The Living Abstract: Using Happy Accidents



The Living Abstract: Using Happy Accidents
Online Workshop with Julie Bernstein Engelmann

Saturdays (three consecutive): November 9, 16, 23 | 11 am – 3 pm AZ time

  • Experience Level: All experience levels are welcome.
  • Medium: Acrylic
  • Materials: Click on the Materials List tab above for a list of supplies.
  • Registration: Each student needs to enroll individually. Click the Cancellation Policy tab above for more information.
  • Location: Online—Julie will email you a Zoom link before each class.
  • Time: Check your time zone difference by entering your location in the search bar here:

The Living Abstract is a foundational workshop that helps you set your painting up for success and capture the living moment.

In three weekly sessions, discover ways to let the paint sing, navigate the mid-process “beautiful mess,” and bring your painting to fulfilled completionwithout losing its life force and what makes it beautiful.

On Days 1 and 2, you’ll be guided step-by-step through a sequence of intuitive and “happy accident” techniques that build on each other to create a painting that is authentic, dynamic, and deep. Along the way, you’ll learn about color mixing and composition to enhance your painting.

On Day 3, see your painting through the eyes of depth and flow. This key approach cuts through confusion, so you can complete your painting and bring it to life in a harmonious and soul-satisfying way. 

Here is what you get when you secure your seat

  • A richly-layered original acrylic artwork that is meaningful and natural to you and comes to life before your eyes—and the discernment to know why it’s great.
  • A sound foundation in abstract painting, so that you understand the dynamics of using background, middle ground, and foreground each for their proper function—which makes a world of difference to your mastery and confidence.
  • Live demonstrations, hands-on painting, sharing, and enlightening feedback—held in the convenience of your home over 3 weekly Zoom sessions, 4 hours each (with snack break). Friendly class size—limited to 10—assures you get plenty of individual attention to address your needs and questions.
  • Downloadable video demonstrations, class notes, and slides—so you can review the steps and concepts whenever you wish. They will touch you differently each time.
  • BONUS: An invaluable Critique Points Checklist that frees you to put criticism aside until the proper moment.

Most attendees make paintings that surprise and amaze themselves. I can’t wait to see yours.

ENROLL NOW to secure your seat. Attendance is limited to 10, first come first served.

If you have any questions, please contact me at

See Julie’s video:  Introduction to The Living Abstract Workshop (4:03 minutes)

*For Julie’s free video training, The Key to Happiljuliebernsteinengelmann@gmail.comy Completing Your Abstract Painting—even if you’ve lost hope, go to

Enrolled students will receive an email invitation with a link to join the Zoom meeting platform from Julie directly. Be sure you have an internet connection and Zoom installed on your device before the first day of the class. 

24 1109 JBE

Julie Bernstein Engelmann

Julie Bernstein Engelmann

Sedona-based artist Julie Bernstein Engelmann creates luminous abstract paintings in acrylic and Conte crayon. Her work explores themes of spiritual dreams and visions.

Educated on both coasts, Julie holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. She earned her Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude) from Barnard College in New York City, where she had the good fortune to study with first-generation Abstract Expressionist Milton Resnick.

Two decades of teaching abstract painting have honed Julie’s specialty in helping abstract artists bring their mid-process “beautiful mess” to fulfilled completion through three vital qualities of powerful abstract painting: meaning, naturalness, and spatial depth and flow. In addition, Julie shares valuable expertise in color mixing to enhance spatial depth.

Julie’s artwork has won many awards and was featured in a retrospective solo exhibition at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Altoona, Pennsylvania. She has exhibited with contemporary galleries in Pennsylvania and Arizona, including the LaFond Gallery in Pittsburgh and the James Ratliff Gallery in Sedona.

See Julie’s CV and sign up for her free video training, The Key to Happily Completing Your Abstract Painting—even if you’ve lost hope, at

Follow Julie on

Artist Statement

“There. Now I can see it!” So declared my mentor, first-generation Abstract Expressionist Milton Resnick, as he took my brush and dragged it loosely through my stiff painting. Suddenly the painting was a unified whole instead of parts. It was my first inkling that a painting has a life force of its own – and that, instead of inflicting myself on it, I could be receptive to it.

In the decades since, I have continued to nurture my relationship with the life force of the artwork, which I call the painting spirit.

To that end, I temper luminous acrylics with earthy Conte crayon – and confident brushstrokes with lyrical doodling – to create the illusion of depth and take the eye on a joyride through that space.

Each painting begins with a specific dream or spiritual experience that I want to explore. Often working with eyes closed, I move between visualization and layer-building, including gesture, washes and wipe-aways, and mark-making.

Once the painting reaches a critical mass of interestingness, I nudge its spatial depth and flow – always listening to the beautiful and mysterious painting spirit, so it sings with a clear vibration.

I watch for the moment when the whole painting opens up like a hologram and something thrilling comes to life that I’ve never seen before!

In this way, the completed painting becomes a harmonious, dynamic portal that invites the viewer to sense the spiritual vibration behind it.

