New Landscape Painting Workshops in NYC

The last few months have been an exciting time of transition …  I finished off a series of big landscape painting commissions (will share pics soon!), and I’ve been busy helping to launch the new Grand Central Atelier in Long Island City, Queens.  This atelier fills the needs of an evolving community of artists that have come together through the Water Street Atelier and the Grand Central Academy. Located in a 12,000 square foot space lit by specially designed skylights, the new GCA is a collaborative workspace for artists pursuing the methodology of historic ateliers to create drawing, painting and sculpture from life. The space will include a gallery and private studios for artists like myself. There is also shared work-space for artists-in-training and another portion of the studio dedicated to ongoing workshops that meet during the days, weekends, and evenings. Stay tuned for more offerings, including events, exhibitions, competitions, lectures, and parties! We are conveniently located in Long Island City, 20 minutes from Grand Central Station on the 7 train. Below are two workshops I am offering through the new GCA.

Landscape Painting: Plein Air to Studio Process

Tuesdays, 1-5 PM Long Island City waterfront & GCA studios, 46-06 11th St, Queens, NY

painting from memory and sketches, by Emilie Lee

painting from memory and sketches, by Emilie Lee


A successful landscape painting relies on the mastery of nature’s vocabulary and this fluency is best achieved through direct observation from life. However, working only from life can be limiting due to the interference of weather, fleeting light effects, and the constraints of time. This class will introduce a technique that will strengthen your ability to work from memory, liberate your imagination, and instill effective observation habits. No photography!

We will spend the first half of each class session making plein air studies and taking notes on location in the outdoors. With our memories fresh, we will go immediately back to the studio and learn how to use our outdoor studies and our creative vision to create finished paintings that are inspired by nature. We will also study examples of how this method has been employed by artists from the past and present. We will be working on the waterfront of the East River in Long Island City, just three blocks away from the new GCA studios.


weekend workshops in NYC cemeteries, co-taught by myself and Anthony Baus

Oct. 10-12 Green-Wood Cemetery (Fri-Sun) , Oct 17-19 Woodlawn Cemetery (Fri-Sun)

Grant's Tomb, by Anthony Baus, ink wash

Grant’s Tomb, by Anthony Baus, ink wash

Relieve yourself from the darkness of the classroom! In the spirit of Halloween, Emilie Lee and Anthony Baus will be using the backdrop of Green-Wood and Woodlawn cemeteries for the setting of two 3-day landscape workshops. Explore the decorative gravestones, richly ornate mausoleums, and guardian angels that haunt these New York City landmarks. Perhaps we will even commune with the spirits of the deceased!
In plien air fashion artists will be encouraged to complete 2-3 oil paintings and/or ink drawings at each location. Anthony’s instruction will focus on the shortcuts of perspective to accurately depict built structures and properly scale objects from foreground to background. Emilie will introduce an efficient approach to plein air painting, addressing concerns of time management, shifting light conditions, atmospheric perspective, and color in nature.
Good drawing is the foundation of every great painting, and in this workshop, we will spend the first day focused only on drawing, establishing accurate perspective and strong composition. On the second and third days, we will show you how to use your initial drawing as a foundation for your final painting.
Individual critiques will be tailored to suit your personal goals for each weekend. The benefit of two instructors is a rare and special opportunity not to be missed!

have paints, will travel

I’ve been on some amazing trips over the past six months and I always try to bring my paints along, so here is an update with the places I’ve been and the paintings I’ve made while traveling.  Enjoy!


JUNE 30. Two of my Greek friends just got married, and they invited a whole gang of friends from NYC to come on their honeymoon in Mykonos!  We started planning the trip a year ago and it was an incredible adventure to discover Greece with Greeks who knew all the secret spots.  The trip was not without a touch of anxiety, however. The morning after the wedding in Thessaloniki, I left my oil paints in a hotel, and spent the first few days on Mykonos mourning my absentmindedness… I was forced to experiment with my watercolors – a hidden blessing, perhaps?  Then I was saved when a friend who traveled after us brought my paints to me.  Anyway, that’s why theres only a few small oil paintings from my time in Mykonos. It could also be because we were busy hiking through ancient ruins, sailing, exploring beaches, staying out late, and enjoying the food!



