Join Us For Next Year at The Parker Ranch

Join un in Clayton for the next painting retreat and you can be painting right here on the river!

Gallery Block
This is an example. To display your Instagram posts, double-click here to add an account or select an existing connected account. Learn more

Still time to sign up Plein air at Parker Ranch

3 Day Retreat $75 Plus Lodging   May 4 - 6  Friday -  Sunday

Stay together, paint together. The Parker Ranch  in Clayton, GA is a cozy gathering place and a place I go back to year after year. 

Painting Retreat $75

Stay together, paint together. The Parker Ranch  in Clayton GA is a cozy gathering place. The owners, Becky and Paula have hosted my plein workshops several times and they always out do themselves to make sure everyone is comfortable.

 Working from the landscape is such a great way to improve your paintings, but it can be overwhelming when just starting out.  I'll help you with tips and tricks to setting up and how to find your focus. This is a painting retreat with a loose structure and limited instruction. I will be available to give advice as you paint or you can strike out on your own.  This year, I would love for us to hit the town of Clayton for a night painting as well. ( optional - but fun!!) I love the energy working outdoors brings to my paintings and I think you will too.
Retreat Times
 2 - 6 Friday,  10 - 5 Saturday,  10 - 2:30  Sunday (optional night painting on Friday or Saturday ) 


Join me for a relaxing weekend painting  and camaraderie in the beautiful North GA  mountains.
Cost - $75 for the retreat pay here  and $140 for a single room/ $70 shared room a night for the rooms - reserve with Becky at Parker Ranch and pay her directly.  Becky Hoover

Retreat Includes daily tips in the field as needed, nightly critique, and social hour with wine and cheese. Breakfast each morning is provided by the Ranch with your reservation. 

Deadline to sign up is April 2nd.

Room arrange should be made through Becky at the Parker Lodge
Becky Hoover

You can request a private or shared room.

What's not included:
Lunches and dinner
Painting supplies

Supply list

This is a rain or shine event. Bring photos to work from just in case we have bad weather. There are plenty of covered porches we can paint from as well

Here is a link  to a great post from fellow artist Lori Putman with tips for flying with you paints.

** I have a few extra plein air easels if you are new. Just let me know right away if you need one.

Find out more HERE
Deadline to sign up is April 2nd.

Other Classes and Workshops

For more info, check out  my  Classes page. 

Hooray for spring!

DIY Palette Box and Wet Panel Carrier

As I am getting ready for the 3 day painting retreat at The Parker Ranch in Clayton, I thought I would share this earlier post on how to build a palette box. If you are handy, it's nice to make your own! - Dawn

In a recent Plein air workshop, one of the students asked me to share how I made my palette box and wet panel carrier. Of course I've had that on my to do list for months, but that was the motivation I needed to get my to sit down and work on it.

A portable palette box and wet panel carrier for plein air

I typical paint 12 x 16 when working plein air, so I made the bottom of the box large enough to hold that size once I put the sides on. 13x 17 plus the handles.  Once I had the back cut out, I cut out the space that will go around my tripod. I used the jigsaw and drill with a spade bit to make this cut.

Now I have base of the palette box, I made the sides. I used  1/2 inch oak for this and cut them to size using the miter saw. Next I cut a block to bring the handle up to the same height as the sides. Now I put an adjustable bracket on the handle that will hold it on to the tripod.

This is a close up of the handle.  I mitered the top piece so that it can easily slide on to the tripod and the tension will hold the box in place. Also, it can be adjusted if I ever change tripods. 

Time for the folding shelves. I made two sides for the shelves first to make sure I had the measurements right, then cut the panels to make the tops. Glueing and nailing them to the frames

Okay ready for the hinges. I ran four small hinges down each side. 

Here's the completed box. I put blocks on the back as well with enough open space for me to guide the panels in. I have clips on the sides that will hold the panels in place.  It will hold 2 panels facing each other with plenty of space between them to keep them from touching. 

I also stapled elastic to the sides, that holds my palette knives, brushes and small tubes of paint. Then put mirror hangers on the sides and attach a shoulder strap and voila!!

Okay, there you have it. I hope it's helpful  

Thanks Megan for motivating me to actually do this. Let me know if you have any question!



Why do you do it?!?

Why do we do what we do? This is a question that keeps coming up in the classes I have been at C4 (business classes for artists). I am amazed by how hard this question is to answer.

Easy answers:

I can.  I love it.  I'm curious.  Etc....

Why is this such a hard thing to answer? I have been making art most of my life. I have a degree in painting. I have been teaching painting classes for 14 years. But why do I do this? Well... I love making 3 dimensional space on a 2 dimensional plane, moving color back in forth within that 2D space. I love problem solving, and I just like to walk around and look and think about how so many things are possible on one little planet.

 I have been assigned to make my mission statement  as part of my class work, and after a lot of struggle, I think I have it.

Mission: Create expressive paintings that elevate the ordinary and encourage the viewer to appreciate the beauty of the day to day.

When it comes down to it, I always feel so lucky. I love my work and I can always learn and improve. I look forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. 

Paint on my friends,


Making Progress

Monday in the studio!! Untitled for now, 24 x 36 Oil on canvas - palette knife.

24 x 36 Oil on Canvas

Last weeks efforts.

This one started as a plein air study in Olmsted Park

Check out all classes available online: click 

Classes and Workshops

Hope to see you out there,



Questions? Get in touch

Studio Tip: What do you get when you cross a paper towel roll and a saw?

