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New! Individual Personalized Plans
One-on-One Art & Creativity Coaching
Kickstart your creativity, focus and refine your artistic output, and create a meaningful personal artistic practice through weekly online coaching sessions.
Students receive weekly 45-minute one-on-one mentoring sessions via videoconferencing for a blanket fee of $120 a month. The dialogue is entirely about your creative work, and each session builds from the last as we identify and bolster core strengths, work towards goals, and address any challenges or mind-blocks getting in the way of making your best work.
Individual mentoring is for artists looking to shape their creative practice, to develop a personal style, create a distinctive and coherent body of work, and/or establish or grow a professional art business. A supportive check-in deadline each week can really keep you on task and at the easel.
This kind of support is what most group classes and workshops cannot offer. Workshops comprise a diverse group of talents and experience, so teachers usually end up by necessity teaching some form of technique. Obviously, technique is important, but after a while one understands it’s only half the game.
We won’t just paint. We’ll look at your past and current work and identify pathways for new departures and exciting possibilities for growth through dialogue, creative exercises, critiques, and customized “homework” assignments for what you’re working towards.
I’ll help you charge ahead, ask new questions, and to objectively judge your finished work by entirely new criteria, such as honesty, content, and personal technique.
There are a limited number of spots available, so if you’re interested, send me an email and we’ll chat about your goals and getting you started.
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Past Students Speak:
“There isn’t enough language to express how much this workshop has affected my art technically and imaginatively…. you have opened up an entirely novel approach for me through your plein air excursions and demos. I will be taking your class next year and thereafter.”
– Anne Garton, “Beyond Plein Air” class & workshop, Truro MA
“I’ve sold every single painting I did that week.”
– Bill Reedy, White Mountains workshop (AMC Crawford Notch)
“I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to come and study with you, but you really exceeded my expectations. As we mentioned, it’s one thing to be a good artist, it’s another to be a good teacher and you are certainly both.”
– Joyce Weinstein, private lesson, Lowell studio
“Thank you for opening our eyes to a new (for us) way of seeing things. This was just the spark I needed to change direction in how I put paint on canvas!”
– Bill Edwards, Art of Seeing workshop, Ogunquit, ME
“I’ve sold almost every one of the paintings I did in your class. One of them was the first one I sold at my next show.”
– Paula Furlong, Contemporary Oil Painting masterclass, Hollis, NH
To reserve a spot or if you have questions, email me at CHRIS(AT)CHRISTOPHERVOLPE.COM or call (603) 770-3058.
Wednesday Evening Studio Classes
(ON HOLD as of April 2020 due to Covid 19)
Exeter, NH ~ Every Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. $40/class
Lowell, MA – new Weekly class in the works email me with interest
Contact me to be added to the studio class “signup genius” email invitation list.
A more educational paint-along (paint and sip – someone usually brings wine to share) perhaps best describes how this class operates as we explore contemporary landscape painting in oils. Students leave every class with a finished work.
Generally there’s a demo and individual attention at the easel. Often we begin by talking about how a particular contemporary or historical painter has responded to the visible world and what we can take from them.
If you’d like to come, there are no requirements except an open mind and the basic gear (there’s a materials list at the bottom of this page). Add yourself to the “signup genius” – online here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Book yourself into four classes for $130 (save $30)
Shoot me an email if you’d like me to add you to the roster
– or add yourself by going here.
Plein Air in the White Mountains
3 Day Plein air, Team-taught Workshop
Todd Bonita, Alastair Dacey and Chris Volpe
September 18 -20, 2020 AMC Highland Center Lodge, Crawford Notch, Bretton Woods, NH
All inclusive package: Workshop, Lodging and meals, $425. AMC Members / $463 Non-members
Contact Nancy at the AMC to register (603) 466 – 2727
Todd Bonita, Alastair Dacey and Chris Volpe will be conducting this team taught workshop in the capacity of official “Artist Posse in Residence,” teaching and painting in a contemporary update of the 19th century tradition at this historic locale. We’ll stay and paint en plein air at the Highland Center, an amazing AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) lodge. We will be reviving the rich tradition of White Mountain artists in residence, in which artists spent the season at the region’s grand hotels, painting and teaching painting to 19th century nature lovers and spiritual seekers. We’ll paint daily from life in the footsteps of Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, John Frederick Kensett, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Chauncey Ryder, and Frank Henry Shapleigh, whose original Crawford House artist-in-residence studio still stands on this AMC site.
We’ll explore a variety of academic and expressive approaches to capturing our sensations of the natural American landscape. This is a package workshop with meals and lodging included in the overall price. The meal plan has reasonable rates and an excellent chef.
Workshop fee includes instruction, lectures, exercises, and optional critiques. Sign up directly through the AMC at 603.466.2727. Space is limited to 12.
Private instruction, either in your home or at my Lowell studio, is available. The standard rate is $100 per three-hour session. In these sessions (evening or daytime) I work individually with a painter of any experience level, total beginner to working artist, and develop a series of classes tailored to the individual student’s needs and goals.
Please contact me (chris(at)christophervolpe.com) if you’re interested in taking a class!
Materials & Equipment
- Bring at least one medium-sized (8×10 to 12×16) panel or canvas for each studio or plain-air session.
