2019-20 Workshop Schedule  (Please fill out form below for inquiries)

NIHONGA: Then and Now

This workshop is a basic Nihonga (traditional Japanese mineral pigment painting) class. Students will make water-based paint and grounds from organic and inorganic matter like cured shells, minerals, soils, pine soot (sumi), indigo and cochineal with natural glue and plant binders.Traditional and new ecological Japanese pigments in varied colors and particle sizes will be explored through a traditional layering system on Kumohadamashi (especially strong washi paper made from hemp and mulberry) and wood panels. Metallic leafing and oxidation techniques will be covered, as well as traditional Japanese paper sizing and mounting. Emphasis will be on the creation of purposeful, multi-layered paintings stemming from ancient practices that embody the power to nurture the spirit. The works of traditional and contemporary Nihonga painters will be introduced through powerpoint presentations. Each student will receive a one-on-one session with the instructor as well as a final group critique. Traditional and abstract painters are welcome. Artists using any medium: potters, oil painters, printmakers, photographers, textile artists can all benefit from this workshop. All levels.

FAQ: How is this workshop different from the others? It focuses on traditional Japanese painting materials and layering methods- less on natural earth colors and mixed-media.

Abstract Alchemy- Black, White and Warm Metallics

In this course students will reinterpret nature’s deep imagery and essence employing matter from nature itself, within a limited palette. Paint, ink and home-made gesso will be made from inorganic and organic sources including pine soot, shells and earth minerals. Metallic leafing and alchemic oxidation techniques will be introduced for warmth and depth. These arcane processes have been employed for thousands of years on cave walls, scrolls and aboriginal works. A variety of painting and collage techniques will be covered to cultivate individualized expression in mixed-media. We will work on a variety of Eastern and Western papers as well as wood panels. Asian paper sizing, backing and mounting techniques will be covered. This meaningful, process-driven, ecological (non-toxic, water-based) work truly nurtures the heart and spirit. Abstractionists and realists at all skill levels are welcome. 

FAQ: How is this workshop different from the ECO-Paint workshop? Much of the alchemy in this class is derived from working on Asian papers with sumi inks and sizing liquids as well as metallic leafing and oxidation. We are collaging for mixed media work. We work primarily on Asian papers and learn several methods for sizing, mounting, backing the work. The work has more of an earth-toned limited palette using oxidation and sumi as our blacks. Self directed imagery. Smaller format for more intimate work.

ECO-Draw-Paint: Large-Scale Mindful Abstraction with Natural Pigments (NEW FOR 2019)

“This workshop was conceived during my 2018 Lake Logan experience. The environment was so remarkably inspiring and meditative: such a deep place to create and introspect. I knew that in 2019, this workshop would have to embrace its beauty from within."

Natural pigments have the powerful ability to mimic the splendor of nature when suspended in plant and animal-based binders. Remarkable visceral surfaces can be achieved through intensive layering processes that can rarely occur with traditional art mediums. In this ecological drawing/painting workshop, we will cover methods of expressive abstraction stemming from a spirit-mind-emotion connection, using the physicality of our bodies, while responding to our natural surrounding and collaborating with it as art material. We will work on both paper and panels with water-based paints and inks made from natural earth, plant and metallic pigments. Our supports will be sized and gessoed according to the instructor’s recipes that address levels of absorbency and viscosity in which to build subsequent layers. A limited palette and large-scale format will propel students to focus freely on unrestricted elements of design and composition. A variety of techniques and exercises will be introduced to elicit depth and growth on many levels. Our main goal of the week will be to create mindful, abstract work that successfully balances intention with chance and harmony with tension. Note: this is for new students as well as being a perfect level 2 class for those who have taken the Abstract Alchemy workshop.

FAQ: How is this workshop different from the Abstract Alchemy workshop? In this workshop we are primarily working on Western watercolor or drawing paper and panels- large format- using our bodies- no metallic leafing. Some incorporation of Asian papers but not the focus. We use metallic and mica pigments and colored earth pigments. Both workshops incorporate graphite powder and a variety of “whites”. More focus on design, composition, form, drawing. Exercises for loosening up and working large scale. We work on the floor and tables. If traveling from afar - option of putting multiple panels or paper works together.

Master Abstraction Workshop-in Residence at the Studios of MASS MoCA. 

This workshop is an opportunity to take your work to a deeper level with new considerations in a space conducive for growth. Includes your own studio at Mass MoCA (8 participants per session) where you work in your own medium of choice, accommodations, lunches, a welcome dinner, museum passes, one on one instruction, group critiques, morning meetings, material and resource discussions, optional time to visit nearby museums. It’s a very deep, immersive week.

