop-specific commands.  Photoshop CC offers a free trial. I currently pay 9.99 per month for the cheapest plan. It is well worth it. 

-Your own digital photo reference.

Bring several reference options to choose from, day or night or both. MORE IS BETTER. Make sure photos are high res and with good exposure. Multiple shots of the each scene can be very helpful. It gives you more flexibility for mixing and matching details (cars, people, light exposure) as needed. Don’t use daytime shots that are too washed out or nighttime shots that are too dark.

When taking photos: zoom OUT, get the wide view. Give lots of breathing room and empty space in the photo. You can always zoom in and crop later. Let the interesting element be only a small portion in the frame. MORE IS BETTER. Out of a few hundred photos you might only end up being inspired by a handful. That's how it always goes.

-Holbein MX no 1 painting knife or Holbein 1066S-303 painting knife. Both are excellent...303 is a little smaller and more delicate.

If you have no intention of knife painting, you can stick with brushes. But I will be teaching both. I love both.

-Filbert Natural Bristle Brushes, a variety of sizes.

Good brands are Robert Simmons Signet filbert, Trekell Hog bristle filbert, Jack Richeson Signature. When painting with brushes I use the whole range, but my workhorse is usually size 4. To make things simple, you can just get some even numbers: 2,4,6,8....

-Solvent: Gamsol.

-Medium: Gamblin Neo-Megilp

-Paint list:

Be sure to avoid student grade brands (like winton etc): the oily handling properties and weak pigmentation will hinder your progress. I like Winsor Newton Artist's Oils and there are plenty of decent brands in that price range. If you'd like to experiment with a fast drying paint, I really enjoy W&N Griffin Alkyds.

ivory black

phthalo blue

ultramarine blue

alizarin crimson

cadmium red

cadmium orange (Winsor Newton Artist’s Oils preferred)

burnt umber

raw umber

yellow ochre

cadmium yellow (Winsor Newton Artist’s Oils preferred)

cadmium lemon

a quality white (I mostly use titanium)

-A variety of toned panels to paint on. Some different sizes: 9x12, 11x14, 12x12, bigger if you like, square if you want. It is nice to have a choice while composing.

My favorite is Ampersand Gessobord or Jack Richeson Premium Gessoed Hardboard. Raymar or Trekell linen panels are also fantastic. No Mona Lisa/Speedball panels, they are far too slick. Tone the panels in advance of the workshop to make sure they are totally dry. Can't go wrong with an umber color. Often I like to prep a few in different tones and then make a game-time decision.

-Paper towels. I like Viva or those blue shop towels, both are thick and cloth-like.

-Your other basics...palette, container for gamsol, gloves, whatever else you need. PLEASE CONTACT VENUE WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT EASELS, ETC.


Maureen Killaby

(903) 830-6694