- Have a few itty bitty (5×7 or 6×8) panels or something handy for possible warm-ups and color sketches.
I use cheap paint, cheap brushes, cheap canvas and canvas panels for plein air work and either “gallery wrapped” canvas or linen for larger paintings in the studio. I’ve been known to make my own linen panels by mounting Claussen’s #13 triple oil-primed Belgian linen to birch or maple plywood panels that I cut to size.
Brushes & Knives
- I primarily paint with a large chip brushes (cheap, disposable hardware store bristle brushes), filberts, and a painting knife, but I admit to keeping several brushes on hand for special uses. When doing large work, I block in using house paint brushes. Bring your favorite brushes AND something large (#10) maybe a large filbert or a flat, either synthetic or bristle, AND something even larger, like a 2-3″ chip or house painting brush. Just make sure your bristles are stiff, not soft.
- You need a palette knife for mixing paint. I often use a combination of brush and knife in my work. Most of my students end up getting a palette knife like the one I use, with a long, rectangular blade that’s squared off at the end, as shown below. I often paint with my knife as well as mix with it, so if you’re interested in trying out my style, you’ll want to get this kind of knife. It’s style #81 at dickblick.com
My basic palette:
- Titanium White (*large tube*)
- Permanent Alizarin Crimson (red)
- Cadmium Yellow Light (for occasional use SPARINGLY!)
- Ultramarine Blue
- Burnt Umber (though we often make our own browns)
- Yellow Ochre
- Optional / Occasional:
- Burnt Sienna (or Transparent Iron Oxide Red)
- Prussian (or Phthalo) Blue
- Viridian (or Phthalo Green)
Additional colors occasionally added in, not essential but nice to have in your kit: Caput Mortuum (Old Holland, aka Mars Violet), King’s Blue (Old Holland, a wonderful blue perfect for skies and creating cool grays and on that note, “violet gray” by Old Holland rocks), Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Red, Lemon Yellow (or Cad Yellow Light), Gold Ochre, Phthalo Green, and Ivory Black. Zinc white which is semi-transparent to Titanium’s opaque, can be used to great advantage in layering and scumbling to create atmospheric effects, but Titanium’s my daily go-to white.
I paint mostly directly and in layers wet on wet, and often use no medium at all, so if you’re a beginner don’t worry about it. As you figure out what kind of painter you are, you’ll discover the uses of mediums to create different effects in different kinds of work. I do enjoy using straight “stand” (thickened) linseed oil or pure linseed oil; the former thickens the paint while improving flow and adding gloss. My true favorite medium (aka “honey”) is a mixture of about 70% Stand Oil and 30% Linseed Oil, sometimes with a little Turp/Odorless Mineral Spirits, which I also use for cleanup.
If you need your painting to dry quickly (oils without medium take 3-5 days to dry to the touch), you can use Winsor & Newton’s “Liquin” or Gamblin’s “Galkyd,” a drying medium that speeds up the drying time and also imparts a mild gloss to the finished painting.
As of October 2019, I have recently discovered an old school medium that I have been loving – Three-parts stand oil, one-part regular artist’s linseed oil, and several DROPS of Cobalt Dryer. This medium:
- dries your painting to the touch overnight
- imparts a gloss
- makes your colors glow
- doesn’t thin out the paint like other driers
- Palette – a surface (I use and recommend a wooden palette) for mixing your oil colors
- Paper Towels/Rags (Trust me, get the blue “shop towels” at a hardware store. They’re more absorbent, more durable, and often cheaper too).
- Cleaning Solvent: I use Mona Lisa Odorless Mineral Spirits in the studio and pure, artist-grade turpentine when I’m working outside. If you want a completely solvent-free system, try plant-based oils (walnut oil, linseed or cooking-grade safflower oil) for cleaning brushes.
- Palette knife, for mixing and applying paint (I often paint with a square-tipped palette or “painting knife” like this)(and see above). I like the flexibility of the one made by Loew-Cornell and the one with the blue rubber handle sold by Blick online.
- Wooden folding French easel (search online for “French easel”). I use a half pochade with backpack straps. You can also use a paintbox mounted on a tripod, such as the Guerrilla Painter or OpenBox M boxes. I also have two student-grade easels and two plein air pochades available for student use.
- B pencil or charcoal and sketchbook (very optional – I don’t usually use them but they can be nice to have handy).
- Old clothes! Oils can be messy, and if you paint like I do, you WILL end up with paint on your clothes and on you!
Essential Gear for Outdoor Painting
- Hat with brim
- Comfortable hiking shoes or sneakers
- Layered Clothing
- Bug repellant
- Water Bottle
- Something to carry home wet paintings in (pizza boxes work well but you can also buy “wet paint carriers” that are nice)
- Small White Umbrella (these are awesome for keeping out of direct sun, but they can be cumbersome and I confess I don’t use one, though I probably should)
I have an academic background as a writer and art history instructor, and I write about art for websites, scholarly journals, exhibition catalogues, and print magazines like Art New England and American Art Review. In addition, I enjoy giving public lectures and presentations on the history of art. Lecturing and teaching helps me make my background in art history, aesthetics, and literature converge with life – it feels like I’m putting art history and ideas into practice.
Here you can download free PDF versions of some of the slide shows I use in my presentations to art associations, libraries, historical societies, students and schools.