Stronger, More Dynamic Paintings



Creating Stronger, more Dynamic Plein Air Paintings
with Susiehyer
October 20 – 22, 2021

The focus of this workshop is to learn to create a strong foundation around which to build your paintings. In plein air painting artists need to get their ideas down very quickly because of the changing light conditions and weather concerns. We’ll learn to start by focusing on the idea of using big value shapes (groups of similar values) in order  to simplify and design the surface. From there we will explore ways to finish the painting by deciding where to break down those big shapes into smaller shapes of color and value.  Utilizing these two approaches will allow students to create a “road map” to guide you through the painting process so you don’t lose your way and start chasing the light mid-painting when the light or weather has changed. This process will make a stronger structure and a more dynamic painting in the end.

Building a painting can be likened  to building a house. A strong foundation, upon which to put up the framing is the first step. The builder starts with a design or blueprint (for a painter that is our thumbnail sketch of what our ‘big shape’ design looks like) then pours the foundation, the “footprint” (this would be our massing in of this basic big shape and value design). Next comes the framework, the walls, the roof (our building upon and relating these shapes to each other). Finally we get to the details-the carpeting, the cabinets, the closets, the paint, and decorating, ( breaking these shapes down into smaller shapes where we want our details and focus). Learning to create a strong foundation or structure as a first step, prevents the collapse of the painting. We will be applying specific concepts of abstract design to strengthen our foundation. Without this foundation, this “road map”, the painting may, and frequently does, fall apart with the changing of the light. We pick ourselves up out of the wreckage and being again, frustrated, time wasted. This failure can be prevented with a strong foundation based on an abstract design underneath it all, so that you don’t lose your way.

This workshop precedes the week-long Sedona Plein Air Festival Oct 23 – 30, 2021. Susiehyer and 24 other female artists will be participating in the festival.

The format of each day will be 9AM- 4PM with an hour break for lunch. In day one of the workshop  there will be discussion and practice of the visual approach known as  “Local Tone”(or the local color and value of 3-4 big shapes),and designing our exercises with this idea in mind. Day 2 will focus on a Light and Shadow approach, based on only 2 big shapes. Day 3 is the day you choose what portion of the learning so far you really need to focus on to get personalized help with that aspect of the process.

In-Person Classes

COVID Health and Safety Protocols

The health and safety of our Patrons, Students, Volunteers, and Staff are a top priority. Since COVID-19 first surfaced, our staff continues to monitor the situation closely, taking every precaution to keep our Patrons, Students, Volunteers, Staff, and our community safe.

  • We require that face masks, covering mouth and nose, be worn in our buildings until further notice. (Note: face shields are not adequate)
  • Enrollment in classes and workshops is limited to ensure social distancing is possible.
  • Staff perform a rigorous sanitation protocol throughout the day.
  • Thermometers are available in the Gallery and Studios for self-checking of temperature upon entrance.
  • Sanitation stations are available at each entrance to the Center. Paper masks are available for no charge.

21 1020 SH



Susiehyer has been drawing and painting since she was a child. “I remember drawing a pair of ceramic flamingos my mother used to keep on her dining room table when I was four years old”, she says. “I knew from that moment I would be an artist when I grew up.”

Born Susan Lynn Hyer in 1954, and known by the moniker Susiehyer, she was fortunate to have multiple art classes in both primary and secondary public education at West Essex Regional High, North Caldwell, NJ. Attending art programs at Moravian College,  The Baum School of Art,  and the University of West Florida in the 1970’s, she continues to study and expand her repertoire and abilities, attending the Art Students League of Denver and participating in workshops whenever she can, with artists such as Quang Ho, Kim English, Ron Hicks, Jay Moore, and Kevin Weckback. In 2001 she also completed the Denver Botanical Gardens Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration.

