workshops at firefly _____________________________________

Watercolor: Keep It
Simple and Strong
A 3-Day Workshop with Keiko Tanabe

When: July 19-21, 2021 - in person at The Firefly Artists, Northport, NY

Course Fee: $600. A $100 non-refundable deposit will be required for registration and to hold your spot. (If we are experienceing limitations because of Covid that do not allow us to hold the workshop, we of course will be refunding full deposits)

Level: All levels (basic knowledge & some previous experiences strongly recommended to benefit from this workshop)


Course Description: This workshop is designed for those who would like to gain a better understanding of methods and techniques to make a watercolor painting that is simple yet strong. The goal is to capture the essence of the subject that conveys a certain mood and atmosphere. The process of simplification begins with visualization. In representational art, this ability to see the end result of a painting, through the mind’s eye, is instrumental in realizing an artist’s vision.

Through sketches and step-by-step demonstrations, Keiko will show you how to take the initial inspiration, through the simplification process, to an expressive painting that is strong in composition and content. There will be an active question-and-answer session and critique on a daily basis.

Subject matters include landscape, cityscape, waterscape or interior, which will be demonstrated in a manner that is more representational and impressionistic rather than abstract. The areas of topic covered in this workshop include: a preliminary drawing and composition, a variety of techniques in paint application and brush handling, what makes a good design (color, shape, value, edge), dark & light, planning & intuition, and how to edit complex visual information.

Material list & Reference photos will be sent prior to the workshop.

Artist Biography: Keiko Tanabe, AWS, NWS. Often working en plein air, her atmospheric watercolors perfectly capture a sense of time and place. Through her use of color, textures, and signature brushwork, Keiko’s landscapes and cityscapes, beautifully convey both the exotic and the simple scenes of the many places she travels. Never attending art school, Keiko took only one drawing class to learn basic technical skills before she started painting in 2005. One year later, after learning basic drawing and watercolor painting skills at a local community school in San Diego, Keiko decided to paint full-time. From then on, she intensely taught herself to be fluent in watercolor painting, just as one would do to master a foreign language. Her subjects include landscape, cityscape, waterscape and interior scenes, which will be demonstrated in the workshop, using representational and impressionistic compositions. Since 2011, Keiko has completed successfully more than 300 workshops and numerous live demonstrations around the world.

Keiko Tanabe 3-Day Workshop
To hold your spot, you must pay a $100 deposit to hold your spot. Full registration is $600. Once we are closer to the workshop date, you will be sent an invoice via email for the $500 balance. You will also be supplied a list of materials or prep for the workshop. If for some reason we are unable to hold the workshop because of Covid restrictions, all registrants will be refunded their whole deposit. Otherwise, the deposit is unrefundable.

Register for the class and pay your $100 deposit by clicking on PAY NOW below.






Workshops Archives - Past Workshops

The Journey of Looking in
Watercolour and Pen with Ian Fennelly

(Image above is a view of Northport's Main Street from a previous Firefly Workshop with Award Winning Artist Teacher and Workshop Instructor Ian Fennelly)

Format: Zoom (live)

Level: Suitable for all levels of ability

Course Description: Join in on creative journeys with our new “Paint-Pal from Across the Pond” Artist, Teacher and Urban Sketcher, Ian Fennelly! Ian loves to tell the story of a busy place, noticing details we often take for granted. He guides us in looking at the visual features: The big shapes, the colours and tones, and noticing patterns that jump out. We then decide the focus -- what might go in and what might stay out. There is clever consideration of space and composition; how things like shapes, lines and the edges of the page relate. Then we get inside those shapes and start thinking about color: local color, emotional color, how best to apply it – and what to leave OUT! Application of brush pens adds tone and depth, and calms down the colours. Then it’s details, details, details: Pattern and textures, tending to the small stuff, reflecting on where we’ve been. It’s an experience; a journey with a friend. Come along!

