Joshua CunninghamPainting The Day Retreat with Joshua Cunningham

August 22 - 24, 2021 Go back
a man with glasses and a beard

We do not see things as they are, but rather as light, shadow, and air reveal them. The light of each day is unique and specific to the time, place, and weather. In this two day retreat scheduled over a moonrise, we will examine how with some foundational principles of the prismatic palette, the grammar of light and air can ground us in our work by helping us see the gift of each day.

Terms & Conditions
  • Class description
  • Bio
  • Supply List
  • gallery

Class description

Explore painting outside and capture the beauty of summer in Bayfield on your canvas. This two-day retreat is an exploration of the joys of plein air painting, and may also include time inside the Wild Rice Retreat studio and the opportunity to paint the moonrise which is scheduled to occur on Sunday evening.

As Joshua states "For nearly 20 years, I have made painting the landscape the foundation of my practice as an artist. My paintings reflect my understanding and empathy for how the light and air describe and reveal the world around us.

In shifting our goal from being a great artist to understanding our subject – something special can spring forth from a genuine connection rather than our insecurity and ego. Through the principles of the prismatic palette (see materials list), we will anchor our intuition in understanding."


  • An understanding of how light and air reveal the world around us, and a way of expressing that in paint
  • A systematic approach to creating a painting on location
  • Empowered by a process by which they can continue to grow and develop their individual voice as an artist

Instructor demonstrations, personal assistance and group critiques will support painters of all levels guided by Joshua who is recognized as a knowledgeable, dedicated, and encouraging coach.


Joshua grew up the third of five boys, on 60 acres of woods, wetlands, and pastures in Isanti, Minnesota. His path to becoming a professional artist was as winding as the country roads and nameless creeks from his hometown. He now lives in St. Paul, with his wife Shannon, their children, Greta, William, and a sheepdog, Louie. He primarily paints the landscape on location and in the studio. Joshua is apart Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, and a member of the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota, Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, and has exhibited with The American Tonalist Society.

Contact: Website:

Supply List

  • Outdoor Painting Easels

There is no shortage of choices for outdoor painting easels like the classic French easel, a pochade box w/tripod, or Gloucester easel or any number of variations. Julian and Mabef make fine French Easels. I would avoid most others.

Painting is challenging enough without fighting with your easel.

I primarily use a Mabef French Easel or an Alla Prima Pochade box.
Before that I used my Guerilla Painter 9”x12” pochade box for years

Oil Paints

Williamsburg, Windsor Newton, Holbein, Gamblin, Old Holland

(there are many excellent paint companies, I have used the five brands above)
I use what is called a prismatic palette, which I learned from Joe Paquet

  • Flake White (Williamsburg) Silver White (Holbein Lead White) or Titanium White
  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Cadmium Red
  • Alizarin Crimson or Permanent Crimson
  • Manganese Blue Nova (Hue) (Holbein) or Manganese blue from Old Holland
  • Cobalt Blue
  • French Ultramarine Blue
  • Ivory Black
  • Phthalo Green

Old Holland: Raw Umber is used to prepare panels

  • Mix with white and a bit of Gamsol to a tone similar to, but lighter than a paper grocery bag and apply as a wash thinly and evenly over canvas/linen panels 4-5 days before painting

Painting Mediums / Solvents


  • Safflower Oil, Poppy Oil, Refined Linseed Oil, Walnut Oil, or Cold Pressed Linseed Oil
  • Gamsol (solvent)
  • I begin with just Gamsol, I slowly increase the ratio of oil depending upon the viscosity of the surface 25/75% Oil to Gamsol mix going to a ‘fatter’ 50/50% split of Gamsol in later stages of the painting. Either Safflower Oil, Poppy Oil, Walnut Oil, or Linseed Oil.


  • Long Bristle Flats (2 of each) #2,#4,#6,#8,#10,#12 (If your budget is limited – sizes 2,4, 6, and 8)
  • Richeson Grey Matter
  • Robert Simmons - Signet
  • Raphael - Series #359
  • Rosemary & Company SERIES 279. MASTERS CHOICE LONG FLATS

(I would not recommend these as a total replacement for the bristle brushes)
Smaller rounds and rigger brushes can be nice for some finer things, but a corner edge of a flat will work.

Panels / Canvas
Recommended Sizes in inches: 2 of the smaller and 2 of the larger

  • (at least 2) of 6x8, 8x10 , and at least (2) of 9x12 , 11x14 , 12x16
  • For smaller panels – I like a less bumpy linen or canvas.
  • Tara Fredrix Archival Canvas Board or Linen Board
  • Artefex, New Traditions Panels, Raymar Panels - Claessens Belgian Linen 12, 13 or 15 (larger sizes)
  • Lakeside Studios in Wisconsin also makes excellent panels

Additional Items

  • Umbrella
    EASyL, (this is not the only solution, but it is my favorite)
  • Julian and Guerilla Painter offer some.
  • Palette

French easels and Pochades usually have one. Do not buy a tradition round one that you will hold. It is an additional thing to carry and holding a palette all day will inevitably lead to pain.

  • Palette Cup(s)

avoid ones that narrow at the top – they can be tough for larger brushes

  • Palette Knife

For the purposes of this workshop we will primarily use them for scrapping down the palette & paintings more than mark making or mixing.

  • Sketchbook/Notebook

I would recommend one around 6x8 or 5x9 with the binding on the short for ‘landscape’ orientation. Spiral can be nice on location because the pages fold back, but they can get wonky in the backpack.

  • Brush washer
  • I recommend one by Holbein
  • You get what you pay for and leaky brush washers are no fun.
    Brush Soap
  • Jack’s Linseed Studio soap
  • Winsor & Newton – Brush Cleaner & Restorer (for the procrastinators) – be very careful with it
  • Mirror
    A plastic black mirror is good – but your smart phone can act like one.
  • It is nice to freshen your eye by reversing your subject and your painting.
    Paper Towels

We use them for all sorts of things, so get good ones – I like Viva. They will be your paint eraser, your brush shaper, palette polisher, and your stain remover…

  • Trash Bag
  • The plastic bags from grocery and convenience stores like Target work well
  • ArtWorks Essentials offer a foldable reusable garbage receptacle
    Backpack/Messenger Bag

Nothing too big, or else you will fill it with needless “just in case” items

  • Recommended “just in case” Items
  • Bungee Cords, Duct Tape, a multi-tool like a Leatherman
    A hat
  • I should shade your eyes, because it can be hard to see value and color with sunglasses. If it also shades your neck and ears, all the better.
    Bugspray, Sunblock, lip balm
  • Look at the forecast and dress for the day’s weather…not just the high or the low. Remember you will be standing/sitting still.
    Water Bottle

Some kind of water refillable bottle that you can drink from is preferable.

Online Resourses – this list is neither exclusive or exhaustive