August 26-30, 2019  (5 day- 10:00am- 3:00pm) Now registering! Only workshop in NYC!
Abstract Alchemy, Levels 1 and 2
NYC, NY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    contact- 92nd Street Y

September 3-6, 2019  (4 day 9:30-5:30) Now registering! Only workshop currently in the Midwest!
Abstract Alchemy, Level 1
Evanston, Illinois contact- Evanston Arts Center                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

October 16-22, 2019 (1 week) FULL
Master Abstraction Workshop in Residence- Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA- all lodging and some meals on premise
contact- judy@judithkruger.com

October 28- November 2, 2019  (4 1/2 day plus optional evenings) Now registering!
ECO-Painting- steeped in nature-Only workshop for large scale work- or multiple panels- More abstraction from nature covered.
Lake Logan Conference Center- Canton, NC - all lodging and all meals on premise contact- Cullowhee Arts    

May 14-19, 2020  (4 1/2 day)
Abstract Alchemy, Levels 1 and 2
Snow Hill, MD                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   contact-Cullowhee Arts  

June 25-28, 2020 (4 day, 2 evenings with visit to Judith Kruger Studio) Limited space- this fills fast
Nihonga: Then and Now, Wisdom House, Litchfield, CT- all lodging and most meals on premise
contact- judy@judithkruger.com for detailed registration letter

July 21-24, 2020 (4 days)
Abstract Alchemy Level 1 Telluride, CO
contact- Ahhaa School for the Arts

August 10-14  (4 1/2 day plus optional evenings)
ECO-Painting- in Nature with Nature as Inspiration and Material
Lake Logan Conference Center- Canton, NC - all lodging and all meals on premise contact- Cullowhee Arts    

October 7-13, 2020 (1 week) 8 Available spots
Master Abstraction Workshop in Residence- Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA- all lodging and some meals on premise
contact- judy@judithkruger.com for application

October 24-November 4, 2020 (12 nights) 14 Spots available SAVE THE DATE-more info coming soon. JAPAN- Traditional and Contemporary Art Trip with Judith Kruger Will send out emails for deposits in September 2019 to all interested people.

For more information, please fill out this form. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.

Name *
Which workshop are you interested in taking? *
Check your preferred date and location from options below


I recently did a week-long residency with Judith Kruger at Mass MoCA with a focus on abstraction. The planning, schedule and organization was top notch, communication was excellent and invoicing timely. During the residency I felt informed with short videos and letters, and the wealth if material knowledge (paints, binders, mediums, resources) Judith provided was worth the cost of the entire residency alone! During each studio visit I never felt rushed and each piece was examined and discussed in depth. Each critique was extremely valuable and my practice shifted in direction during that week. I highly recommend her! 

     Mari Skarp-Bogli, Visual Artist, Professor Hartford Art School, Tunis Community College, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Mari's website

I have been searching for a medium that would translate my imager for years, one that would combine the soft organic nature of western watercolors with the capacity for fine detail, but with more life, more vitality. Researching Nihonga led me to think it may work, and to Judith Kruger's 'Then and Now' Nihonga Workshop. I came through it with far more than I anticipated. 

With the hep of Judith, and her vast knowledge I found a rhythm with the class that allowed me to explore and play, but also to translate my work to a new medium with fluidity. The result was discovering a new way to communicate my work in a way that I had felt was not possible. The medium brings light and atmosphere to works that had felt flat and contained. Work that had seemed imprisoned in a two dimensional world was given a sense of vastness. I could tell that my work carried over to Nihonga would grow a life of its own. It has given me new eyes to see my work, new ideas, and a feeling that I have found a home for my current vision. Working with Judith has been a pleasure, she has an eye that allows her to see the heart of your work, to help you realize it, the knowledge of materials.

     Lisse Williams, Visual Artist, Ann Arbor, MI, Lisse's website

I not only learned so much more than what I expected from attending Judith’s workshop, but I also felt as though the experience answered many of the questions I have had in my studio practice through the last several years. Judith is a highly knowledgeable teacher who is willing to share her wisdom with her students. I appreciated her generosity with her time and expertise, and am grateful that I had this unique opportunity of learning alongside her and other students. Although the workshop is advertised as intro-level Nihonga, it is intensive and comprehensive, and appropriate for professional artists who have a clear sense of their style and craftsmanship.