This award winning artist has been working professionally since 1976 and has been the recipient of a number of scholarships, grants, and awards for her work, including two international design awards. Her work has appeared in numerous galleries and national exhibitions, hangs in many private and corporate collections, and has been published in the celebrated books Art of the National Parks: Historical Connections, Contemporary Interpretations and Landscapes of Colorado. Susiehyer’s work has also been featured in  Southwest Art Magazine, Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine,  Art of the West Magazine, Plein Air Magazine, and on the covers of Art Life, Evergreen Living, and Mountain Country Life. Most recently she was included in the American Art Collector Series of books. She has been a National Vice President of the Women’s Caucus for Art, President of the New Orleans Chapter, and is a signature member of Oil Painters of America , signature member of the American Impressionist Society,  Plein Air Painters of New Mexico , signature member of  Plein Air Artists of Colorado, and  Plein Air Painters of Hawaii .

Susiehyer maintains a home, studio, and multiple gardens in Evergreen, Co where she lives with her husband, sometimes one or two grown children, a dog, two cats, and numerous elk, deer, and other wildlife. She continues to push herself in new directions and challenge herself artistically, traveling to paint “en plein air” (outdoors/on location), and working from sketches, field studies, and photos in the studio. Painting trips outside of Colorado usually include Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and southern Utah, Sedona,  Taos, California and Hawaii. And when the right opportunity arises, there is international travel as well…..Mexico, Tahiti, Belize, Corsica, France,  Portugal.  She teaches workshops out of her studio in Evergreen and is an invited juror for local and and national exhibits.

To follow Susie’s travels, activities, recent paintings and latest news also visit


West Essex Regional High School, North Caldwell, NJ.  graduated 1972
Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pa., 1972-76 Bachelor of Arts/Fine Art, Scholarship Award
Baum School of Art, Allentown, Pa., 1977 Scholarship Award
University of West Florida, Pensacola, Fla., 1978-79 Scholarship Award
Denver Botanic Gardens Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate Program, 2002-03
Art Students League of Denver, 2002-2004 (studies with Quang Ho, Kim English, Doug Dawson, Kevin Weckbach, John Lencicki, Ron Hicks)
extended studies with Kevin Weckbach, workshops with Quang Ho, Dan Beck, Kim English


Lone Tree Arts Center, Lone Tree, CO 2015, one woman show
Byers-Evans Museum, Denver,CO 2013
Evergreen Fine Art, 2013, one woman show
Byers-Evans Museum, Denver, CO, 2013
Lakewood Cultural Center, 2013, one woman show
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver 2009, one woman show
Mary Williams Fine Art, Boulder 2008
Rotary Gallery, Evergreen, 2008, one women show
Center for the Arts Evergreen, 2007, one woman show
The Framed Image Denver 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Cultural Council of Estes Park Gallery, “Susiehyer At Large”, Estes Park, CO, 2007,  one woman show

National Exhibitions include : Virtuosos of the Oil Painters of America Exhibit 2019, OPA National Exhibitions 2012, 2014, 2015;   OPA’s Western Regional 2010, 2016;   OPA Salon Shows, 2010, 2015, 2016:  American Impressionist Society 2015, 2017: Women Artists of the West 2009;  Salon International;  Paint America Top 100: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010;  Art for the Parks 2005 , Top 100 and Mini 100 Competition;  Arts for the Parks 2005, 2006: Top 100 and 2nd 100.

Professional Organizations

Oil Painters of America, signature member
American Impressionist Society, signature member      http://americanimpressionistsociety.orgPlein Air Artists of Colorado(PAAC) signature member

Plein Air Painters of New Mexicao

Plein Air Painters of Hawaii(PAPOH)
Paint America Association Signature Society: Signature membership


Art of the National Parks: Historic Connections, Contemporary Interpretations, Jean Stern, Susan Hallsten McGarry, Terry Lawson Dunn, Fresco Fine Art Publications

Plein Air Magazine, Dec/Jan 2017 feature article

 Art of the West Magazine, Nov/Dec 2011, “Nature’s Magic”

Southwest Art Magazine, July 2011, “Teachers and Their Students”

Southwest Art Magazine, Feb issue 2011, feature article, “The Big Picture”

Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, Mar/Apr issue 2009, feature article “Today’s Masters”

