Lewis Art Williams: Painting The Desert By Bike!


Painting The Desert By Bike!

“Painting The Desert By Bike!” 3-Day Workshop
This workshop will have two parallel purposes; first, to encourage and assist you in developing confidence and ability in biking to places you would like to paint in plein air and second, improving your plein air painting experience and success when you get there! To this end, I am requiring all student to be an intermediate level artist in their media of choice to facilitate a better experience for you in the limited time available in this workshop. On the biking side you should be a person who wants to combine improved health with creative activity, loves their bike, wants to use it more, is familiar and comfortable on it and can do a minor repair such as fixing a flat (the instructor will always offer to assist!).
Students should contact me with any questions regarding the bike or art part of this workshop. You must have your own bike! None will be provided by me or the School. You should not be new to bike riding for this workshop! We will be riding pavement and good dirt and gravel roads (nothing too challenging). A gravel or hybrid bike would be best, a mountain bike would be very good and a touring bike could be functional, but more of a challenge off pavement with the skinny tires.
Each day will be split between morning classroom time and plein air time. We will spend 6.5 hours each day together for the workshop, starting promptly at 9am and finishing at 4:30 pm with an hour additionally for lunch. We will ride out from the School each day and return to the school. We have an abundance of options for painting locales, from mountains, desert and water sites (lakes and rivers). Also there are several interesting historical sites to explore. More info on these will be available when destinations are finalized. The daily riding distance will be no more than 10 miles out and 10 back (20 miles or less for daily total). Your level of physical health should be commensurate with this level of exertion!
When we ride, all your art related materials including boxes\easels\tripods\surfaces, etc… will be carried on your bike. Rain gear, extra shoes (if wanting to change from bike shoes to paint) lunch, water and other hydrating fluids (VERY important), hat, sunscreen, bug spray all should be with you. To this end you will need bike bags\panniers and\or a bike trailer to carry this gear. I use both, with the panniers when I want to carry smaller\lighter gear or I want a more narrow riding profile when the roads don’t have a comfortably wide shoulder, and I love my bike trailer when I want to, and feel safe with, carrying more gear. A spare inner tube that fits your tire and a fix a flat kit is important. A back-up tire would also be very helpful. A bike pump and/or compressed air container is the only way to get air into a tire! This sounds like a lot but if you plan ahead (especially with the art equipment) all fits nicely without too much weight. I will work with you on these choices when you look into the workshop.
On the bike, SAFETY is first (live to paint another day!). You will need helmet, gloves, bike lights that can be seen DURING the daylight hours on the front and back of the bike, a rearview mirror to see what’s going on behind you, a riding vest and\or bright clothes so you can be seen and comfortable riding clothes, especially padded riding short and something warmer (wind breaker\sweater, etc…) in case the weather changes on us.
We will have a support van following us where we travel. We will have extra water, your\my coolers, extra food, repair items, tools, pump and a shade structure. You may use this for extra items, but my purpose in this workshop is to help you become INDEPENDENT, confident artists on your bike travels! The van\ trailer are also available if more serious bike breakdowns occur. Your bike can be transported and you can still arrive at the painting locations. Occasionally, cold, adult style beverages have accidentally found their way into the coolers, and have been known to help some artists regain strength during lunch breaks.
On the art side of the workshop, my mission is to meet you on your current art path and honor it , give you immediate feedback while you are creating from subject matter that you have chosen and which is important to you. I want you to know your overall purpose for making art en plein air, and then specifically on each new work, “Why THIS piece?!” I will encourage you to see the importance of your roll in protecting and championing the wonders in creation that you want others to see in your art! I will offer suggestions and techniques I have learned and been led to over more than forty years of creative activity. I want you to find your uniqueness. The world doesn’t need another me making art, it needs the best YOU! Although I will be offering many tidbits and artistic insights in my daily demos, these are just seeds I scatter, and if you find a few of interest, put them in your ‘bag of tricks. Bring the media you want to focus on in your immediate future. I am experienced in oil and acrylic painting, pastels and other drawing media, and with watercolor and gouache. As our time is limited, I will be focusing on oil and acrylic painting in my daily demonstrations. If you are uncertain what to bring, I would suggest these for the direct connection with my work, but I will enjoy speaking with you all as you work in your preferred media, and I will suggest, assist and hopefully inspire you on your path to greater heights!
WORKSHOP AGENDA: “Painting The Desert By Bike!” 3-Day Workshop
Day 1: Class starts promptly at 9am! I will be there setting up much earlier. I thought it would be good to gather at 8:30am to hit some coffee and donuts (that I will provide) and get to visit a bit before we get started. At 9am, we will cover further introductory topics, review bikes, equipment and packing to make sure we are set for the day. I will have materials that work well for biking and art, and students will have opportunities to purchase these for affordable prices. The demo will cover underpainting techniques in oil and acrylic, subtractive wiping out tools (removing paint) and why this can be exciting (in creating lights and darks {values} and open new possibilities. We will also cover how to safely transport our ’works in progress’ from the painting site to ‘home.’ We will have lunch at the classroom (won’t have to carry it on the bike- just snacks!). We will bike to our destination, work in plein air to make our art, have a constructive and helpful review of our work on site and return by 4:30pm.
Day 2: Meet at classroom at 9am sharp! Discuss the days’ schedule. I will offer a demo building on the previous days underpainting. We will talk better compositions, focusing on no more than 5 large shapes, values and brushwork. We will jump on our ‘wheeled horses’ and head out about 10:30 am to our destination, eat lunch and work in plein air through the afternoon, review the days output and arrive back to the classroom by 4:30pm.