      Yuko Oda, Visual Artist, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Yuko's website

I made contact with Judy online in 2013 while desparately looking for answers to a practice I had been working on, mostly experiments, which had a number of resemblances with Nihonga. I believe she was the teacher/mentor I was looking for all this while and feel fortunate that we crossed ways. It was almost a year of interactions, long distance critiques where she took time to understand my practice while patiently introducing me to the tenets of Nihonga. She was particularly encouraging to keep sanctity of ones own course. She not only helped me with unknotting a million doubts that I had in my newly discovered path, but also helped for a foundation to my art practice and opened many more avenues for explorations. In the Fall of 2014,  Judy was generous to invite me to her Nihonga workshop in Connecticut on a scholarship. It is a gesture that I will always owe to her, given my need at that point to be able to learn the art in person and to see her demonstrate. Judy has a vast knowledge about her subject and what I like most is that she is a person who loves to break the rules and follow her own path and encourage students to do the same. Her particular teaching that I will carry with me for a long time is that "in Art (as in life) there is no right or wrong, it's just cause and effect". Judy's deep concern for her students' well being and her passion to spread her learning with sincerity and honesty is something in her  that I highly respect. She is a beautiful addition to your art practice in case you want to learn about Nihonga, alchemy or are interested in delving into natural media. She is someone who will always hold a special position in my art practice and I owe her a lot of what I know as an artist today.

      Gunjan Kumar, Visual Artist, Chicago, IL, Gunjan's website

I attended one of Judith Kruger’s nihonga workshops to learn more about the medium. The weekend proved to be an unpressured environment for learning with plenty of time for discovery. Judith is a wealth of information, generous in her teaching and in sharing her own personal discoveries. She clearly demonstrated the use of materials and painting techniques. She helped me to learn and understand the finer points of the medium both artistically and technically. I am now equipped with a broader knowledge base of the fundamentals of nihonga and a foundation for further growth.

      Delro Rosco, Visual Artist, Hawai’i, Delro's website

Although Nihonga involves a technique which, no doubt, would require years of practice to master, in four days Judy lays down a thorough foundation. She explains the qualities and composition of the natural pigments, how to prepare the paint binder and the paper size, how to stretch and mount handmade paper, the application of silver leaf and how to oxidize it, painting techniques and much else. We were introduced to historical and contemporary masterpieces of Nihonga and the artists who painted them. And then, Judy gave each student a twenty minute consultation, advising how Nihonga techniques could be integrated into our personal art practices. We left with notes, painting samples and a head full of new ideas. My world feels more expansive having taken this workshop with Judith Kruger.

      P.C.Turczyn, Visual Artist, Brooklyn, NY (see her Nihonga-referenced art here) and website here

Taking Judith Kruger's Nihonga Painting Workshop was an absolutely fascinating and completely rewarding artistic experience! I have been painting and teaching at the university level for over twenty-five years, so I recognize the traits of a gifted inspired teacher. She was extremely generous with her wealth of knowledge, a great demonstrator, and covered a wide range of both technical and conceptual material. Judith has designed a unique workshop valuable to artists from any background. I know this great experience will continue to feed my painting ideas for years to come!

      Allison B. Cooke, Visual Artist/Professor, Milwaukee, WI, Allison's website

I took Judith Kruger's Nihonga workshop primarily as a way of letting the medium take me to a different place. I had been on a trajectory towards abstraction for sometime but needed the impetuous to travel into my unconscious to go into pure abstraction; Nihonga and Judy helped me get there. First, the extraordinary attention paid to process was in itself hypnotic, and then, with Judy's encouragement , the free association and transcendence. Since the Nihonga workshop I have gained the confidence to let go and explore the potential of my imagination. The simplicity and beauty of the Japanese artform paired with the complexity of the ancient medium, inspired me to go beyond the workshop to a new and exciting realm.

      Roni Sherman Ramos, Visual Artist, Brooklyn, NY, Roni's Website

For a number of years I have been admiring Japanese painting, always finding my way to it at museums. But it isn't solely the images that have caught my attention--though they are exquisite, as are the various color effects and the compositions--but the paint itself, the magnificent surface created by the minerals, inks, and metallics, is what led me to search the internet for a learning opportunity. I wasn't sure what I would do with nihonga personally; I simply wanted to learn enough technique to help me figure out an approach. Initially my search was unsuccessful, but I did have an opportunity to see an exhibition of work by Makoto Fujimura. Here was someone who was taking directions of his own, and the results were mesmerizing. Continuing my search for instruction, I eventually stumbled on Judith Kruger's website. Not only did her work speak to my own aesthetic sensibilities, but she was about to move to New England where she was planning to offer workshops. I attended one. I learned so much! And I do hope to work with her again soon.

      Theresa Couture, Visual Artist and University Gallery Director, Rivier University, Nashua, NH

Blog Post Savannah Nihonga Workshop Review by Julian Pena, Visual Artist, Tacoma, WA