Soundings Magazine, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Winter issue, 2009

Southwest Art Magazine, August 2007, “At Home in Nature”

Landscapes of Colorado, Ann Daley/Denver Art Museum, Fresco Fine Art Books, 2007

Best of Oil Artists and Artisans, Kennedy Publications, 2007 and 2009

American Art Collector Book Series, Alcove books, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011

Colorado Homes and Lifestyles Magazine, 2004

A Season of Growth, Colorado Lottery, 2004

Evergreen Living Magazine, cover and featured artist, 2004

Canyon Courier, front page and featured article, 2004

Mountain Country Life Magazine, cover, 2004

Contemporary Women Artists Calendar, Bo Tree Productions, 1986

Art/Life Magazine, cover, 1984

Les Beaux Arts Magazine, 1984

Hue Points Magazine, 1983 and1984


2018        Paint the Peninsula, Port Angeles WA, Best Nocturne Award

2018        Oil Painters of American Wet Paint Competition, Steamboat Springs CO. Plein Air Award

2018        Santa Fe Plein Air Festival,  Santa Fe NM. Enchanted Sky Award 2nd Place.

2017        Plein Air Artists of Colorado 21st Annual National Exhibit, Mary Williams Fine Art, Boulder, CO.  Third Place

2017        Paint the Peninsula, Port Angeles Fine Art Center, Port Angeles, WA. Best Nocturne Award

2016        Oil Painters of America Fall Online Showcase, Third Place

2016        Plein Air Artists of Colorado, Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder, CO   2016 Award of Merit

2015        Plein Air Artists of Colorado, Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder CO, 2015 Award of Merit

2015        Debra Huse Gallery “Just Plein Fun”, Randy Higbee Award of Merit

2014        Telluride Plein Air, Best of Show/Artist Choice Award, Telluride, CO

2014        Oil Painters of America 23rd National Exhibition of Traditional Oils, Bennington Art Center, Bennington, VT. Landscape Award

2014        A New Look At the West, Pearce Museum, Corsicana, TX.  Tin Star Award of Excellence

2013        Colorado Plein Air Festival, Denver, CO, Plein Air Magazine Award of Merit

2013        Colorado Plein Air Festival, Denver, CO, Plein Air Artists of Colorado Award of Excellence

2013        Plein Air Artists of Colorado National Exhibit 2013, Award of Excellence

2013        Sedona Plein Air, Sedona, AZ,   Quick Draw Award, and Purchase Award

2012        Denver Plein Air, Denver, CO, Third Place and People’s Choice Awards

2012        American Women Artists, K Newby Gallery, Tubac, AZ, Award of Recognition for 2-D

2012        Windows To The Divine, Abend Gallery,Denver ,CO,  Third Place Collectors Choice Award

2011        Plein Air Rockies, Cultural Council of Estes Park Fine Art Gallery, Estes Park, CO BEST OF SHOW

2011        Plein Air Artists of Colorado, Saks Galleries, Denver CO Award of merit

2011        Denver Plein Air, Denver CO, Honorable Mention

2010        Plein Air Artists of Colorado, Saks Galleries, Denver CO First place

2010        Denver Plein Air, Denver, CO   Honorable Mention

2009        Women Artists of the West, Saks Galleries, Denver, CO   Third place

2009:       Colorado Mountain Plein Air Festival, Salida, CO     BEST OF SHOW and Quick Draw winner

2009        Plein Air Artists of Colorado,Abend Gallery, Denver, CO   BEST OF SHOW

2009        Victor Plein Air, Victor, CO   BEST OF SHOW

Workshop Supply list:

Your normal painting set up and supplies, including plein air type pochade box and tripod/french easel/ whatever you are comfortable using, but must be easily portable.

