The Focus of Our Efforts

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April 22 - 23, 2022, 9:00pm-4:00pm

$260/person 2-day workshop

Join OPA, NOAPS, and AIS Signature Artist James Swanson, who is known for his Dog Day Month painting series. This 2-day workshop will begin with the initial paintings design, move to the painting palette for the color mixing then a quick demo with a paint along, followed by a class critique. Lunch provided. A supply list will be provided prior to workshop. Mr. Swanson will also serve as a juror for our Juried Art Exhibit April 12 - May 19. Ages 18+ 


Originally from Beloit, WI Swanson sought to be a forest ranger, but found (in his words) he “was better at painting trees than identifying them”. He received his BFA from The Columbus College of Art and Design where he studied Illustration and later worked as an art director for ad agencies in Chicago, IL.  He created and illustrated posters, ads, books, magazine covers and animations. Clients included: Budweiser, Bud Light, ESPN, US Tennis Open, The USA Olympic Volleyball Team, The Belmont Stakes, McDonalds, Kraft, and Soap Box Derby. Swanson discovered his passion in Plein Air painting (painting outdoors) while painting with friends.


James Swanson is represented in galleries around the United States. He is a Signature Artist member of The National Oil & Acrylic Society, The American Impressionists Society, and The Oil Painters of America. He has received Best of Show Awards as well as the Quinquagenary Grand Prize in Painting at the 73rd Annual Wabash Valley Exhibition at the Swope Art Museum, which was later purchased by the Art Museum for their collection. 


In 2014 Swanson began “Dog Day Month” challenges to celebrate the life of his Golden Retriever Atticus. He paints an oil painting a day for one month using images sent to him by social media followers. Purchase proceeds are then donated to Paws Chicago. Learn more about this charitable endeavor at


James Swanson also regularly teaches classes and workshops and has reached international audiences online through Zoom. April 22 - 23, 2022 Art Barn School of Art will host a 2-day in-person workshop “K-9 Portraits with James Swanson”. Guest Artist Workshops at Art Barn are designed to help adult students improve specific skills in an immersive group environment plus provide opportunities for networking with artists from the community and other areas of the country. Additionally, these workshops provide access to teaching artists with international reputations to the local community.




May 14, 2022, 12:00pm-3:00pm

$85/person 1-day workshop

Join us for an afternoon of learning how to paint birds using watercolor. Peggy Macnamara is a celebrated watercolor artist who has served as Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History's Artist-in-Residence for 30 years. Macnamara has traveled with Field Museum scientists all over the world to paint nature and illustrate conservation efforts. She has published 4 books in collaboration with museum scientists through the University of Chicago Press. A supply list will be provided. Coffee and snacks included.  Ages 18+ 


Peggy received a BA in Art History from Manhattanville College and an MA in Art History from the University of Chicago in 1970. Peggy Macnamara has served as the Artist-in-Residence at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History since 1990, and as an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  A large collection of Peggy's Original Watercolor Paintings are on permanent display at the Field Museum. Her 6th book about Underwater Sea life and conservation efforts is due in 2021. Peggy's work is about the study of nature, by looking carefully at the entirety of nature she gathers a better understanding of form and color informing her work as an artist.




Sep. 29- Oct. 1, 2022, 9:00am-4:00pm

$375/person 3-day workshop

During this 3-day workshop, returning guest artist Ratindra Das, will provide demonstrations followed by guidance throughout the day. Watercolor landscapes will be broken down into deliberate designs.  Design elements and principles including composition, shape, value, movement, unity, and color will be addressed over the course of this workshop. Lunch will be provided each day. A supply list and assignments will be provided in advance. Ages 18+ 

Ratindra Das, a signature member of the  American Watercolor Society (AWS), Dolphin Fellow (DF), and National Watercolor Society. He attended the Academy of Arts in Chicago and studied with many nationally know artists. Ratindra just published his second book, “Watercolor-with an Eye for Design”. 


Ratindra Das is recipient of numerous awards including  eight in the American Watercolor Society. He was invited to exhibit in the 1st "Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolor Biennial Exhibition" and in the exhibition of " International  Watermedia Masters in Nanjing, China", "Taiwan World Watercolor Competition", Republic of China. He has been appointed as Honorary Member of the Jiangsu Watercolor Research Institute. A popular workshop instructor and frequent juror of shows and competitions, he has served as a selection juror for the American Watercolor Society and many other national exhibitions. Ratindra has conducted workshops and seminars throughout the US, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Singapore and China. 

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March 24-25, 2023, 9:00am-4:00pm

$370/person 2-day workshop

Colored pencil is the ideal medium for creating stunning art. Kristy Kutch is the author of two colored pencil techniques books and is featured in four instructional films. She is a positive, supportive instructor who welcomes students with all levels of experience. With an emphasis on floral art with waxy (non-watercolor) pencils, students will create paintings, as these works are aptly called, on white, colored, and varied surfaces. Kristy offers demonstrations, personal attention, and a wealth of information. An array of materials, such as paper, blenders and sample pencils, will also be given to participants. Welcome spring with a floral inspiration! Lunch provided. A suggested supply list will be provided.
 Ages 18+ 

Kristy is a graduate of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana with both bachelor's and master's degrees in education, as well as a life license in teaching. She has taught colored pencil and watercolor pencil workshops nationwide. She has been working with colored pencils since 1986 and enjoys portraying flowers, fruit, Lake Michigan beaches and the Indiana Dunes. Kristy has contributed to numerous publications, and is the author of three books, her newest book is The New Colored Pencil (Watson-Guptill Publications). Her newest book will be available for purchase during the workshop. 

Guest Artist Workshops are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit