The Lumley Workshop
on Learning Color

My workshop is about color — capturing vibrant color in your paintings. Color is as important in art as drawing. In a landscape we not only distinguish a person or object in a garden by its shape but also by differences in color. Today a more discriminating audience insists on accurate color values. They want to distinguish between a floral group painted outdoors and one painted in the studio. In landscape they wanted to tell if it is morning or afternoon, if it is sunny or gray or misty.

Some say “color sense” is an inherited gift; you either have it or you don’t. The truth is that a good sense of color is not a mysterious gift but something that can be learned. This workshop is dedicated to teaching you the use of color. Through a series of challenging studies you will capture different color relationships under varied conditions of light: morning and afternoon, sunny and gray.

Whether your ultimate interest is landscapes, still life, or portrait — in oil, pastel, or watercolor — this workshop will increase your ability to discern a greater variety of colors — allowing you to create paintings of unusual delicacy in power.

The method of instruction I learned, and eventually taught to beginning students, at the Cape School of Art under Henry Hensche, developed in each student a sense of color unequaled in any other teaching program. This training addressed a basic truth that light changes the way we see, that specific or “local” colors change in different light.

At the school we learn to mix pigments to best represent local colors as they were seen in a single condition of light and atmosphere. Each painting was guided by the quality of light that struck that scene.

Today the teaching continues. We will begin a five and one-half day workshop on capturing the true color of what we see. These principles of color are explained in more detail in the following brochure.

I hope you will be able to attend. If you are, I believe you too will become one of many artists who feel that this way of seeing and painting color adds a distinct vibrancy to a work. Those who view your work will be amazed at how spectacularly your color has improved. If you combine this tool with your own intelligence and perseverance you can truly become a great artist.

Our last workshop was a wonderful experience. This — in our tenth year — again promises to be equally fruitful and rewarding.

I’m looking forward to working with you. If you have seen one of my Saturday morning demonstrations you saw that I attempt to practice what I teach. But more important for you is what you will learn in the workshop about color, and the thrill you will receive as friends and galleries become impressed by your enhanced work.


My workshop will help bring color to your paintings — that is, I will show you how to capture color under different conditions of natural light. The principle will not be difficult to learn and will allow you to bring a vibrant sense of color to your choice of subject matter. Beginning painters will learn basic techniques for seeing and painting color, while experienced painters will enhance their color vision.

These principles are based on Impressionist color techniques discovered by Claude Monet, furthered by Paul Cezanne and William Merritt Chase, and taught by Charles Hawthorne and Henry Hensche.

I will emphasize the following:

  • How the color of objects changes under different conditions of light
  • How the basic principle of judging color relationships and light applies to still life, landscape and portraiture
  • Seeing and judging the relationship of one color in nature to another
  • Keeping shapes solid by defining a large areas made by the light
  • Deciding on the harmony of any particular effect of light
  • Using color to show roundness in objects and recession and foreground and background planes

The Learning Color workshop is five days. Class times are 9 to 5 each weekday. A lecture and demonstration begins the week, and the balance of the time spent in one-on-one instruction. Everyone works at their own pace; guidance on work-in-progress is between instructor and student. Demonstrations on landscape, portrait and still life are given throughout the week with a formal demonstration Friday morning (your family and guests are invited). I will have a very engaging slide show at some point during the week; the slides include many works by Henry Hensche and selected students.

DATE: One week – date to be announced

PRICE: $_________.

Location: The Lumley Studio at Lilacland, 24 Harkness Road (Pelham), Amherst, MA 01002.

PLEASE REGISTER EARLY – Print out Registration Form and send back with $100 deposit. Call 413-535-8610 for more information.

References (Springfield Art League and Deerfield Valley Art Association and other attendees) available upon request; also housing list of bed-and-breakfasts, guest houses and motels.

PRINCIPLES OF WORKSHOP A-  basic truths about painting is that light changes the way we see, especially how the ‘local’ or specific color of an object changes when seen in different conditions of light. Only one explicit color, then, can represent an object in a particular light. In other words, painting is describing how the colors with a scene — landscaped, portrait, still life — appear under constant and unchanging light. For example, we no longer paint a red vase or green grass in shades of red or green but show how those colors are changed by the particular light in which they are seen. When seen under full sun the red vase may take on a decidedly orangey hue; on an overcast, gray day, grass may become an earthy purple. Regardless then, of the local color, the color we use to represent it in a painting is controlled by the quality of light that strikes it.

Light, then, controls what pigment color we use. In paintings we must choose the colors that best express a scene as we see it in a single condition of light and atmosphere. This way of painting a scene in a single moment of light and atmosphere adds a distinct vibrancy to our work.

What you learn is not a style, but a language for learning the basics behind all good painting. It is a grammar to use to express freshness and meaning of your own world in all its radiant colors.


  • “I learned to capture the color I saw.”
    — DC, Beaufort, South Carolina.
  • “This method keeps teaching with every new painting.”
    — NV, Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • “Jim Lumley showed me how to paint out-of-doors without fear.”
    — PG, Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • “I’ve discovered more about direct painting that helps me work alone.”
    — LT, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • “The excitement of capturing the morning and afternoon light has opened my eyes to a new way of seeing.”
    — GS, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • “What I learned strengthen the power of my finished work.”
    — DB, Beaufort, South Carolina
  • “I’ve attended many workshops by others and only in this one have I learned real painting.”
    — MG, Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • “I was ready to give up until challenged by this new way of seeing and painting.”
    — PB, Springfield, Massachusetts.

INSTRUCTOR’S STATEMENT: My own work, as well as the principles I teach in my workshop is inspired by the Impressionists, especially Claude Monet’s studies of light and color. In his ‘series’ paintings Monet showed us the beauty of an early morning dawn, the warmth of an evening sunset, the somber relationship of fields and woods on a stormy day. He shocked us into see the variety of color in nature. We no longer admire a landscape painted in a narrow range of color; we know colors are changed by the light striking a scene.

I follow this tradition. As a painter I try to capture the beauty of the natural world by using color to show how the light falls on a scene at a specific time of day and under specific weather conditions. Varying kinds of light, then, change the color of what I see.

All my paintings are made from direct observation. Like Monet, I feel the best representation of nature can be gained only by standing in front of nature. Only under a condition of natural light can I truly see the beauty of a scene.

At the heart of this workshop is the idea that you’re not really painting objects, but the light falling on those objects. What you’ll learn in this workshop is how to see and use color to paint this effect of light. I will show you how color reveals the overall character of the particular light – full sunlight, light on a gray day, north light in a studio, among many conditions — falling on your scene. You will begin by judging the relationships of the large areas of color as they come against each other. Through exercises you will refine your ability to see and paint these differences.

The technique of using color applies to any medium — watercolor, acrylic, pastel or oil — for the workshop we will use oil paint as we can change color quickly. For any medium the workshop will bring a new understanding of capturing the true colors of what you see. This approach to painting benefits the beginner as well as the advanced painter. Everyone will add to his her understanding of how to use color in a superior way.

The Lumley Workshop on Learning Color

The Workshop takes place in the studio/gallery building and lilac gardens at Lilacland located at:

The Lumley Studio at Lilacland
24 Harkness Road
Amherst, MA 01002

Other workshops to be scheduled, please inquire.

Also available:

Individual Instruction: $_____ per 2-hour session, or $_____ per 2-hour session weekly/paid monthly. Group rates available.

No fee for painting on grounds at Lilactime……..

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