Ventura Land Trust Presents Outdoor Paint Shop at Harmon Canyon Preserve

Ventura Land Trust expands its public program offerings with an artist-led outdoor painting workshop at 8 a.m. on July 9 at Harmon Canyon Preserve.

Artists Debra Holladay, Laura Wambsgans, and Marian Fortunati will offer instruction to new and experienced artists on how to capture Harmon Canyon’s natural landscape through composition, form, color, and paint manipulation.

Participants will receive group and one-on-one instruction. The group discussion will allow painters to learn from each other. Ventura Land Trust staff will join the workshop to share elements of the natural and cultural history of Harmon Canyon Preserve.

Painting in the open air, the French expression for “en plein air”, is the act of leaving the walls of a studio and painting in the open air. Artists explore how to paint form and light, with its changing and ephemeral qualities, with portable paints and easels.

“Painting en plein air allows me to focus and interact in real time to understand and learn about a place,” said workshop facilitator Debra Holladay. “The experience of light, color, sound, smell, temperature and touch magnifies and records my experience through painting.”

“One of the most rewarding aspects of working outdoors is seeing things you’ve never noticed before, like the color of dry grass or a fleeting edge of neon where light bends or reflects . I hope to share this aspect of vision and how to translate it into paint with workshop participants, in addition to a basic approach to turning a blank canvas into a paint.

The workshop is $20 for members of the Ventura Land Trust and $30 for non-members. Attendees can view the complete list of suggested painting supplies and register for the workshop at

The mission of Ventura Land Trust is to permanently protect the land, water, wildlife and scenic beauty of the Ventura region for present and future generations. The organization currently owns and manages land along the Ventura River and in the Ventura Hills, including the 2,100-acre Harmon Canyon Preserve. All preserves are open to the public daily from dawn to dusk free of charge. Ventura Land Trust is an accredited member of the Land Trust Alliance.

A lifelong painter and Californian, Ms. Holladay’s artistic career began at the age of two with a tube of red lipstick and her cooperative dog, followed by a pencil mural unsuccessfully hidden behind dresser. Working both in the studio and in the field, Ms. Holladay rewards the viewer with small details often overlooked by the casual observer in her paintings.

She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Central Oklahoma, followed by six years of study at the Art Students League of New York. Artist member of the California Art Club, she is co-founder of Studio2310 and founding member of the PAC6 Painters.

Originally from California, Ms. Wambsgans began landscape oil painting 16 years ago, after working as the general manager of a major recording studio and then as a sculptor for two decades. Studying intensely with Scott Christensen and other respected landscape painters and painting daily, Ms. Wambsgans strives to capture the effect of light on earth, through color and quality of paint.

In 2006, the artist directed “Chasing Open Spaces”, an environmental project painting the open spaces of the Santa Clarita Valley. The exposures generated by this project have contributed to the preservation of the Elsmere Canyon in Santa Clarita. Ms. Wambsgans has been an active member of the California Art Club since 2002 and a founding member of the PAC6 Painters.

Award-winning artist Ms. Fortunati is a contemporary California Impressionist who uses oil paints to create interesting experiments with texture and color. She is originally from Southern California and has enjoyed a long career as a teacher and principal in Los Angeles. After painting and studying art for many years outside of work, she now paints full time.

Ms. Fortunati laid a foundation in the Impressionist tradition of seeing and painting forms of light and color through the instruction of artists Ray Roberts, Frank Gardner, Matt Smith, Daniel Pinkham and master landscape and underwater artist David C. Gallup.

An artist member of the California Art Club and a founding member of PAC6 Painters, she maintains affiliations with the American Impressionist Society, Oil Painters of America, and various other art organizations.



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