Leslie Saeta Workshop

A few years ago, I took a palette knife workshop with Leslie Saeta, a wonderful artist & instructor from southern California.

This palette knife workshop was sponsored by the Debra Huse Gallery on Balboa Island, Newport Beach, California.  Most of the actual four day workshop was held in a large bright community room at an apartment complex in Newport Beach.  The complex included a well stocked gourmet deli offering great lunches.

There were only eight workshop participants.  I admit this made me a little nervous because I thought Leslie might be standing over my shoulder a bit.  I was right.  She did stand over my shoulder.  But I was wrong to be nervous.

As expected, Leslie was prompt and impeccably organized.  She supplied us with placards with our names and some positive affirmations.  She also gave each of us a beautiful brochure chock full of information ranging from her preferences of painting surfaces, palette knives, and personal palette colors to emphasis on values.

Each morning began with art marketing information followed by an awesome demo. 

Art marketing conversation
Typical morning demo
Leslie's palette
Lots of room - so nice

Leslie's painting

All of Leslie's demo paintings were consistently awesome.  How does she do that?

Leslie speaking about the importance of texture
Leslie had a couple of "repeat offenders" in the class, but the rest of us were new to palette knife painting.  You wanna talk about being out of your comfort zone!   

Our first paintings

Debra Huse and her husband treated our class to a Balboa Island harbor cruise at the end of the day.  I took lots of photos - of boats, of course.

Leslie second from right; me on the left end

Days two and three were more of the same:  new marketing information, spectacular demos, and lots of individual attention.  

We were presented with a photo reference of these red umbrellas. This one was not easy, but it isn't supposed to be easy, is it?

Students' work

It's getting easier

Students' work

My second boat painting - Leslie's choice of palette colors.

So here we are at the end of day three.  But then there's another bonus:  tonight we're off to the Debra Huse Gallery for the opening of Leslie's show.

The gallery on Balboa Island

It was tough getting photos of Leslie's work because there were so many people at the show.

Here's one.
Leslie is good at mingling

Well, even though Debra's husband was very generous with the beverages, I managed to roll out of bed on time the next morning to go to our final class at the marina.  Because it was raining in the morning, we painted inside.

It was a small, but cozy set up and we played musical easels. 

After lunch,  it stopped raining and we went outside to paint on our own.  And what did I catch Leslie doing?

Taking photos of boats, of course.

What did I learn?

1.  It's essential to get out of your comfort zone.  Rather than trying to impress the instructor or other students, get in there and learn how to play the scales.   The dividends always come.

2.  I learned to get comfortable using a limited palette.  Leslie told us she can mix almost every color in nature and that she has been able to understand color temperature better because she uses a limited palette.

3.  Pre-mixing colors allowed me to have a clue as to how harmonious the finished work would appear.  It also let me be more spontaneous in the application of paint.

4.  People write entire chapters on the importance of values and Leslie is no exception to stressing the seriousness of them.

5.  Mileage with the knife - there's no getting around it.  

6.  Pizza boxes make good temporary carriers for wet paintings.

Of course, I learned a whole lot more, but I'll leave the teaching to Leslie.
And what do I think of Leslie?  Well, she's a passionate artist with an easy smile.  She's fearless, has the patience of a saint when dealing with the occasional whiner (this includes me), and is inspirational beyond what I had hoped. 

For me, I learned a new skill, understand color and value better, and have become more confident and optimistic regarding my future in art. 
 I took away more from this workshop than any other I have attended.  

My only complaint:  I wanted just one more day.

Click to link to Leslie's blog.

Click to link to Leslie's radio show.


  1. Thank you for sharing. I am gearing up to take a workshop with Leslie and I AM SO EXCITED!

    Gee, it's only been FIVE years since I began listening to her podcast, Artists Helping Artists!

    Thank you, again!

  2. Angeline-Marie, you're welcome! I guarantee you will absolutely LOVE Leslie's workshop. It is worth every penny. Leslie is SO easy going; you will feel very comfortable with her. She really wants you to succeed with knife painting. My knife has been calling to me. Hope to get back to it in a couple of weeks. Have fun!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I love the palette knife and have taken 2 of her online courses. But, there is nothing like hands on instruction. That frog is amazing!!!