Painting on the beach in Mykonos


reunited with my paints!


6″x9″ sketch from Mykonos, July 2014


exploring the ruins on Delos Island with the gang


Clean lines and colors in the local archtecture


Mykonos, July 2014


Portrait of the Groom, Leonidas Trampoukis. 4″x4″ oil paint and sand (it was VERY WINDY on the beach that day!)


Portrait of the bride, Eleni Petaloti … 4″x4″ oil on panel … less sand here because I was smart enough to put this one in the car right away! I gave these two small portraits to Leo & Eleni for their wedding present.


JULY 4th.  After Mykonos, I traveled to Volos where my friend  Joel has been living for the past 9 years.  Joel’s wife Anna is from Athens, and together they decided to settle down in this area where they are raising their two sons and restoring an old stone house in the mountainous region known as Pelion or Pilios.  Joel is an architect and a stone mason, and the house is a work of art, honoring old world tradition and full of personal details like custom woodworking and stone carvings, all made by Joel himself. It was really wonderful to see this project in progress and to see what Joel and Anna’s life is like in Greece. During this part of my journey, I explored a very different landscape in the mountains.  While Mykonos is extremely hot, dry and windy, the mountains of Pelion seem to be gushing with spring water everywhere I looked.  The forest felt like a jungle, which reached right down to the pristine white beaches of the Agean sea.


The view from Joel’s house in Paleskastron, Mt. Pelion region, Greece July 2014


exploring the village Agios Laventios, Mt Pelion region, Greece, July 2014


9″x12″ oil on canvas, Fakistra beach, Mt Pelion region, Greece.


painting in Agios Laventios … these villages are all built on steep mountain sides and usually have one avenue for cars and the rest is accessed by narrow cobblestone pedestrian walkways like this


painting on Fakistra Beach … happy to be in the shade! Temperatures were in the 90′s


this is Paleokastron, the tiny settlement where my friends Joel & Anna are restoring an old stone house


Joel & Anna’s house in Paleokastron


A typical view looking out over the village roofs of Agios Laventios, the Pagasetic Gulf in the Agean Sea and the city of Volos. This mountainous area is the mythical home of the centaurs, unusually lush and green for Greece.


June 1. I had a few days to paint on Plum Island, a magical spot north of Boston that is largely protected by the Parker National Wildlife Refuge. A few years ago, I sold my first big commission to a couple who have their permanent home here in Plum Island. I got to see my painting hanging in their house and spend a few days exploring the marshes and wetlands here. This trip was a real teaser, I only had a few days to paint, but I plan to go back later this summer for more!


The refuge is accessed by these boardwalks so that hikers don’t disturb the nesting birds



It rained one morning, so I did this sketch from the car …


then later I made this painting using my memory and the sketch as reference. fun challenge! The birds are plovers, which were nesting in the marshes. 


May 26th. Rob Gorski and I spent a few days on Rabbit Island doing some spring cleaning and preparing the camp for this summer’s artists in residence.  The Keweenaw peninsula endured one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record this year – for the first time since 1979 Lake Superior froze solid!  When we were there in late May, the ice was still breaking up, which is quite unusual. We spent 3 days on the island witnessing the melting icebergs.  I made a few iceberg sketches out there, and I took a fearsome plunge into the water, which was about 34 degrees out there!  You can see some of Rob’s pictures and read more on the Rabbit Island blog:



Rob navigating the icebergs on our way out to Rabbit Island


He left me on an iceberg!


A tiny iceberg sketch



Yeow! that was cold!



A rare springtime treat of wild fiddleheads. I stir fried them with garlic and olive oil, served on pasta it was a nice lunch!


Spring cleaning


February 2. These paintings are from a midwinter trip to Costa Rica!  I went with my yoga teacher Christine Hoar, who is also an avid surfer.  This was a very active vacation – we practiced Ashtanga yoga every morning, followed by at least two surf sessions!  The surfing was super and I also did these paintings, which were quickly snapped up as souvenirs by other people on the yoga retreat. It was a very successful vacation!









