How To Solve Painting Problems

Solve These Important Painting Problems. Paint with confidence and see your paintings improve massively. (Updated 2016)
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  • Lectures 39
  • Length 4.5 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 3/2015 English

Course Description

What Painting Problems? Transform your painting with important skills and tweaks. These tips and skills will save you plenty of time and frustration.

Every subject we choose to paint offers certain challenges or problems to solve. This course will look at common problems and how I go about solving them so that you can take your oil painting to new levels.

This course builds on my previous course, Learn to Paint With Impact, by looking at specific problems faced by painters. I look at various landscape problems such as countryside, street scenes, seascapes, beaches and skies.

How to plan, prepare and complete a landscape painting that will leave you more confident for the next painting. All the skills you will learn can be taken forward to build up your painting ability and increase your enjoyment of painting.

What are the requirements?

  • A set of oil or acrylic paints, brushes, pencils and sketch pad
  • All materials required will be explained in detail

What am I going to get from this course?

  • plan, prepare and complete landscape paintings
  • use essential painting techniques
  • approach various landscape subjects with confidence
  • Solve typical and more advanced problems in landscape painting

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone wanting to learn landscape painting
  • In particular oil and acrylic mediums

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

This course consists of selected topics that pose common problems to beginner and even intermediate artists. However as we solve on problem we often learn other techniques that are helpful to solve other issues in our painting too. You can follow the course section by section or pick out sections that are relevant to you at the time.

All these topics have been part of my personal development as an artist and many other artists I teach. I hope that you will gain more knowledge that will help you in your art journey. Enjoy!

Section 2: Planning Your Painting Revisited

A preparation outline that can be adapted for your painting process.


A quick overview of how I like to prepare before any major painting. As you develop as an artist you will develop your own habits. Sometimes good and others not so much. We all need to revisit at our preparation over time as it can make a big difference in the end result.

Section 3: Composition Refresher

Although this course is not about all the technical issues of painting I thought it would be useful to include a refresher on composition. It is an important topic. This video is adapted from my course Learn To Paint With Impact. If you have seen it or are familiar with the basics of composition you can of course skip this lecture.

Section 4: Shapes & Values

An introduction to this important section. Masses and shapes make up every landscape painting. Learn to see these masses and you can paint almost any landscape with confidence in your own unique style.


Most good landscape paintings fall within four distinct values: lightest light, darkest dark and two mid values. There are also four distinct mass shapes in such a landscape. If you can identify these masses and values at the start it makes it easier for you to develop and refine the painting. Your painting will also have a convincing appearance. This video explains this idea further.


Paint for masses using acrylics in simple flat shapes. Keep four values distinct from each other. This will be the starting point for developing the basic landscape painting in oils.

Section 5: Developing Masses Painting Demo: Overberg Farm

In Part 1 we start to develop the mass shapes in oil paints. This video shows the sky and mountains. I am using smaller shapes, but still keeping them loose and suggestive rather than showing fine detail. A #6 bristle brush is a good size to use as it prevents me getting too fussy with the shapes. This is all about staying true to the idea of large shapes and distinct values.


In Part 2 we work in the darkest darks and foreground. I make the most of the value contrast between the dark treeline and the sunlit foreground. The color temperature between warm foreground and cooler darks ad interest and the illusion of depth to the painting. Most importantly shapes are still simple and strong.


In Part 3 I continue to develop the foreground. The edges, color temperature and textures are given attention. The essential value contrast between the trees and foreground is emphasised. See how four basic masses and values can produce a strong painting!


I conclude this demo with a few small changes to improve the composition. Then I look at the framed painting and give my views on whether the painting has worked out or not.

Section 6: Aerial Perspective

The rules of aerial perspective are explained. Also the difference between sunny days, overcast and how aerial perspective differs between land and sky.


Let's have a look at a practical example of assessing aerial perspective. See how to adjust color temperature and values to create convincing aerial perspective.


Part 2 of this demo on mixing color and adjusting value for convincing aerial perspective.

Section 7: Painting Trees

Paint the tree's character! Trees are an important part of most landscapes. Yet we tend to paint symbols of trees. This lesson seeks to solve this problem by getting us to see trees like artists.


