Capturing the Atmosphere

Learn techniques to paint atmosphere like a master!

Instructor: Dave Santillanes
Audience: Fine Art Painters
For Stage(s): Beginner, Aspiring, Emerging, Accomplished, Professional, Master
Medium: Does not focus on a specific medium

Not sure what stage you are? Visit our How It Works page for details.

Saturday, March 2, 2024
March 2 & 3
2 sessions, daily
9am – 5pm MST (includes 1-hour lunch break)


Note: Price in $USD

42 in stock

High School, University, and College students get 30% off!
See FAQs at the bottom of this page for details.

Course Description

This workshop is for all levels and will focus on creating depth in your paintings.

During the course we will be developing paintings in our studios using plein air studies and/or photos.

Artists will learn to analyze the information in their reference material – interpreting color and value relationships in order to create atmosphere. Along the way we’ll discover the many differences between how a camera and the human eye see a landscape.

Other elements of painting will also be covered including how to “design” a landscape and the importance of values, shapes and edges. There will be slide presentations, paint-along demonstrations and critiques – all from the comforts of your studio!

You will learn:

  • The secrets to adding depth to your paintings
  • How to re-analyze your reference material with plein air painting principles
  • Key differences between how a camera and the human eye sees a landscape
  • How to design a landscape, and discover the importance of values, shapes and edges.

“Dave is a master of atmosphere and depth in his beautiful landscapes, and I was so happy to find that he’s also an amazing teacher. He prepared a very informative digital presentation which I got so much out of, and he’s generous and articulate while doing a demo, or critiquing our work. I can honestly say I got so much information to apply to my own work after working with him for three days, and of course lots of laughter and fun!”
—Kathy Anderson, OPAM

“Dave Santillanes is adept at teaching to various experience levels at once. Whether just starting out, or a seasoned professional, you’ll learn plenty in one of his classes. I found his insights into creating atmosphere, mixing harmonious greys, and edge work particularly helpful. Dave is charismatic and knowledgeable…you
can’t go wrong studying with him.”
—Jane Hunt, OPA, AIS

“Thanks a million, Dave. As a former professor, I mean what I say regarding your extraordinary teaching ability and slide-shows (which require different, but overlapping skills). You make a lot of difficult concepts accessible”
—David Marsh

“Dave, Your Online Art Lessons are the best I have ever had. Priceless. My artwork has improved dramatically after only one month of studying with you.”
—Greg Baker

Supply List


Below is a recommended palette for Oil and Acrylic painters. At the very least you’ll want to include a large
tube of each of the primary colors plus White. I highly recommend a tube Gray and Transparent Red Oxide as well. Any professional grade will do.


  • Titanium White (large tube)
  • Ultramarine Blue*
  • Alizarin Crimson*
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium*
  • Cold Gray (Rembrandt)
  • Transparent Red Oxide


  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium OrangeCadmium Red
  • Viridian
  • Cerulean (Warm) Blue


  • Flats or Brights are recommended for the majority of the work.
  • Have a good range of sizes: 2,6,8,10,12 but make sure to include your BIG brushes (12 to 16s)!
  • Softer synthetic brushes for smoother panels and portrait linens.
  • Bristle Brushes for rougher Canvas.
  • If in doubt use a mix of both.


  • Canvas panels or smooth (oil primed or gessoed) panels are recommended.
  • Use whatever you are most comfortable with.
  • Estimate using 1 or 2 supports per day (2 day workshop = 2-4 supports)
  • Recommended sizes between 9×12 and 12×16.


  • Landscape Photos
  • Palette Knife – (preferably with a long angled edge for mixing paint – sometimes called a painting knife or scraper)
  • Paper Towels
  • Odorless Turpenoid or Gamsol and brush cleaning container (i.e. coffee can)
Instructor Bio
Dave Santillanes has been painting outdoors for more than 20 years, learning from his environment to become a nationally recognized landscape painter. His work has received numerous awards including the Grand Prize at the 9th Annual Plein Air Salon Competition and First Place in Landscape at the12th International ARC Salon. His work has also been featured in Plein Air Magazine, Art of the West and Southwest Art magazines. He is currently a member of Cowboy Artists of America and Plein Air Painters of America.


How many registrations are required for a course to start?

A minimum of 6 registrations are required.  If 6 registrations are not received by the time the course is 24 hours from starting, the course will be cancelled and all registrants will receive complete refunds.

What is the maximum number of people in a course?

This varies for each course.  The maximum number of registrations is decided by the instructor.

Can I get a refund?

Up until 72 hours before a course’s first session you can receive a complete refund. You can cancel your registration via the My Account portal, or by contacting [email protected].

After this time no refunds will be given (if you have extenuating circumstances you believe justify a refund, contact us at [email protected]).

Can I register for a course already in progress?

No. Once a course has started, no new registrations are accepted.

Where will my course be held?

All courses meet online over Zoom. You will need a device equipped with a camera and a microphone to fully participate. 

If you have not used Zoom before, learn about how to use it here.

If you don’t regularly use Zoom, we recommend you join your first session 10-15 minutes early in case your computer needs to install or update Zoom.

How do I join my course?

You will receive a welcome email from [email protected] when you register.  This email includes the Zoom link to join your course session.  You will also receive 24 hour and 2 hour reminder emails before each session, and each of these emails includes the Zoom link.  You can also access the Zoom link to join your course in your MastriusChat group.

Are the sessions recorded?

Yes, every session is recorded and are typically available 24 hours after a session ends.  All session recordings will remain available for the duration of the course, and for one month following the last session.  The recordings are viewable within the MastriusChat platform, and cannot be downloaded.

What if I miss a session?

You’ll be able to watch the session’s recording.  If you have questions the recording doesn’t address, you can ask them in the chat feed of your course’s private MastriusChat group.

What is MastriusChat?

MastriusChat is an online discussion platform.  You and your fellow course registrants will be assigned to a private MastriusChat group where you can connect and support eachother via the chat “feed”. Your group is also where you’ll access the session recordings. Other resources in your MastriusChat group include a link to join your course sessions, and a library your instructor can use to share resources.

What is a Navigator?

A Navigator is an artist who joins your course to ensure both instructor and registrants have an enjoyable experience. They support (as required) with technology, timekeeping, moderating questions, and between-session discussions on MastriusChat. The Navigator has also joined the course as participant, and just like you, they’re wanting to grow their skills and learn the material.

I’m not ready to register because I still have questions. Who do I contact?

We’d be happy to help! 

Reach out to us at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to support you.


High School, University, and College students get 30% off ANY course (non-member price).

To claim this discount:

  1. Use coupon code in checkout: student_30_off
  2. Complete your checkout
  3. 🚩Before your course starts, Mastrius Registrations will contact you and WILL REQUIRE info to verify your student status