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Cindy Salaski, Founder & CEO of, is a plein air painter, writer, and photographer. She spent 5 days (Monday through Friday) in an Albert Handell Mentoring Program, and wrote this wonderful day-by-day review.

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To visit Albert Handell’s webpage on, click here.
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Monday, September 12, 2011

The first day of the workshop Albert created a pastel painting of two trees. His pastels include a mixture of NuPastel, Sennelier, Schminche and Unison. Two of his favorite working surfaces are Wallis Pastel Paper in either White or
Belgium Mist, and UArt Pastel Paper.

Mr. Handell explaining how he always moves from left to right,
and works from dark to light and cool to warm.

“One mark can make everything flow together beautifully,” Handell said.

Albert used four reference photos to create this pastel painting.

The Finished Painting

Upon close inspection we see the magic of Handell’s masterful strokes.

Plein air painting at the falls behind the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center.

Albert critiquing students’ paintings. Of the 18 students in attendance, 15 painted with pastels, and three painted using oil paint.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Albert Handell begins an oil painting demonstration at 9:30 AM. He likes to use Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna as he begins his initial sketch. He paints in his studio with oils and pastels, but prefers to use pastels outdoors. He adds that
it is very beneficial to paint in both mediums.

Albert using a brush as he follows contours with his strokes. When painting water he advised us to “respect the flow of the water”.

“When I pick up my palette knife,” he says, “I am no longer
at the beginning stages of the painting.”

At this moment it was so quiet in the classroom you could hear a pin drop.

A symphony in color to match any symphony in music
created by Beethoven, Bach or Mozart.

As Mr. Handell signs his oil painting, he explains how important the placement of the signature is.

“The Reigning King of Pastels”, Albert Handell is also one of the greatest living Master Oil Painters.

Handell’s students painting en plein air in the marshes
of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

A plein air painter enjoys using his Open Box M palette as he paints the light and shadow on a log in the marsh.

My oil painting in progress. You can see that I really need mentoring from a Master Painter like Mr. Handell. If you feel the same way about your work, check out one of Albert Handell’s Paint-A-Long Mentoring Program.

Mr. Handell delivers critiques to his eager students.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Albert Handell begins his pastel painting with an initial sketch.

The sketch is now ready for a watercolor underpainting.

Payne’s Gray and Burnt Sienna are two of Albert’s favorite colors to use in watercolor washes for underpaintings. He chose UArt Pastel Paper for this painting.

Handell creating the cloud shapes in the underpainting.

The finished underpainting is now ready for pastels to be applied.

“Taste it, sniff it out,” Albert said. “Is it a cooler green or a warmer green?”
With a flick of his wrist, a small jewel of color suddenly appeared.

“Talk to yourself while you’re painting,” he advised. “Ask yourself, should it be lighter or darker? Warmer or cooler?”

It is silent in the room except for the sound of Mr. Handell applying pastel strokes. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. And then he speaks up, reminding us to vary the pressure on our pastel sticks to achieve not only different marks but different colors as well.

A great painting should contain many smaller abstract paintings within it. Upon closer examination, here is a mini-masterpiece I found in this painting.

More of Handell’s masterful color notes.

The finished pastel painting.

Albert’s group of students gather for another plein air painting session at the barn located near the Stanford House in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

More plein air painters with their easels set up across the lake from the barn.

All attention is on Mr. Handell as he gives an artist a critique of her painting.

Another critique, with 16 more to go as Albert points out
the strengths and weaknesses of each painting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Albert Handell holds his 2B graphite pencil this way for loosely drawn passages…

…and this way for more accuracy.

In the beginning stages of the watercolor underpainting…

…students watched intently, following each step that Albert took.

The brushes Albert uses for his watercolor underpaintings.

The completed underpainting.

The beginning stage of pastel application.

Students watch as Mr. Handell applies pastel marks to the painting.

“You need to constantly be making comparisons,” Albert said. “Keep asking yourself questions. Do it all the way to the end of the painting.”

The finished pastel painting.

The reference photos Albert Handell used for this painting
of a Santa Fe adobe-style home.

Beautiful strokes that created foliage and fence posts.

Study the light and shadow shapes in this area. Note the variation
of color within the same values.

A mini-abstract-masterpiece within this great painting.

It rained today so we painted inside the art center, using photo references.
Here are some of the paintings waiting in line for Mr. Handell’s opinion.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Albert applying a watercolor under-painting to UArt pastel paper.

As Mr. Handell applied strokes of pastel, he said, “If you can draw
the human figure, you can draw anything.”

The finished pastel painting.

A closer inspection of this tree painted in pastel.

Handell’s signature floats above the luminous color below.

After lunch, Albert presented a slideshow of his paintings,
and explained how to make use of his techniques.

Albert Handell with some of his students at the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center.

Was the workshop worth it?  Every demo Albert painted sold, students hung on every word he said, and the frequent beeping and clicking of digital cameras was heard as they captured the strokes being made by this artistic genius. Was my chance meeting with the great Master Painter Albert Handell a turning point in my life?  A turning point in the progress of my paintings? Only time will tell.  But I believe very strongly that it was.

Albert Handell with Cindy Salaski, Founder of