Surfing in paradise


waking up at 5 AM to paint the sunrise


up & at ‘em! early bird gets the worm!



Show Opening this week!

Contemporary Tradition FLTApril 11 – May 25

Edwards Art Gallery at Holderness School

Plymouth, NH

Opening reception is April 11, 6:30-8:30 PM


     Well, this should be fun! I’ll have about 20 paintings ranging from figure to still life to landscape.  There will be plenty of small landscapes for sale from my time painting in the White mountains, and a few larger canvases too.  Jonathan Sherman is a very talented artist who spent six years in Italy studying the techniques of Rennaisance masters.  He keeps a low profile online, so this is a special opportunity to see some of his work in person!  We are both alums of Holderness School and we will be spending a day on campus talking about traditional drawing and painting methods.

Holiday Exhibits and More

Here in the city, the chill of winter is setting in but memories of Rabbit Island are still stoking my creative fire.  While my collection of paintings from that trip have been away at the De Vos Museum of Art exhibit, I’ve been busy working on some commissions in my studio. Recently I published another story about Rabbit Island on the Stio blog and I hope you  check it out!  As an ambassador for Stio, I share my writing on their blog throughout the year, you can find links to other articles like this on my press page.  Big thanks to Stio for keeping me warm and dry!


Taking in the endless expanse of Lake Superior! Divide Henley by Stio.


I always have small paintings for sale in my studio and I usually sell them through word-of-mouth.  If you are interested in buying something, my small paintings are all between $200- $800 (sizes range from approx 5″x7″ – 9″x12″) These are all plein air paintings that I’ve done on my travels and excursions out of the city.  Each one comes with a story behind the day I created it!  I’ve tried to organize an album of available paintings here, and I hope that before too long I’ll get a real online store up and running. Meanwhile please email me if you are interested in learning more about a painting or buying something:

Salmagundi Club Thumb Box Exhibition, 47 5th Ave, NYC:

November 18 – January 3. Reception is Thursday, December 5th, 6-7:30 PM.  All paintings in this show are under 108 square inches.  Here are the three paintings I’ll have in the show:


Consternation, 8″x10″, oil on linen, 2013


Straightforward, 8″x10″, oil on board, 2013

Afternoon Melt, oil on archival bookboard, 8"x10"

Afternoon Melt, oil on board, 8″x10″, 2013

Group Show at the First Bank of Greenwich, Cos Cob, CT.

Reception is November 20th, 5-7 PM. These paintings will be on display (and for sale) at the bank throughout the holiday season:


Greenwich Point Park in Gray, oil on linen, 6″x10″, 2013


Sunset from Red Hook, 5″x12″, oil on board, 2013

wave study, 8"x6" oil on linen, 2011

wave study, 8″x6″ oil on linen, 2011

Stay tuned for more exhibits coming up this holiday season!

Report from Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island, a 91 acre oasis of wilderness in Lake Superior, first came to my attention in 2011 when a friend emailed me about a Kickstarter campaign.  An artist residency was planned for the island and when I read about the fledgling project online my heart skipped a beat as I realized how much I would love to go there. The Great Lakes have captured my imagination for many years and this summer I had the chance to be one of the artists at work in this magical setting.

Under the creative vision of Rob Gorski, the residency has been developed with considered restraint – the only shelter from the elements is a 3 sided cabin that serves as a communal kitchen and dining area.  Artists sleep in tents, cook on the campfire, and swim in the frigid water. The intention is to leave behind all distractions of modern life and live close to nature. We tried to cultivate an ethos of simplicity by keeping our off-island imports to a minimum. For instance, processed food and beer cans were discouraged in favor of a “less is more” approach.  We were constantly asking ourselves “what else can we live without?”  This being the third summer of the residency, we were essentially part of a beta testing phase and learned so much that will help shape the experiences of future residents.