Artist Biography: Ian Fennelly |

“My name is Ian Fennelly and I am an artist and more specifically an urban sketcher; or to be even more precise - I make art in a busy location while looking at buildings and street furniture.

I’ve always been drawn to the urban environment; where people interact with the busy spaces that surround them. I try and draw people without actually putting them in - partly because they never keep still. But I like drawing the spaces they’ve been in, or the cobbles they’ve walked on, and the windows they’ve looked through. I love location drawing as it enables me to record the experience of being in a busy place.

I generally begin with a painted wash to break up the space in front of me. This establishes the broad shapes of my composition. This is a very emotional part of the process as you are dealing with colour which affects us all in different ways. Watercolour paint is perfect for this part of the process as they soften easily and create a wonderful layering effect which enables me to build up tones and glazes of colour.

Then I work on top of the colour with brush pens which adds depth and tonal value to the image. Then I use liner makers to add the texture and detail. This is a big part of the creative journey as recording the detail of an urban scene really forces you to look and notice things. This brings in the very human element of simply being out on location and fully experiencing and enjoying the world around you.

Finally, if I am lucky, it will be complete. In between all this I'm constantly jumping around, bouncing up and down, nipping to the toilet or buying a coffee and cake. I tend not to sit still, so the angles can change. If a car or van parks up in front of me, the choice is to draw through it, or move around it – either way you have to get fully involved in the scene, both physically and imaginatively.

My urban sketches typically take around 2 – 3 hours to complete. I used to be a lot quicker but I notice things now. The more you look the more you see the more you understand.” 


Simple Fall Still-Life with Kathleen Giles

Level: Intermediate

Course Description: Kathleen will demonstrate how to add drama to your watercolor paintings by using value and color saturation. Working wet-into-wet and using her damp brush technique on wet and dry paper, she will explain how to make your paintings look more three dimensional. Hard and soft edges, composition and value will be stressed. Transparent versus opaque paints and when to use them will also be covered.

After registration, students will receive an email containing the photo reference, drawing and sizing instructions, the palette and supply list, and any necessary information.

Artist Biography: Kathleen S. Giles |

My art has become such an all-encompassing force in my life that I am always involved in some aspect of it. Painting, teaching or imagining a new composition, all keep me engaged and motivated. I use realism to grab the viewer’s attention and then invite them to further explore the scene I have created with carefully placed details. My paintings capture a moment in time. I hope to elicit an emotional response from the viewer that will ensure my work is remembered.”

Kathleen is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, American Women Artists, the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society, the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society and is a member of the Watercolor USA Honor Society and the International Guild of Realism.

The artist is an award winning artist, teacher and workshop instructor and has been painting in watercolor for more than twenty five years. Her realistic and sensitive portrayal of everyday life has won her many awards around the country. ”Vanity” received the first place purchase award in the 2019 National Watercolor Society show and First place in the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society 2020online show. Her painting “Meat and Potatoes Man” won first place in the portrait category of the international group Global Association of Watercolor Artists. The painting “Sarah” won Best of Show in the Pittsburg Watercolor Society’s national show in 2018. “Queen of Hearts” won first place in the Watercolor USA show at the Springfield Museum in the spring of 2018. “My Oarsman” won the Trails and Streams Medallion for Woodland Theme in the 2018 Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors. Kathleen had an eight page article published in the Watercolor Artist Magazine’s April 2020 issue and another in the February 2017 issue. Her work was featured in the French magazine Pratique des Arts twice in 2017. She also had an article published in the International Artists Magazine Dec/Jan 2014/2015 issue and her painting was featured on the cover.

Kathleen maintains a studio and gallery in her home in Western New York State and teaches workshops around the country and online.

*Artwork above is a sample of the instructor artist’s work and style. It does not necessarily depict the image that will be created during the workshop.