How to see the character of a tree! Trees are important part of landscapes. Unfortunately we often paint symbols of trees without seeing the unique character of the tree. This lesson shows what we need to look for with examples of artists paintings.

Tree Painting Demo: Part 2

The finishing touches to the tree demo followed by a critique of the framed painting.

Section 8: Giving Impact to Photo References

The problem to solve: How to use photos in the studio without losing the energy and vitality of plein air painting? Often in the studio we can overwork a subject from photo references. This lesson gives you 10 steps to help avoid this common trap.

7 questions

A recap on how to improve paintings from photos.

Section 9: Add Life With Brushwork

How to avoid flat and uninteresting painting surfaces? Use distinct brushstrokes and generous amounts of paint. This section is about getting texture and lively brushwork to enhance the painting surface. Painting in the impressionist tradition is not just about creating an illusion. It is also about using the paint to add texture and interest in its own right.


This is a fun demo to simply show you how brushwork can be used to put down distinct color notes. You will also see how a generous amount of paint can be used. Each brushstroke leave a distinct mark in hue and in texture. Try not to go over the mark a second time to avoid making a flat surface unless necessary to correct an error. Certain areas can be flatter such as shadows provided that that the sunlit portions are kept nice and thick with texture.

Section 10: People In Landscape

My method for painting figures in a landscape setting.


We look at the most effective approach to painting figures outdoors. What is necessary to get a recognisable figure without overworking the subject. How to see light and use shapes, color and values to achieve this goal.


Often a landscape will benefit with having distant figures, These figures add interest, life and help with the overall story. But there are a few common problems to look out for.

(demo coming soon)


Now I will show you how I paint basic distant figures in a landscape. I will pay close attention to the warnings and tips in the previous lecture to show you how to avoid making those mistakes.

Section 11: The Most Important Element in Landscape Paintings

Often we overlook this part of the landscape and focus on some other object like a tree or building. The sky is however the biggest influence on the landscape. This lecture also looks at the most common error artists make when painting the sky.


A look at how getting the sky the incorrect value will make the landscape more difficult to paint.

Section 12: What Is That Color?

Is color mixing simply guesswork? In this lecture we look at how to isolate color notes so that we can mix them confidently.


A short video demo to show how I go about finding color notes by mixing hues.

Section 13: Shadow Color

This video demo covers a common problem I see when artists paint shadows. Although the value may be correct we must also adjust the color temperature too. With both of these issues correct we will have the correct shadow color.

Section 14: The Problem With Line & Pattern

Patterns and lines attract our eye, but we can fall into the trap making them too uniform and regular. The result is a stilted painting lacking variety. This series of lectures will show you how to be aware of this problem and correct it in good tme.


Let us have a look at a brief demo where we can make decisions to add variety when faced with lines and patterns in a scene.


I conclude this demonstration by looking at other examples of how to add variety in your painting. You can see the completed painting in the resources for this lecture.

Section 15: To Varnish or Not To Varnish?

I look at different types of varnish and the one I prefer to use. When to varnish and why and a few precautions are discussed.


I show my method for varnishing a small painting. I also discuss how to varnish a large painting easily.

Section 16: Second Half: Finding Your Art Spirit

Many artists struggle to find time for painting. Others want to start but for various reasons do not begin. This section looks at the time issue and ways to get past that block. We then look at making a start to your painting and making it a part of your creative lifestyle.


How to recognise what steals your time. How to free up time and stick to your painting time.


This lecture considers the reasons for creative block. I also have solutions to creative block that I can vouch for. Mostly creative block involves getting over a lack of inspiration. We can usually work through this problem with these tips.

Section 17: Conclusion

This concludes the course but not your art journey. I hope you enjoy your painting problem solving. Thank you for joining me on this course. Happy painting!

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Instructor Biography

Malcolm Dewey, Professional Artist

I am a professional artist with twenty years experience in painting mainly in oil, acrylic and watercolor mediums. I have studied art for most of my life and continue to develop my style of painting. I enjoy teaching art, which has led to me developing courses to help artists seeking to improve their work.

I follow a representational approach to subjects using a painterly or impressionistic style. Plein air painting is a favorite part of my approach to painting. I currently produce paintings for sale to collectors worldwide.

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