August 31st to September 6th


I am thrilled to Welcome Alyssa Monks , an extraordinary painter here to EOM for the Art retreat and workshop of a lifetime !


Transcending the photo reference

Alyssa monks

Painting: Transcending the Photo Reference

This workshop is designed to guide the students toward creating a painting from a photo reference, using both indirect and direct traditional painting techniques. It aims to instruct painters on how to use the photograph to create a painting that surpasses the look of the photograph, not simply imitates a photograph. The workshop will explain how to create a useful photo reference, covering topics such as ideal lighting, camera settings, lenses, Photoshop, and printing.

The process will begin with preparations such as choosing a composition through quick sketches from a variety of reference photos, progressive oil sketches with limited use of the photograph, and then laying in the composition with an imprimatura wash. When that is dry, the students will learn to create color relationships that portray the space and volume, creating the illusion. Emphasis is then placed on paint application and ways of activating the surface. By focusing on deliberate brush stroke and maintaining accurate color relationships rather than rendering, the application of paint to describes the form. We will accentuate the structural volumes of the form over the contour, concentrating on relating all parts of the picture to each other with an organized palette. From there, students will be guided towards deciding what information is useful to look for and what usual pitfalls to avoid when interpreting a photograph. Deciding when and how to invent and experiment is perhaps the most crucial part of the process. Students will be encouraged to look more at the painting itself than the photographic source, using it only for initial reference. We will explore ways of seeing the picture objectively, how to imply detail without overstating, and what level of finish works best for the particular painting or style. The painting will develop through indirect layers of opaque and transparent painting to achieve the delicate nuances of flesh and other surfaces. Methods of Glazing and Scumbling will be discussed. The final result can be a painting that captures the essence of your subject (and your connection with that subject) and contains the intimacy of the human touch that transcends a smooth photo-realistic image. There are a variety of results varying from abstraction/improvisation to a more illusionistic representation. All will be discussed and the challenges and rewards of each will be explored.

Registration now open


You will spend 6 nights in this magical place , immersed in the painting experience . The group will meet in Westport on August 31st and be transferred to EOM in Mulranny . The first day will be spent in the area exploring and finding inspiration for your art and the second day will be a warm up painting day . The studio is fabulously well equipped for all kinds of mixed media ,especially encaustic and students are encouraged to experiment . We will have open studio until midnight all week

Syllabus for course

  • Studio Day 1: (Sept 3 )

  • Why this workshop/Objective of the workshop/Methods and plan

  • What makes a good photo reference and how to create one in more detail and go over examples.

  • Students will pick from a supply that is provided for subjects that interest them and are also good references to work from. 

  • Color progression/color relationships discussion

  • Color mixing, (matching) and palette preparation, understanding color progression 

  • Discussion and demonstration on application, edges, brushstroke, thick or thin paint, etc.

  • How to see volume instead of silhouettes and paint form, various techniques discussed

  • Editing detail in photograph

  • Studio Day 2:(Sept 4 )

  • Initial application covering entire surface, taking care of color relationships and exploring new application techniques, to create initial illusion based on color in photograph

  • Discussion on responding to the painting vs. the photograph. 

  • Experimentation and exploration: not following the photograph perfectly or literally. Making intentional strokes and informed decisions. When and how to experiment and why it’s essential to the painting process.

  • What is the useful information to look for in the photograph? Anatomical clues, volumes, structure, drawing issues solved by avoiding the silhouette and looking at the internal structure and volumes as opposed to the outline

  • Pitfalls to avoid when reading the photograph

  • Studio Day 3( Sept 5 )

  • Lecture on responding to the painting vs. the photograph.

  • Discussion of desired results varying from abstraction/improvisation to a more realistic illusion

  • What is the essence of your subject that must be conveyed with the intimacy of the human touch beyond the photo-realistic image?

  • How to finish, what is finished, you are the first audience.


Please note !

A maximum of 15 students per workshop. Students may work only in Oil paint (no alkyd or water soluble substitutes). Students must have some knowledge of working with oil paints, and be familiar with basic supplies and clean up procedures. Beginners are welcome. All students are required to submit 5 jpegs of their oil paintings (no larger than 1000K) to the venue prior to registration so Alyssa can guage the level of experience among the class and adjust appropriately. No film or audio recording is permitted, students may be asked to leave if they are found makign any recordings. A detailed materials list, with notes, will be distributed upon registration up to 3 weeks prior to the class to ensure time to prepare. Students are required to be prepared for class on the first day. Alyssa will provide photo references for the students to use for the workshop, they are not encouraged to bring their own photographs.

map for Mulrannyjpg.jpg


  • 3 full days Workshop instruction with Alyssa

  • Open studio time .

  • Some supplies (we be specified closer to trip)

  • 6 nights lodging

  • Transportation from Westport to the Studio (it is recommended to fly into Dublin Airport and take a train to Westport

  • All meals except - 2 lunches & 1 dinner

  • All tour & excursion fees

  • Wine with dinner

This beautiful learning center is complete with well equipped mixed media/encaustic art studio, private bedrooms, a cozy gathering room with fireplace and group kitchen for those midnight snacks! All meals will be included and prepared by an on-site private chef and will focus on delicious, healthy cuisine

your investment

($500 deposit will hold your spot )

$3975 .Private room and Private bath