When: 3 Saturdays and 1 Sunday — March 14, 21, 28 & 29

Time: 9:00 am - 11:30 am

Place: Emerge Gallery, 228 Main St, Saugerties, NY




In these classes we explore ways to start a painting and develop it through various techniques which establish a dialogue with the Unconscious—ground of spontaneity, realm of authentic expression. In the intuitive practice of gesture and improvised mark-making, we invite happy “accidents”, the unexpected “error.” With pleasure as our guide, we draw upon emotion, sense memory, observation. We leave intellect and preconceived ideas aside, we break old habits, gain new ground; the work deepens, takes on a life of its own. The emphasis is on transition and transformation, not finished product. It is a play between worlds, visible and invisible—physical, emotive and spiritual, whereby abstract images gain substance and depth. We work on large paper with tempera paint with brushes great big to small—and brushes that we make! Group discussion follows each class. The classes are sequential, as each builds upon the previous one within a cycle of four 3 hour sessions. This workshop is perfect for beginners as well as for seasoned artists who wish to break new ground in their work.




Born in New York City, Ellen McKay is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She continued her studies at Pratt Graphics Center and the School of Visual Arts, N. Y.,and the New York Academy of Art. Her paintings have been shown in group shows in regional galleries including Emerge Gallery, Saugerties, NY, Mark Gruber, New Paltz, NY, Carrie Haddad, Hudson and many others. Teaching experience includes watercolor classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, painting and drawing workshops in her studio and various other venues in upstate New York. After fourteen years of living in Argentina, she has now returned home to the Hudson River Valley. Ellen McKay’s art work is represented in private collections in the United States, Argentina and in Europe.




"The real value that this Seasoned Artist shared in her workshop was a deepened sense of learning to trust our own impulses in each moment of our work. I am still practicing that concept of personal acceptance on a daily basis."


— Judi Silvano, 2020


"Ellen’s was my first workshop in painting. Once we got started I knew I was in the right place. Our first exercise was to explore what we could do with a brush, an invitation to make swirls and stripes and little dabs with the bristles like bird tracks in the snow. Gone were my inhibitions, my life long belief I have no talent for art. Instead, I was an explorer with a new compass and a virgin island to explore, i.e. the blank paper on my table. From there, we followed the brush on a journey through further exercises and let the images emerge in our paintings emboldened by Ellen’s belief that if our subconscious is invited into our bodies and hands it will know what to do. I had a blast. I still couldn’t paint a passable cat or a dog, but what I did paint now hangs on my wall, a series of colorful creations that looks like my soul having fun. I couldn’t have spent those hours in her workshop doing anything better or more satisfying. Who knew I had it in me? Ellen, I’m sure."


— poet Will NIxon, 2019


“Gentle, generous and supportive, Ellen McKay is the idea guide for those who want to open to their own vital energies and let them flow out in the medium of paint. Her classes encourage experimentation, innovation and cooperation. Going in, I was not a painter; at the end of the series, all I want to do is paint!"


— Susan Murphy, 2018


“I’m constantly amazed at the depth of the process, not to mention the amazing paintings that come forth from somewhere... What is important for me is that the process, as Ellen teaches it, is a practice in standing in “don’t know” space, and then making a mark anyway. Listening to a deeper than usual sense of what comes next....not from the mind, but from a larger space altogether...and finding an unexpected harmony, as more marks come from the partnership of brush, paint, paper and Self.”


— Wendy Wolosoff-Hayes, 2018


“I had painted very little before taking these classes. I find these workshops bring into play what art really is, what it can be —much more than I expected! Ellen’s approach allows for ones’ thoughts, emotions and state of being to take form as art. The inner connection is instantaneous. I feel immediately fulfilled—there is something truly there within the first few brushstrokes. The way Ellen teaches allows for real freedom so that I feel, “I can do this! ” I had no idea there were so many worlds inside me.”


— Anne Blum 2018


"As a teacher myself, I know that Ellen is a very good teacher. I had never painted before this class. I learned not only the basics through Ellen’s ingenious approach but also methods to deepen the work via pure improvisation. We were guided by Ellen’s inspirational dialogue as we painted. This class changed the way I look at nature and at paintings. I now think about how I could express the beauty and drama of the natural world in painting and this has enriched my life enormously."


— Judy Lechner, poet & writer, Saugerties, NY



view samples above of student work and work by Ellen McKay created during this workshop 

"Experiments in Spontaneity: An Abstract Painting Workshop" registration


    Emerge Gallery & Art Space

    228A Main Street, Saugerties, NY  (845) 247-7515

    • Trip Advisor Social Icon
    • Yelp Social Icon
    • Instagram Social Icon
    • Facebook Clean
    • Twitter Clean