Landscape Watercolor with Andy Evansen

Course Description: Watercolor is a difficult medium, in part because of the lack of opportunities to change/fix things once you begin painting. If you approach your painting without a good idea of how you're going to tackle each stage, it will lead to indecisiveness and often a timid, overworked watercolor.
I teach a value study-to-color method that encourages finding large shapes and helps with planning, composition, and lost edges, which are so important in watercolor. In this 3 hour class, we will work on two scenes together (I provide photo references), with you following my steps as I break it down first with Paynes Gray and then moving to color.

Artist Biography: Andy Evansen |

Andy Evansen’s career in art started as a medical illustrator in Minneapolis, creating artwork for medical device companies, textbooks and surgeons. Once that industry became dependent on digital art, he longed for a return to fine art and began watercolor painting.

Choosing a ‘style’ was not difficult, as Andy was always inspired by the representational yet impressionistic watercolor paintings of British artists Trevor Chamberlain, David Curtis, and Ed Seago among others. He found himself attempting to capture the landscape with the same economy of brushstroke, taking advantage of the luminosity of watercolors done in just a few washes. In addition, he was impressed with the way those artists seemed to capture everyday scenes in such a way that revealed a hidden beauty, subjects that many would simply pass by. This appealed to Andy as he grew up in the rural Midwest of the United States, far from the large, bustling cities of the east coast or the drama of the Pacific on the west coast. His familiarity and love of simple farm scenes and small towns is evident in his work today.

Andy’s work gained recognition after winning an international watercolor competition through American Artist magazine, appearing on their cover in 2005. He’s been featured in numerous other publications since, and has become a sought-after workshop instructor who paints and teaches internationally. He became a signature member of the prestigious Plein Air Painters of America (PAPA) in 2012 and was elected their President in 2015.

His paintings have won numerous awards, including the Bronze Medal of Honor at the 2012 American Watercolor Society Exhibition, and in 2015 he received the High Winds Medal and his signature status from the American Watercolor Society. He is also a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and the Transparent Watercolor Society.

His work was recently selected for inclusion in the California Art Club’s Gold Medal Exhibition in 2020.

His love of painting on location also led to him being a featured presenter at the 2014 and 2016 Plein Air Conventions and inclusion in the 2017 Qingdao International Masters Watercolor Plein Air Event.

Andy has been asked to jury several exhibitions, including the Hoosier Salon in 2016 and the New England Watercolor Society, Philadelphia Watercolor Society and Red River Watercolor Society National Exhibitions in 2017.

*Artwork above is a sample of the instructor artist’s work and style. It does not necessarily depict the image that will be created during the workshop.


The Journey of Looking in
Watercolour and Pen with Ian Fennelly

When: Friday, Jan 15th from 10:00am - 3:00pm (w/ 1/2 hour break)

Course Fee: $80 per person

Format: Zoom (live)

Level: Suitable for all levels of ability

Course Description: Embark on a creative journey painting our own beloved Village of Northport with Artist, Teacher and Urban Sketcher, Ian Fennelly, who loves to record the experience of being in a busy place. Ian will guide you in looking at the visual features: The big shapes, the colours and tones, and noticing any patterns that jump out. You’ll then decide on the focus -- what might go in and what might stay out. There will be a clever consideration of space and composition; how things like the shapes, the lines and the edge of the page relate. Then it’s time to get inside those shapes; to start to think about color: Local color, emotional color, how best to apply it – and what to leave OUT! Application of brush pens will add tone and depth to the composition, and calm down the colours. Then it’s details, details, details: Pattern and textures, tending to the small stuff, reflecting on where we’ve been. This creative journey, like any process, can be adapted. We may return to painting at the end. We may also have a break in between.






Located on the second floor of our gallery, the Darcy Arts Center is home to special art shows, juried exhibitions and our art education initiatives. Our art classes and workshops feature talented local instructors as well as world renowned visiting artists.

As we begin to schedule in person workshops at our Darcy Arts Center on our second floor, we will continue to offer some of our workshops virtually via Zoom.

Keep checking back soon for some great workshops!




















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