I was tired of wasting paper towels in the studio or being to cheap to get a clean one, so I thought I'd try cutting a role down in the shop. By cutting the roll into three sections, I have the perfect size to clean my brushes and knives without waste! Hallelujah   Why did it take me so long to come up with this??

Cheers, Dawn

Check out all classes available online: click 

Classes and Workshops

.Hope to see you out there,


Questions? Get in touch

Today Efforts - Headed to the Park

I went back around the corner today to see if I could finish this one.  Right at 4:00 the light hits the buildings just right. Now if only these people would hold still!!

9 x 12 "Headed to the Park"  oil on panel, plein air

Here's my start. Too bad I couldn't get that tandem bike in there. Such an unwilling model . : )

Questions? Get in touch

One of my favorite plein air paintings

Wow, I won a sponsorship  award !!

I was almost too embarrassed to

turn mine in. Turn out it's really stressful

 painting in a competition!

The final painting, "Hard Days Work " 12 x 16 oil on panel Sold

The inspiration!!! I've learned a lot out there painting this year,

I look forward to getting out that more in 2016 and see what


Cheers, Dawn


Plein week: Elizabeth City

Painting through all these rainy days in  GA,  really prepared me for the plein air week in Elizabeth City. We can't pick the weather! Oddly enough I've really started to enjoy tackling these grays.

First day, I decided to tackle the harbor from across the boat yard.  "Harbor Hangout" 12x12 oil on panel.

Took a lot of editing, but I'm happy with the results. Someone else appreciated my efforts as well, this one sold the first night of the opening! 

When I found this spot, I fell in love with the scene. "Hard Days Work" 12 x 16 oil on panel

I started this one after a day of painting in the rain, and got a pretty good start on it before the sun went down. Came back to finish it in the morning. This one I turned in for the plein air competition and I'm happy to announce, I won a sponsor award for my efforts. A big thank you to Elizabeth City and the plein air event. I look forward to the next one.

~ Dawn

Great weekend for and art show!!!

The weather was perfect this weekend and people came out to see the art and listen to great music. It was just hard to be in bad spirits this weekend at the Brookhaven Art Festival. I haven't done this show in several years, and I am glad I came back.

 A few of my favorite paintings found new homes this past weekend.
Flowers from a Friend, 20 x 20 oil on panel. This painting is based on flowers from my friend  Stuart's garden in my favorite vase. Talulah River, 16 x 20 plein air painting on canvas. This is my favorite painting spot when up at Parker Ranch.  Red Maple, 12 x 16 oil on panel. This was from the Olmsted plein air paint out, and I was pleased with the dappled light in this one.

It is so rewarding when your work in appreciated. A big thank you to my new collectors!!


Oct 3 Sat 10:00 - 3:00 Intro to Plein Air 
Oct 9-11, Fri - Sun Painting Retreat at the Parker Ranch Clayton, GA
Holiday Classes**
Nov 11 - Dec 9, Wed 10am - 1 pm Painting Techniques
November 14 - 15, Sat & Sun 10 - 3  2 Day Color Confidence  Workshop
Dec 1 - Dec 15,  6:15 pm - 9:30pm Tues Painting Studio 
**classes held at DawnArt Studios, 180 A 11th St NE, Atlanta GA 30309, unless noted.

Check out all classes available online click Classes and Workshops and choose the Classes and Workshop heading. 

Still trying to capture color in low light.

"Misty Morning on Lake Clair Meer"

9 x 12 oil on panel, Plein air

This weekend, despite the rain, I taught a really fun plein air workshop. This was an introduction class geared to helping beginners get out there for the first time.  We started in the studio, covering how to get started and then hit Piedmont Park to practice. We found a covered spot over looking Lake Clair Meer and got started.  We got about 2 hours of painting in before heading back to beat the next round of rain storms.  This turned out to be perfect practice for me. I have really been struggling with how to paint color without the help of the sun.  Above is today effort. Seeing progress from last weekend, but still room for improvement.

A couple of the painters below, they really had a nice time. Even with the rain, we where covered and the temperature was great. 

Our inspiration for the day.

You can see what I mean by a gray day

Until next time, Dawn

Upcoming Classes

Painting Away in the Adirondacks!

 Painting the week away with friends in the upper Adirondacks! What a way to spend the week!  For a week in June a group of about 100 artists arrive at Paul Smith College in upstate New York for a week of plein air painting and fellowship.

These are a few painting I worked on during the week along with one someone painted of me while out in the field. This is my second year going to the Adirondack Plein Air Invitational. I love having a week with no distractions,  just paint all day. A great way to make improvements in your work and catch up with friends. 

Kick off for the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational

Join me Wed, April 22, for plein air demonstrations at Callanwolde. Callanwolde has partnered with the Olmsted Plein Air Invitational and will be hosting plein air artist for their first home school festival. I'll be out there painting from 10 - 2 on Wed, and you can find me at the Olmsted Parks the rest of the week. This is going to be a great event! 30 professional artist from across the US and over seas will be out at the Olmsted Parks for the painting competition. If you'd like to try your hand at plein air, there is an event on Sunday for all artists. It's the Paint Quick Event. It's 20.00 to enter and there will be awards and an opportunity to sell you painting as well.

Hope to see you out there.


Annual Spring Home School Festival!
This brand new event at Callanwolde promises to be a wonderful start to a tradition for families with Home Schooled children.  Come celebrate the power of learning outside of a classroom setting with our expert faculty in the beautiful setting of the Callanwolde estate. Spring is also a time to celebrate the wonders of nature, so Think Green! All activities will enrich the lives of children by teaching them about the environment and nature.