  • Palette
  • Brushes (a variety of smaller up to 1”, flats or filberts
  • Paint ….at least a warm and a cool version of the primaries (ex. Lemon ,cad yellow light, hansa yellow for the cool yellow
  • Cadmium yellow med or dark for the warm yellow
  • Cadmium red light for warm red
  • Alizarin crimson for the cool red
  • Ultramarine for the warm blue
  • Cerulean, Cobalt, Prussian blue. Stay away from the Thalo.
  • and whatever other colors you normally use.
  • Sedona Arts Center will supply Mona Lisa odorless Mineral Spirits
  • Some cotton rags (old T-shirts work great for this.)
  • A small sketchbook for doing thumbnail sketches in pencil.
  • A pad of canvas paper for doing exercises in paint (any size from 6×8 to 9×12 are best for these quick studies.)
  • Notebook for taking notes – it’s a lot of info you will want to go back and refer to later.
  • Photos to work from in the studio in the event of rain.
  • Keep in mind that in this workshop we are only doing EXERCISES that will enhance your understanding of how to build a strong structure for your future plein air and studio paintings, we are NOT making masterpieces here.

Cancellation Policy


  • Each student must enroll individually
  • Students may register online or by calling the Sedona Arts Center’s Administrative Offices in the Art Barn, toll-free at 888-954-4442 or locally at 928-282-3809
  • Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express are accepted or student may pay with cash or check by registering in person during office hours at the Art Barn

In-Person and Online Workshops

  • A student may pay in full or place a $125 non-refundable deposit to save a space in the workshop
  • Any unpaid balance is due at least 30 days prior to first day of class
  • If a student cancels before the 30-day cut-off, the balance is refunded (or cancelled if not already paid) – the deposit is non-refundable
  • If a student cancels within the 30-days prior to class, no refund is given and both deposit and balance are forfeited
  • If Sedona Arts Center cancels the workshop for any reason, all payments made will be refunded in full

Important Message

The Sedona Arts Center is not responsible for providing make-up sessions or issuing refunds, credits, or transfers for courses missed as a result of illness, emergencies, or other events beyond our control. There are absolutely no refunds after the cut-off date for any reason, unless the Sedona Arts Center has to cancel the workshop, then all fees paid will be refunded in full.

Covid-19 Update for In-Person Classes and Workshops: 

As long as SAC is able to provide an environment that adheres to the CDC guidelines for social gatherings, and assuming all other normal criteria are met and the workshop or class goes forward, the above cancellation policies are in effect.

Be prepared to work. There is nothing fluffy about Susiehyer's workshop. Her teaching style is packed with information, preceptive, edifying. Susiehyer organizes the information to build on the lesson of the previous day. She teaches you to see the underlying abstract shapes that support the composition of a strong and dynamic painting. She teaches you to remain unattached so that you are free to explore and take risks. Critiques are like an arrow hitting its mark. Sharp, focused, and always respectfully delivered. And her passion for substance and beauty shines through it all... - Karen W.

You were a great teacher and I so enjoyed and needed that! Come back and teach again. - Roxanne B

I really enjoyed the workshop even though every one else was so far ahead of me in experience and talent. But we all have to start some where! It gave me a good basis in which to get started and I am looking forward to getting many more miles on my brushes! - Ann Musselman

What I liked best about Susie's workshop is that it gave me a set of tools and a system for creating better paintings. I now know how to get where I want to go before I start a painting and a roadmap to find my way back if I get lost along the way! It is a thrill to watch Susie's knowledge in action when she masterfully paints a demo before your eyes! - Marie J.

I found Susiehyer's workshop to be very informative, challenging and fun! Although her demos were my favorite instruction, I really enjoyed the one-on-one painting experience, too. I hope to take another workshop from her in the future as my own style develops and my appreciation for the plein air sharpens. - Cynde P

Susiehyer is an expert plein air workshop leader. She is a highly talented plein air artist who is also skilled in teaching the fundamentals of painting. Her demos and work with individuals in the field each day beautifully illustrate her teaching points, underscoring the artistic strength she brings to her workshops. I came away filled with a sense that my own work will take a big step forward." - Eleanor S M

Your workshop set me up for a breakthrough in my painting. Thanks so much for explaining and demonstrating the importance of establishing a strong value system from the start. - Anna Gale Campenelli