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Plein air workshop on North Fork

Max Moran assists a painter during last year's

Max Moran assists a painter during last year's workshop. (Photo courtesy of Moran)

Long Island art enthusiasts will have the chance to learn painting from an expert this summer at Max Moran’s plein air workshops.

Moran says plein air, a style of painting that originated in France during the 1870s, involves “painting right on location, in the open. Not painting in a studio – painting the clouds as they drift on by. It’s just a quick term to designate one who paints from life.”

Moran encountered the style after moving to the East Coast, where he discovered painting historical sights generated more income than abstract expressionism.

Despite spending a life in art, Moran's first teaching experience was last year's inaugural plein air workshop.

He likens the experience to a figure-drawing class he took in art school, where a model came in wearing a robe, and he thought, “Today we’ll be painting a woman in a robe.” Then she dropped the robe, and after about five minutes of awkwardness the process was simply marks and lines again.

Teaching presented the same initial discomfort to Moran, but after a short time he relaxed into the process of painting.

“Sometimes I’m able to help them see things and jump over those hurdles where there’s plenty more ahead of them . . . and get them back up and help them put together a successful composition,” Moran says.

He adds that he tries to keep the number of people in the workshops under 15 in order to give each painter the necessary attention.

“The class lends itself to support because sometimes that brush can be the heaviest thing to pick up,” Moran says.

The first two workshops, July 30 and Aug. 1, will be at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport, a site Moran compares to something out of a 19th century Italian novel. After 2½ hours of painting, participants sit down for a lunch prepared by chef Keith Luce, the White House’s sous chef during the first Clinton administration.

At the Sept. 17 and 19 events, which will take place at A Lure in Southold, the painters will be served a seafood picnic. Each workshop will cost $125, and Moran can be contacted at or 631-591-2447.

Says Moran, “If all the elements come together, magic happens.”

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