I shared the island with a colorful cast of artists, musicians, writers, scientists, and chefs.  The atmosphere was abuzz with creative energy, and adding to that dynamic was the presence of a New York Times journalist and photographer who were writing a story about us. I felt some conflict between my desire to find solitude, and the excitement of the activity around me. In my normal routine I spend a lot of time alone but I recognized the value of this opportunity to work alongside such a diverse group. I loved seeing what fascinated other people about this unique environment and imagining how it would manifest through each individual’s creativity. While I was out painting, completely absorbed in my canvas, I could occasionally look up to see one of the other artists at a distance, equally absorbed in another kind of work. Once when I was walking back to camp, I passed Jessica Kilroy, who was standing on a wobbly rock, shifting her weight side to side and listening intently to the hollow clunk underfoot. I knew she was collecting field recordings to use in her music compositions … I had never thought of it on my own, but now I heard a melody every time I wobbled across those rocks! This is just one example of the kind of energy that was sparkling around me this summer, and I encourage you to visit the Rabbit Island blog to read about all the different projects that took place.

I spent my time making small plein air paintings, choosing my subjects based purely on a fascination with light and form. The warm sandstone bedrock of the island as it disappears under the deep turquoise waters crashing over it was a fun challenge for me to decipher. As a group, these paintings are a collection of intimate moments, each one exposing a piece of Rabbit Island’s character.  To me, they serve as windows through time, bringing me back to the moment I was painting in quiet meditation surrounded by waves, wind, rocks, and sky. Those afternoons spent in focused awareness were precious for their lack of distractions.  Even though we had cell service and I was able to use my phone daily, it was often out of commission with a dead battery. If I were to repeat this trip, I’d give myself a true digital detox and I might even give up the ability to take photos altogether, that way I’d be forced to use my drawing and writing skills to record my memories.

Exercising smart-phone restraint has been a popular topic of conversation around me this summer.  They are such powerful tools to connect us, and as an artist it is an invaluable way to promote my work and share the journey behind how I make it.  My instagram feed has allowed me to stay in touch with my friends and find inspiration in their adventurous lives.  Maintaining this sense of community has been a positive gain, but at times I feel overwhelmed by information and I struggle to find the presence I need to fully develop my thoughts. On the morning we were packing to leave the island and re-enter the outside world, I considered how I could simplify my life and bring more presence into my daily routine. I realized there were quite a few things I could live without – in material possessions, habits, and thoughts. So, in keeping with the “less is more” motto we had on Rabbit Island, I’ll be doing some spring cleaning this fall!

Some of my paintings from the trip:

and some photos to help tell the story!

New Paintings From Colorado and New Hampshire

Over the past six weeks I’ve been traveling and painting in some amazing places across the Rockies, Great Lakes, and New England.  It’s been a whirlwind tour and I’m excited to share some photos from the field.  There are quite a few new paintings and some good stories to share, so this will have to be spaced out over the next few posts. Stay tuned for more summer updates to follow.

Hunter Creek, oil on linen

Hunter Creek, 8″x12″,  oil on linen

For July 4th, I took a trip with my family to Aspen, Colorado.  It felt so good to be out in the Rockies again! Ever since my years spent traveling and living out west, Colorado has had a special place in my heart. Early morning trail runs through Aspen groves and fields of wildflowers … there’s nothing quite like it.  The days were hot and I sought refuge along Hunter Creek in the mountains above town. I became fascinated by the challenge of painting the elusive qualities of moving water… a theme that captured my imagination everywhere I went on my travels this year.

After Aspen, I had a 24 hour transition in NYC before jetting off to Jackson, NH for the Hudson River Fellowship.  This was my 5th summer as a fellow at this wonderful retreat, where I spent 4 days painting before my next adventure in northern Michigan as a resident artist on Rabbit Island.  More on that experience in my next post!  For now, here are a few paintings from my time at the Fellowship:

oil on linen

Lake in the Mountains, 12″x8″, oil on linen

Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird sussing out our options the morning after a big lightning storm.


Jamie Morren enjoying a quiet morning sketching on the river.