Day3: Our Final Day! Meet at the classroom at 9am. We will discuss the days’ agenda, get on our bike earlier and start our ride by 9:45am. This will be our longest ride of the workshop. We will set up, I will offer a demo at the plein air site to show how\why I ‘re-install’ a drawing near the completion of a painting. We will eat lunch, create beauty in our work, discuss the days’ work, share insights we have gained these 3 days, and return to the classroom by 4:30pm. Farewells and, for anyone who would like, we could eat dinner out together after cleaning up!

Skill Level Required


About Lewis Art Williams

Lewis Art Williams has been enamored with the acts of creating art for over 40 years. He works in a wide variety of mediums, including oil and acrylic paints, and pastels. A move to the Desert Southwest in his teens was life changing and he continues to be overwhelmed with the beauty he encounters in nature. The presentation of earth’s cycle of wonder and his souls response in awe, wonder, surprise and gratefulness has asked of him only one act in response; honor the gift! That summarizes the purpose and motivation behind all his art.
To honor the subject of his inspiration, he seeks the truth of the place, filtered through his art sense. Atmosphere, color and composition are vital to this, as are energy and capture of that sense of place. An underpainting is rapidly applied, then, a subtractive wiping out with multiple tools, creating an innervative sub-structure upon which the painting develops. Near the end, he, ‘re-establishes’ a linear focus (drawing back into the painting) to describe edges, increasing contrast and detail that he believes ‘cleans up his world!”
He is experienced in teaching art to a broad spectrum of students, including very young and elderly, and those with special needs. He spent 4.5 years developing and teaching Fine Arts Programs to Senior Citizens at 3 separate PACE facilities. He has received numerous awards at many Plein Air events since beginning competition in 2011. He also has much experience teaching workshops and demonstrating painting techniques at these events. The year 2004-05, he taught art at St Michaels Indian School outside Window Rock, Capitol of the Navajo Reservation. He co-taught, “The Science and Art Behind Fall Colors,’ class at Walking Mountains Science Center, Near Vail, Co., October, 2021. He has had much success at being awarded multiple Artist in Residence Programs: 2013 at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado; 2015 Black Rock Desert\Immigrant Trails National Monument in Nevada; 2016 Re-Imagine Montana Event- Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana; 2018 Escalante\Grand Staircase National Monument, Utah and Zion National Park Plein Air Invitational, Utah. His work has been featured in “Illuminations,” Artist Spotlights in Western Art and Architecture Magazine; Western Art Collector Magazine (State Of Art: Utah); Plein Air Magazine and an assortment of others.
He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Northern Arizona University 1983 and a Master of Fine Arts degree, Utah State University, 1991. He experienced a 4 yr. apprenticeship (1999-2003) with world renowned iconographer Br. Robert Lentz, O.F.M.
On the eve of his 60th birthday, a powerful idea came to him as he re-evaluated his life and the status of his art career. This became the 4700 mile, “Paint My Way ‘Cross The USA-By Bike!” epic, where he decided to ‘rattle his cage,’ to see what fell out for his ‘second half’ of life! He and his wife (who he somehow convinced to join him!) left San Diego, Ca. March 1, 2021, following the Old Spanish Trail to Santa Fe, NM, then The Santa Fe Trail, on its’ Bicentennial, to its origin in Franklin, Missouri, creating art daily as they cycled the country. The route from there was more free-form, across the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, up to Wisconsin, but blocked by Covid from entering Canada, along the bottom rung of the Great Lakes from Michigan to Ontario, Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks, Vermont and New Hampshire till its completion in Bar Harbor, Maine August 1, 2021. Pretty awesome adventure! I would love to get you excited about biking and painting Plein Air!

Learn more about Lewis Art Williams

on his website: 

“Lewis is a very good teacher and a real pleasure to work with. I think I learned more from him than I did from any other art class. In those classes, the teacher would just pick up the brush and paint on my work to ‘fix it’ without asking. Lewis never did that, but would suggest other approaches on a separate surface and I re-worked mine myself!”


“Lewis is a fabulous artist and teacher. He offered great techniques to help me improve my art. He was able to assist students of varied levels and those working in different mediums and still take time and patience with beginners. I think he could help anyone learn and do better in art!”


” I did a lot of art when I was younger, but an ex-husband ruined art for me, and I never thought I would return. When I started classes with Lewis, he was able to rekindle my art back to life. His teaching style is wonderful, going to each student without missing a step! His suggestions were always positive, helping us choose options for more success. As we improved, he got us to the point we were confident to enter shows and we were winners!”


” I Thought I’d never return to the art I used to love so much. I took a chance on Lewis’s class and with his support I got my love back! He was always honest with the feedback, but very positive so that we felt we could work on things to make them better. I got such confidence, I started trying all kinds of new things, winning contest and even getting to the point I could teach pour art to others. My art is such a big part of my life now! “



4 Calle Iglesias, Tubac, AZ 85646

PO Box 5112, Tubac, AZ 85646