My Lessons | Focus on Composition | Supplemental Videos | Student Critiques

Focus on Composition

Giving our viewer a feast for the eye or perhaps an expression of our manifest existence is the task of an artist. There are so many subjects that offer up infinite variety and challenges to the artist. Our imaginations pale next to nature's variety and that makes things complicated! We have to choose, edit and compare. We have to simplify. There are some fundamental design principles that can help us to create strong, simple compositions consistently. This month’s lessons will focus on these principles to give us a great

Design Principles

I’ll share the one principle of design which can transform your paintings from the mundane to the spectacular! Use it and you’ll have success! Forget it and you’ll constantly struggle.

Using Photographs

Working from life is unquestionably the optimal way to work, but it’s not always possible. Weather, mobility, time constraints, among other things makes painting from life impractical some of the time. If we don’t use photo reference in these cases, we could miss out on an opportunity to paint something of great merit! This lesson will take you through my methods for avoiding the pitfalls of photo reference and how to get the most from them.

Thumbnails + Notans

I don't know of any art instructor that doesn't advocate some sort of preliminary sketch, thumbnail or notan. We should probably stop saying to ourselves, "oh, I can do it without a thumbnail", or "I should be able to do it without a thumbnail". Maybe we actually avoid them because we think we might have to draw! Or maybe we're just impatient. I don't know why they seem to be such an area of resistance for most of us. We would all make better paintings if we just got over it and did them! This lesson will get you hooked on thumbnails and help you improve your paintings in the process.


These videos will extend your understanding of the key concepts presented this month. Spend some time with these. Some of them are YouTube videos available to the public but they fit nicely with our study, so I wanted you to be aware of them and take a look.


[fvplayer src="#" width="657" height="370" splash="#"