Ellis River, oil on linen

Ellis River, 12″x8″, oil on linen

Jackson Falls, oil on linen

Jackson Falls, 10″x8″,  oil on linen

River Study, oil on bookboard

River Study, 5″x6″, oil on bookboard

And with this I leave you, a parting shot. Until next time!

Summer: Episode I

Summer is upon us and I’m about to leave on more painting trips, so I thought it was about time to update the blog before another two months slip away.

In early June I went up to Vermont to begin making studies for a new commissioned project.  It’s a dream job and the perfect blast-off to a great summer: painting an incredible view across Lake Champlain of the Adirondack high peaks.  I began talking with the couple who own this property about a year ago.  They’ve been restoring an old summer lodge on the lake and wanted some custom made paintings that would fit the old-fashioned vibe of the place.  In April I made my first visit to see the land and talk about possibilities for the paintings.  We decided on two larger studio paintings as well as a series of smaller pieces to hang in the house.  Here are a few of the pieces I painted on location during the week I was up there.  I also made a series of careful drawings that will be useful in the studio painting process.  These loose color studies of the view across the lake help me remember what I was feeling and observing when I was there in the moment.  As I get further along with the studio paintings, I will share progress photos and talk about process on my blog.









Since I returned from Vermont, I’ve been working on composing the first studio painting for the commission.  There’s also been time to get out to enjoy some of the local beaches and escape the heat too!

NYHarbor from SandyHook

New York Harbor from Sandy Hook, 6″x10″ oil on canvas



Next up:  I’m looking forward to painting in Aspen, CO next week, then meeting up with the Hudson River Fellowship in Jackson NH before heading out to Michigan to paint at the Rabbit Island Artist Residency.

Three Shows in June

Man, time has been flying lately!  Tonight we celebrated the end of another year at the GCA.  It was a year ago that I finished my own studies there, and this is the first time in four years that I won’t spend the next three days on my knees scraping gunk off the floors as part of my work-study duties.  It’s been an incredible first year out on my own, I’ve grown and gained a lot of self-confidence and skill.  In the past few months my anxiety about survival has begun to subside and I’m having more fun with the challenges of this wild ride.  I feel surrounded by opportunity in NYC and my biggest concern is how to divide my energies efficiently so that I can make time for the most important thing: putting brush to canvas.  Tomorrow morning I’m heading north to spend a week painting in Vermont – I’ll be gathering plein air studies for a commissioned studio painting.  I crave these uninterrupted blocks of time when I can sink into the tranquility of nature.  I’ll try to get another blog post up with some thoughts on how that experience goes.  For now … here are some events I have to look forward to when I return from my little retreat:

June 1st: Rabbit Island Benefit Party and Silent Auction

Saturday, June 1st 981 Dean St, Brooklyn, NY.


This is Rabbit Island. 


Rabbit Island is a 90 acre wilderness island in Lake Superior which was preserved and then developed into a remote artist residency. Each summer the island hosts collaborations between artists, architects, writers, scientists and chefs and each winter they apply lessons learned to conservation and cultural projects on the mainland.


Red Hook Sunset #6, 4.5"x12" oil

I’ve donated this painting to the auction: Red Hook Sunset #6, 4.5″x12″ oil

Proceeds raised during the event via silent auction will be distributed amongst this year’s artists in residence program.

Rabbit Island Benefit raising money for two initiatives: Art & Land Conservation.

+ Silent Art Auction
+ Live Music by bluegrass trio, Morgan O’Kane
+ Food by Sweet Deliverance & Stumptown Coffee
+ Performance by modern dancer Giorgia Bovo
+ Guest Speaker TBD
+ Bonfire


June 8th “En Plein Air” at the Drawing Room Gallery, Cos Cob, CT

I have TEN paintings in this group show.  It will be up until August 8th, so if you’re in CT check it out!  Here is a painting (that will be in this show) I did when I was in the Cos Cob area a few weeks ago for Edward Minoff’s show opening at Cavalier:


Greenwich Point Park in Gray, oil on linen, 6″x10″

this one will also be in the show:


Red Hook Sunset #5, 4.5×12 oil on archival bookboard


June 15: Small Works Show at The Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, VT

This show is up until December 22!  The opening party on June 15th sounds fun – there will be a gypsy band playing – Caravan of Thieves.


