Ventura Land Trust Hosts Outdoor Painting Workshop | Culture & Leisure

Posted on June 23, 2022
| 5:39 p.m.

Harmon Canyon Preserve will provide inspiration for new and experienced artists

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“Three Hills”, an outdoor painting by Debra Holladay (Debra Holladay)

Ventura Land Trust will present an outdoor painting workshop, at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 9 at Harmon Canyon Preserve. California-based artists Debra Holladay, Laura Wambsgans, and Marian Fortunati will offer instruction to new and experienced artists on how to capture Harmon Canyon’s natural landscape through composition, form, color, and paint manipulation.

Participants will receive group and one-on-one instruction; and group discussion will allow painters to learn from each other. Ventura Land Trust staff will join the workshop to share elements of the natural and cultural history of Harmon Canyon Preserve.

Painting in the open air, the French expression for “en plein air”, is the act of leaving the walls of a studio and painting in the open air. Artists explore how to paint form and light, with its changing and ephemeral qualities, with portable paints and an easel.

“Painting en plein air allows me to focus and interact in real time to understand and learn about a place,” said Holladay, the workshop facilitator. “Experiencing light, color, sound, smell, temperature and touch magnifies and records my experience through painting.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of working outdoors is seeing things you’ve never noticed before, like the color of dry grass or a fleeting edge of neon where light bends or reflects .

“I hope to share this aspect of the vision and how to translate it into paint with workshop participants, in addition to a basic approach to turning a blank canvas into a paint.”

The workshop is $20 for Ventura Land Trust members; $30 for non-members. To register and view a list of suggested painting supplies, visit

Holladay works both in the studio and in the field. His paintings capture fleeting moments of the American experience. His passion for art and his sense of travel for the natural world led to a series of outdoor painting adventures at Lake Ediza in the Eastern Sierras, California’s gold rush country, the Valley from Yosemite, Joshua Tree National Park and the California Coast.

Holladay received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Central Oklahoma, followed by six years of study at the Art Students League of New York. She is an artist member of the California Art Club, co-founder of Studio2310 and a founding member of the PAC6 Painters.

His work is frequently included in thematic museum and gallery exhibitions and invitational exhibitions. Visit

Wambsgans began landscape oil painting 16 years ago after working as the general manager of a major recording studio and then as a sculptor for two decades. Studying with Scott Christensen and other landscape painters and painting daily, Wambsgans strives to capture the effect of light in the field, through color and paint quality.

Wambsgans’ work has been exhibited nationally in solo and group exhibitions, including at the Riverside Museum, Bakersfield Museum, Lancaster Museum, Ventura Museum, and Huntington Library.

In 2006, she directed Chasing Open Spaces, an environmental project painting the open spaces of the Santa Clarita Valley. The exposures generated by this project have contributed to the preservation of the Elsmere Canyon in Santa Clarita. Laura is a member of the California Art Club and a founding member of PAC6 Painters.

An award-winning artist, Fortunati considers herself “a lucky artist” because art has allowed her to discover more of the beauty of our world (and because her name, Fortunati, means “lucky” in Italian).

She is a contemporary California Impressionist who uses oil paints to create experiments with texture and color. His outdoor sketches often serve as references for larger studio work, but are also memories of places and adventures. She had a long career as a teacher and principal in Los Angeles.

Fortunati established a foundation in the Impressionist tradition of seeing and painting forms of light and color through the instruction of artists Ray Roberts, Frank Gardner, Matt Smith, Daniel Pinkham and master landscape and underwater artist David C. Gallup .

Fortunati’s work can be found in collections across the United States, Europe, China and Australia. She is an artist member of the California Art Club and a founding member of PAC6 Painters; she maintains affiliations with the American Impressionist Society and Oil Painters of America. To learn more, visit

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