    One surface 18” x 24” (or 20×24).
    – If canvas, please add an extra layer of gesso ahead of time (generously applied, using curvy random motions rather than straight ones).
    – If paper, I recommend good-quality drawing paper or watercolor paper (no gesso needed). Alternatively, if your paper is thin or recycled, please paint a layer or two of gesso on it ahead of time (using curvy motions).
    Suggested colors (at minimum): White, Cadmium yellow medium (or better, instead get both Cadmium yellow light and Cadmium yellow deep), Cadmium red light, Quinacridone magenta, Phthalocyanine blue, Red oxide.
    – Also helpful: Cerulean blue, purple (e.g. Prism violet), green (e.g. Hookers), and whatever you have on hand. Liquitex Basics brand is fine for most colors, but for the Cadmiums I recommend a better brand like Utrecht. Regular acrylic is better for our purposes than heavy body or fluid.
    Soft, synthetic is best. Suggested sizes: 1” wide filbert (rounded); 5/8” wide bright (flat). Helpful: a 1½ to 2″ brush (can be cheap). And whatever you have on hand.
    …or similar. Slightly dilute to approximately 16 parts medium to 1 part water.
    …with lid for keeping paint moist (see photo).
    …e.g. pie tin or palette
    Good quality, soft, smooth, absorbent like VIVA
    2 colors Sharpie markers (or other non-water-soluble markers).
    If working on paper, can use ballpoint pen, pencil, or Conte crayon (available at Dick Blick here)
  • ALSO
    Water container (for rinsing brushes)
    Spray bottle (to keep paint moist)
    Computer or other device for Zoom
    Camera (phone) for taking photos of painting
    Palette knife for scraping palette
    Easel or table easel

For Supplies and Setup photos, go to

Cancellation Policy


  • Each student must enroll individually.
  • Tuition must be paid in full upon registration.
  • Students may register online or by calling the Sedona Arts Center’s Office at 928-282-3809, ext. 1.
  • Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express are accepted or student may pay with cash or check by registering in person during office hours, Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm.

In-Person and Online Workshops

  • Payment in full is due upon registration, or a payment plan can be put in place by the student upon check-out through Sezzle.
  • There is a $40 Cancellation Fee for any cancellations made before June 12, 2024. Remaining balance will be refunded.
  • There are no refunds after June 12, 2024.
  • 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.

"This art class was such a blast! It exceeded my expectations in every way! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learned so much! I’m glad Julie covered all the information/strategies/abstract painting techniques that she did, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of it. Julie also gave plenty of individual guidance and attention. She has a very pleasant, kind, thoughtful, non-judgmental, and upbeat style. We had both beginners and advanced artists in our group, including a professional artist, and the class seemed totally relevant and helpful for all of us. I'm hoping to take the class again to further develop my painting skills and creativity. Thanks for offering such a wonderful class!"

"Julie is very kind and relaxed. She shared several techniques that would serve as motivation to making a truly unique painting. Her use of colors is wonderful."

"As an experienced artist trying a new direction, I really appreciated that she gave us an sufficiently broad, but detailed overview of the techniques with personal guidance as we tried them. I wanted to see all the techniques she used being done, and am already using them to create more fun in my landscapes.... Loved the demo on the small touches to bring about big changes by really taking the time to 'see' the painting first."

"Julie is an excellent instructor. Her feedback was honest and sought after by everyone in the class. Her style of teaching resonated with me and I was able to walk out of the class with all of my goals met. Her passion for what she is doing is absolutely inspirational!"

"I love Julie: Her art, her teaching style, and as a human being. She always makes a workshop a delightful experience"

"Julie is fun, sweet, kind, enthusiastic, and a great teacher! She has the ability to help us see our artwork with fresh eyes looking for the good instead of focussing on the bad. It was a wonderful experience and I will take another class with her one of these days!"

“Julie is a terrific teacher and a real asset to the teaching staff at SAC.”

“I had been hoping to get some insight into painting abstractions, and possibly learn to 'free up' my style. Julie provided both, and so much more. Not only did she provide ways to 'tap into' and express our own individual uniqueness, she also shared the keys to making good abstractions, including color theory and mixing, composition, layering techniques, and other fundamentals of art. I learned so much! Her teaching style and personality gave us students the confidence to move forward, and her critiques were brilliant as she shared her experience about just what we needed to bring our paintings 'over the top.' I would take other classes from her and I recommend her highly.”

“Julie was lovely instructor. She was sensitive to each student. Well organized. Had an excellent hand out. And her class was most valuable And a great value.”

“Julie was fantastic! I so appreciated her patience and kindness.”

"I absolutely loved Julie's workshop. I learned so much that I will revisit time and again on all of my future paintings. I'm thankful for all of the resources she provided and the sharing of her rich experience. Julie is a gifted teacher in bringing out the kid, heart and spirit of a person and a group. She sees, simultaneously, the beauty and the areas for improvement in a huge range of works, styles and experience levels. The critiques of my work and of my fellow students were incredibly helpful. I can't put into words how magical this experience was for me and it seems for the others as well. And I love the paintings I created in her workshop. I look forward to my next workshop and/or mentoring with Julie, and feel like it's my great good fortune to have had this special experience! Thank you!"

"Your ability in critiquing is outstanding. You are gifted in tuning into the artist and the painting. It is very impressive.”

“Julie - what can I say! you were great!...good demo showing your step by step technique, wonderful personal contact & critiques, sharing completed works & the feelings one can get from the paint colors & shapes —AND THE WONDERFUL HANDOUT - I enjoyed it immensely