Ball Mason 10"x12" oil on linen. (for sale at National Arts Club) Miatta, 8×10, oil on linen …. and  Ball Mason, 10×11, oil on linen will be in this show







SOLD! See what went at the studio sale

Last weekend’s studio sale was a huge success, thank you so much to all of you who bought paintings last weekend!  I am completely blown away by the response I got, and feeling very encouraged by your support.

Here’s what’s up next – it’s looking like another busy and fun summer full of painting adventures!

*Im teaching a workshop this weekend in Prospect Park Brooklyn where we will focus on careful studies of nature in the tradition of the Hudson River School Painters.

* I’m busy making some new paintings for a group show in Cos Cob, CT at the Drawing Room Gallery, the opening reception is in June 8th.

*  I’ll be exhibiting at the Bennington Center for the Arts in my home state of Vermont – June 15th is the opening reception

* I can’t wait to start on my next big studio painting project – a commission of a spectacular private view on Lake Champlain!  Looks like that project will occupy my month of June.

* I’m teaching another workshop at the Hudson River Fellowship July 21-24 in Jackson, NH.  Sign up through the GCA.

* This will be my 5th year as a fellow at the Hudson River Fellowship and I’m just as excited as always for our annual summer landscape painting retreat.  I was on the selection committee this year and the applicants we had were the strongest group ever.  I’m so excited to meet the new fellows who are accomplished academic artists coming from all over the world to follow in the footsteps of the Hudson River School Painters.  This annual experience has been the most defining influence on my work and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

Meanwhile, here’s a recap of the open studio last weekend:


I turned my studio into a little gallery – salon style!


talking with visitors

Below are the paintings that sold, either online, or at my studio.

Liberty Sunset

Liberty Sunset, 6″x8″ oil on linen

My first NYC plein air of the 2013 season!  Sunset from the Red Hook Pier. 5"x10"

Liberty Sunset # 1,  5″x11″ oil on archival bookboard


On the Saco River, 8″x10″, oil on linen


Mud Season in Vermont, 8″x10″ oil on linen



Desbarats Sunset, oil on paper, 7″x11″


Shoreline Study, 6″x8″, oil on linen


Morning After the Blizzard, 5″x11″, oil on archival bookboard


Warm Shelter, 6″x8″, oil on linen


Liberty Sunset #3, oil on linen, 6″x8″


Ranch Road, Sonoma. 7″x10″, oil on linen

to be in plein air exhibit 11/30

Highline Sunset, 5″x7″, oil on panel

Silver Lake, Storms, oil on panel, 6"x12"

Silver Lake, Storms, oil on panel, 6″x12″


Chocorua Sunset Study, 3.5″x10″, oil on panel


Study of Chocorua, pencil and sepia ink on paper, 9″x12″


Notes on Chocorua, 9″x12″, pencil and sepia ink on paper

Reminder: Spring Studio Sale This Weekend!


Liberty Sunset #3, oil on archival bookboard, 5″x11″, painted in Red Hook, Brooklyn last night!

Stop by my studio between 1-6 PM on Saturday and 1-5 PM on Sunday!  Here are a few new paintings that have been added to the collection since my last post.  Plein-air paintings like this are $7.00 per square inch.  Help me make space on my walls for new work to flourish!


April Showers, 5″x7″, oil on panel, painted in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens on 4/19/13


Liberty Sunset #2, 6″x8″, oil on linen, painted in Red Hook, Brooklyn, 4/19/13


Mud Season in Vermont, 8″x10″ oil on linen, painted in Ferrisburgh, VT on 4/8/13


My Father’s Forest, 8″x10″, oil on linen, painted in Bristol, Vermont, 4/11/13


Studio Map

A: my studio, 102 Montgomery St, Brooklyn, NY

B: Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – see the Cherry Blossom Festival going on all weekend!

C: the Brooklyn Museum of Art – see the Sargent Watercolor exhibit, the American Drawings exhibit, and El Anatsui