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Building Blocks
Student Comments
"Thereís no
way your
paintings canít
improve after
this course"
"Iíve been painting on my own for a while and thought I was doing okay. Now that Iím taking this course I see so many things I can learn from that will make my work so much better. This is the stuff you canít get in art school anymore, sadly. Thereís no way your paintings canít improve after this course. Thatís how strongly I feel about it." ... Bob Akers., Crystal Lake, IL, United States

"...really superb"

"I find your courses really superb in two ways: first they are very complete and comprehensive, and second they go straight to the point, to the essentials. Both my wife and I paint and we both agree that these art instruction courses are one of the best sources of education for people who want to learn to paint in a direct or alla prima style" Bernado Martin, Alicante, Spain.

Erika is
her dream
"This course is truly well run, professionally handled -- and I can only echo the great comments of other students: I am glad, I enrolled in this course!! I got so much out of it already -- lots of explanations, areas to study up on, other artists to learn from. AND I am not at the end of the course, yet. I am getting more and more confident and bold enough to follow my dream -- to become a proficient and sensitive artist. Erika, USA, 2009
"...already noticed
in my work"
"In my opinion, your material is the best I have found. It builds the basics, from the ground up, recognizing that there are no short cuts.....Your course puts all the right info into one package, and even more important, it gives me an organized, building block way to get these things into my head, and I have already noticed an improvement in my work," George, USA
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Building Block: Form

Build solid looking objects with light.
What is included in the Form Building Block?
If you are doing portrait, figure, or still life work, form is the most important thing you need to know about. Even though you are using two-dimensional media, you need to be able to give objects the illusion of three dimensions. If your paintings do not have this quality, you need to work on form. There are many books on the market on form, however the information in these courses goes into the subject to a much deeper level than you will find elsewhere.

Much of the information you get in these courses was learned first hand from some of the greatest painters alive today. For example, you will learn the difference between true highlights and spectral highlights, and you will also learn that there is a lot more to form than just a light plane and a shadow plane.
Some of the things you will learn:
How to represent form using the two-value statement, the fastest way to create convincing form
How to represent the different planes of light and shade such as reflected lights, core shadows, highlights, central lights, and edge planes. Most books only talk about the basic three planes (light, shadow, and reflected light). You need much more than that to create convincing form
What color to paint the reflected lights
How do you represent the edge plane
What color to paint the highlights, and why you need to understand the difference between spectral highlights and true highlights
What happens to hue and saturation of colors on objects when light falls on them
What is the color of the cast shadow
How the color of the cast shadow changes as you move away from the object that casts the shadow
How do you deal with edges on a form
How does it work?
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  Academy membership costs $79 USD per month and gives you a private account on our system where you can access our lessons, assignments & online community. Access to the online campus means you can upload your assignments and share them with other students from across the world, as well as access to supplemental learning materials such as videos and examples. You can cancel your membership at any time.
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"The material is very well presented and easy to understand - no lengthy explanations but short and condensed paragraphs with a load of very valuable information. Along with plenty of illustrations, this makes it a fun and easy study."

What is included in each course unit?


Unit 1 - Two-Value Statement

One of the most important things to get right in a landscape, figure painting, or still life, is to get the basic light and shade patterns working for a realistic three dimensional painting. For each local color there is one pair of color spots that you need to get right. These are the two adjacent color spots created by light and shade on the object. The good news is that you only need to get a few of these relationships right to get a great painting. The bad news is that it takes a lot of work to get them just right!
This is because there are about a million potential combinations very least!. This 15 minute color study uses just a few light/shade color pairs: the hair, the shirt, and the legs and face. That is all that is needed to create a convincing illusion of form.
In this course you will learn:
  • how to represent form using the two-value statement - a critical stage in painting a form. In fact for many paintings, where the subject is in the middle distance, this is as far as you need to go to convey the illusion of a solid form
  • how to select a viewpoint for your painting that will maximize the illusion of form
  • how to use geometric solids to make sense of the complex forms of nature
  • how to use the squaring-off technique to make your rounded forms more convincing
  • the critical principle of general to specific
  • how light reveals form - the basics of light and shade

Unit 2 - Planes of the Light and Shade

Planes in light reflect their light into the shadow planes of adjacent objects. The reflected light is brightest on planes at right angles to the source of the reflected light. The hue of the reflected light depends on hue of the surface from which it is reflecting. In the still life painting below, look at the core shadow of the front orange, and notice the influence of the reflected light from the second orange.
You need this knowledge for any painting in which there are one or more dominant subjects in the painting, or where form is the key element of the painting such as in most still lifes or landscapes featuring a main tree or group or trees. Figures and portrait nearly always require this level of detail in their forms. This unit shows you how to further describe a form and make it a convincing three dimensional object by representing the different planes of the light and shade.
In this course you will learn:
  • reflected lights
  • core shadows
  • center lights
  • highlights, and
  • edge planes

Unit 3 - Hue Changes on Form

In this unit you will learn what happens to the hue and saturation of colors on objects when light falls on them. Mastering these effects produces paintings that have truly beautiful color and three dimensional objects. Complete mastery of these skills is what separates the great masters from good artists. You may have heard about rules such as cool light, warm shadows or vice versa. These rules are simplistic and do not give you the full picture.
You need to be especially careful when painting half tones. The color of the half tone plane is not less saturated than the color of the light and shade planes. It is easy to make these half tones too gray. When you blend any two colors, you end up with a less saturated color. This means that you must not blend the light and shadow colors to get your half tones. You must instead add a third color spot that is somewhere in between the light and shadow plane colors in terms of hue. This will maintain saturation in your half tones. In this still life painting, look at the blue flower closest to you. The left side is red violet, the right side is blue, and the tone between is blue violet.
This unit will help to clarify some of the more difficult aspects of this subject and make the rules much more clear.
In this course you will learn:
  • what happens to both the hue and saturation of colors when light falls across a form
  • how to deal with the color of half tones
  • how to deal with colored light sources - not just the two common sources such as yellow sunlight or north daylight. This is useful when you are dealing with effects such as sunsets, or unusual indoor lighting conditions
  • when to use color and when to use value to turn a form and make objects appear three dimensional, and why
  • a model, based on the Munsell color wheel, that you can use to predict hue and saturation changes for objects of any hue, under any lighting condition
Our comprehensive 4 year program of study
for all levels

The Painting Academy is designed to be both suitable for beginners and professionals alike. If you are serious about improving your painting skills, no matter your current level, and you want to become an excellent artist and you are looking for a comprehensive in-depth program of study that's expertly organized, then look no further. You will get immediate access to:
192 Lessons
340 Assignments
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