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Seattle, WA April 27 - May 3, 2019

When Gillian Lee Smith was in Seattle last spring, she was inspired by the cranes of Seattle's shipyards, the building cranes so prolific throughout the Emerald City and the working vessels in the Puget Sound. 

Even the ventilation stacks of the underground tunnel where Bertha finally emerged after tunneling her way through the bowels of Seattle inspired Gillian. So, she's returning for a third time to Seattle to teach Urban Landscapes, and it will be one of only two workshops she will lead in the US next year. 

In her own words: 

I have traveled to Seattle twice now and each time I am absolutely struck by the beauty to be found in its Urban Landscapes.

The monolithic cranes down by the docks that are strangely prehistoric in their imposing birdlike stature. The repeated patterns in the elevated freeways and their underpasses. The striking geometry of the bridge at Ballard Lock. The chaos of shape, line and structure at the Fisherman's Terminal with the fishing fleets and leisure boats.

My inspiration is often found in the powerful remnants of almost declining industries and a sense of history, but there is beauty to be found in the new elements of the landscape, too, if you care to find it.

During this workshop, we will be seeking inspiration in these incredible urban landscapes to excavate a powerful way of interpreting what we see, in an expressive way.

I will be sharing with you some of the artists from the 19th and 20th centuries who made industrial and urban landscapes their passion in creating powerful and dynamic interpretations of their dramatic surroundings. I will also share my own fascination for these beautiful landscapes and structures and how I use them as starting points for my work which references maritime history and industrial heritage.

We will be looking to these artists for initial inspiration, but the focus will very much be on observation and expression in the landscape itself. The key is to immerse ourselves in sketching, gathering and research to inspire personal interpretation in the studio work in mixed media.



Drawing and observation is the foundation of our explorations this week on our days out sketching. Experiencing and immersing ourselves in the landscape. Using simple materials and sketchbooks to gather and record what we see.

Day One, Saturday April 27th - 5:00-8:00  Pre-class reception, introduction and preparation.

Day Two, Sunday April 28th. Meet in the studio at 9:30. We will walk to the waterfront to sketch. Lunch will be on the waterfront. When finished sketching, we will walk back to the studio. Dinner is on your own tonight.


Day Three, Monday April 29. Meet in the studio at 9:30. Here we will be primarily based in the studio to work on expressive drawing with simple materials. However, we may also take another opportunity to get out into the landscape in the local area and fill some more pages of our sketchbooks, concentrating on expression and dynamic drawing. Lunch will be provided. Class will be over at 4:30 and dinner is on your own this evening. 

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Day Four, Tuesday April 30.  Meet at the studio at 9:00 and we will carpool to Ballard to the Fisherman's Terminal to sketch at the piers. There is so much inspiration to be found here and we will be finding ways to stay expressive with our drawing but also edit down to what is most inspirational. Interpreting the landscape in our own way.

Lunch will be at Chinooks and we hope to have time to go to the nearby locks. Our day will end at 4:30 either returning to the studio or you may stay and visit any of the nearby neighborhoods for your dinner this evening. Ballard has a lot of restaurants to choose from. 

Day Five, Wednesday May 1.   Meet in the studio at 9:00. Here we have a half day in the studio – gathering our materials, playing with expressive mark making, layering, and ways of losing and finding our drawings to create history and a sense of freedom in our drawing. Lunch and the rest of the day is free for you to explore Seattle. 

Day Five, Thursday May 2.  Meet in the studio at 9:30. 

During these studio-based days we will be working on several pieces at once, to create multi layered mixed media works that explore composition, expression and abstraction and interpreting the landscape in our own unique way.


Lunch will be provided and this evening we will have a very special celebration at Il Terazzo Carmine.

Day Six, Friday, May 3.  Meet in the studio at 9:30. Lunch will be provided,

You will finish the week with sketchbook pages, studies, expressive experiments and some fully resolved mixed media pieces and a wealth of ideas for ways of being inspired in your own landscape and surroundings.

At three we will clean up our studio spaces and share our work. The workshop ends at 4:00. 

Fisherman’s Terminal

Fisherman’s Terminal

This Escape includes

  • Six and half days of instruction from Gillian

  • Reception

  • Five lunches

  • Farewell Dinner

  • Some art supplies

  • Beautiful studio to create in the SoDo District

  • Field trips to waterfront downtown and to Ballard

  • New Art Tribe

This trip starts and ends in Seattle, WA. 

Price is $1,700 and is limited to 12

A $1,000 nonrefundable deposit it due at registration. Final payment of $700 is due December 30, 2018

Price does not include airfare or hotel accommodations. There are many nearby hotels and AirBnbs. You can Uber from anywhere in Seattle to Leslie's studio. 

Airport - Seattle International Airport (SEATAC)

Supply List

We will provide

  • Drawing paper and newsprint for studies and explorations

  • Arches oil paper for mixed media works

  • Graphite powder

  • Gesso

  • Transfer paper

  • Cold wax

  • Black Ink

Student Supply List

Sketching Supplies

  • Lead/graphite pencils in various levels of softness – Gillian likes a range of 6b, 8b and 9b pencils. She also particularly likes the Blackwing palomino pencils.

  • Eraser – stick eraser, white eraser and kneadable eraser

  • Retractable knife or scalpel for sharpening pencils

  • Charcoal and carbon/graphite pencils of any kind – Gillian likes Generals peelable charcoal pencils. Carbon pencils are great too as they are almost midway between a graphite and a charcoal pencil.

  • Embossing tools in various sizes – you can find these in the card making dept of craft tools – just something with a dull rounded point – even an old ballpoint pen works for this.

  • A sketchbook – the bigger the better!! Gillian loves the A3 Moleskine sketchbook which is 16.5 x 12 inches. It is pretty big but allows for incredibly expressive drawings when out sketching. However, bring a sketchbook that is as big as you can pack and can comfortably handle when out and about. No smaller than 8.5 x 11 inches of at all possible.

  • Bag or backpack to carry your supplies

Studio Materials

  • Art Graf tailors chalk – these do come in a set, but you don’t have to get that. Just a black and one other colour would be grand.

  • Charcoal sticks – Gillian likes Coates willow charcoal if you can get it but any charcoal will be great. Medium and thick sticks.

  • A roll of Masking Tape/blue tape/green tape

  • Brayers – at least 2 brayers/rollers

  • Paint shapers/Princeton hand held silicone scrapers or dough/kitchen bowl scrapers

  • Or old credit cards/business cards

  • 1 or 1 ½ inch bristle brushes

  • Paint brushes in various sizes from small to medium – we will be using these with oil and cold wax so a variety of old brushes will do or bristle brushes.

  • Paper Palette – tear off paper palette

  • Palette knives – at least 2 or 3

  • Rags – a few!

  • Something to wrap and protect your paintings for the travel home – plastic bags or glassine paper or non stick parchment paper

Optional extras

  • Oil sticks or oil bars

  • Other mixed media supplies such as graphite sticks, coloured pencils, stabilo woodys,

  • Colour powder pigments

  • Soft pastels or oil pastels

  • Paper will be provided however you are welcome to bring cradled boards or cotton or linen covered boards in a size of your choice but no bigger than 24 x 30 inches.

Rusty crusty remnants of life on the sea

Rusty crusty remnants of life on the sea

We are very lucky that our friend, Leslie West, shares her beautiful studio at the Bemis Building with us for our classes. She is both an artist and a stager so her studio is filled with her beautiful work and staged vignettes that feed our artists' souls. You won't be able to stop looking around at what she creates. It's very inspiring. 


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Gillian Lee Smith is a Scottish artist living in the beautiful, historic North-East coast of England. Inspiration and connection comes from individuals and communities and the marks they make on the landscape in which they reside. Coastal villages that cling to the space between land and sea. Communities of people that are forever between that place of hope and loss. And the way our own personal narratives in turn become etched on our faces and in our character.

As a teacher, Gillian is inspired to bring her love of people and place to each workshop using a wealth of techniques to make new discoveries along with her students. The author of three highly successful online courses - Unearth Gather CreateDrawn to Expression and Portraits, Your Art Your Way which explore the fundamentals of art while encouraging exploration and progression, as well as a mentoring program.

This is Gillian's sixth Bellissima Art Escape.