Learn to Paint With Impact

From ordinary to stunning paintings! What makes a painting stand out from the rest? Learn how to add impact to your art.
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  • Lectures 85
  • Length 7 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 4/2014 English

Course Description

This course is designed to fill in the gaps left by conventional art instruction. We all want our paintings to stand out. To express our feelings or catch the eye of a collector. What is it that makes a painting move from ordinary to stunning?

The secret is learning how to see like an artist. No matter what your subject the basic foundation for color, value, edges and shapes needs to be in place. I take this further with extensive video demonstrations that give you the confidence to try yourself.

Challenging and fun assignments with demonstrations will help you put theory into practice. In this course you will learn by doing - the best way! Supplemented with over 200 pages of notes, video, slideshows and full demonstrations you will be able to take your painting to higher levels quickly and confidently.

This course will give you the confidence and direction to paint with impact.

(Course Updated October.2016)

What are the requirements?

  • Paints: (oils, acrylic or watercolor) titanium white, cadmium red light, cadmium yellow light and ultramarine blue. Size 6 and 8 flat brushes. A painting knife. Palette. Sketch pad and black felt tip marker - wedge shape tip. Grey marker optional. Pencils: 2B and 6B. Painting panels: size 6 x 8" or 10 x 12"
  • A passion for painting!

What am I going to get from this course?

  • This course will show you how to assess a subject like an artist. Compose and paint a subject with confidence for maximum impact.
  • You will know how to mix colors to the correct value.
  • Why edges are so important.
  • How to use brushwork effectively.
  • Apply this system to studio and plein air painting.

Who is the target audience?

  • Beginners and intermediate

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

Thank you for joining this course. I do appreciate your involvement and I know that ou will gain from this experience.


An overview of the course and what you will be covering.

Section 2: Your Painting Materials

Module 2 gives you more details about useful art materials that you can use on this course. Watch the video for details of the core materials required. Please also read the supplementary material for more information on your materials.


Canvas lined panels are easy to make and provide an excellent surface to paint on. These panels have the benefits of canvas, but are stronger and convenient to take with you on plein air painting trips. This brief demo shows you how to make your panels and prime them.


How to prepare your painting surface is very important. You painting experience as well as the future of the painting itself depend on good priming.This video explains how to prime the painting surface before you begin painting on it. .


Stretched canvasses are a good option for larger paintings. Panels can be too heavy, for instance, so a canvas gives a lighter option with a good surface to paint on. Here are a few options when purchasing canvasses. As always you get what you pay for so try for good quality canvas.


Want to learn how to stretch your own canvas? It is not too difficult and is a rewarding exercise if you enjoy a bit of DIY.

Section 3: Your Studio Set-Up

Setting up your studio where you can work in peace is a priority. This lecture is about finding that haven of creativity. I also show you my painting space.

Please download the supplementary notes for more about creating a working studio.

Section 4: Use Shapes and Values for Impact

Why is this section on shapes so important? I give a brief introduction to this section.


An outline to the section plus materials required.


This lecture explains how you can measure values using the Munsell value scale. By comparing color spots on your subject to the value scale you can identify the correct value of the color. This makes mixing accurate color simpler. Values are one of the keys to painting with impact.

Download the value scale below, print it out and stick it onto card. You will then have your own value scale to use during this course.

Introduction to Notan Paintings

How to assess shapes in the confusion of a scene? This video shows ways to simplify the process.


Assignment 1

1 page

Assignment 2 is all about three value notan painting. This is the most common notan study used by artists so make it part of your process.


The Next step in learning to simplify a scene into shapes and values is the outline study. More shapes and a fourth middle value come into play.


We go beyond the notan study to select more shapes and values. From outline to painting a four value monochrome study.


Do an outline study to practice identifying more shapes and values.


Another step up! This time you are going to paint a four value study. First in monochrome then in color. A few more shapes and values in the color study too. Now you can see values and shapes AND mix the color to match.

2 pages

Try your monochrome color value painting based on your outline study.


Now try mixing paint in color to match the values. Paint a color outline study to gain confidence in matching color and value. You can add more shapes and value in this study, but not too many. Simplicity adds impact.

2 pages

Try your own color value painting based on your outline drawing.

Section 5: Color and Light

An overview of the upcoming lectures on color.


What is color? This lecture starts this discussion by looking at the three qualities that make up color. Then we look at relationships between colors using these qualities to help us. A technical topic that will become clearer when you get into your assignments.


Color relationships are important for adding immediate impact to your painting. We look at various color relationships, with examples, and how they can be applied.


Color mixing from the primary colors can seem daunting to say the least. But it can be simple if you practice it regularly. Color mixing will save you money and make you a better painter more quickly. The ability to mix your colors instinctively plus adjust for value and saturation is an essential skill. This video shows how you can mix your landscape colors easily. Practice mixing these colors over several days until you are comfortable with the basic steps.

Section 6: Advanced Color

In this lecture I take a brief look at the sources of light, reflections and the nature of shade.


This lecture looks at the difference between local color and observed color. How to use a color finder and are shadows always cool in temperature?


This demo video shows how to start your painting with the shadow and light shapes. This is part of making a good start to your painting to simplify the major shapes into light and shadow color ranges.

PRO TIP: Practice making a start. Do this over and over with different references on small painting panels or even primed water color paper. Getting a confident start does a lot for your confidence and the painting's success.


Color Notes placed correctly bring the "music" to your painting. You can prepare color notes accurately using a color map to get correct mixes for tricky colors.

Assignment 6: Color Maps

The assignments continue in the Assignments Section below. For now lets go onto other important topics before completing the remaining assignments. Alternatively if you are a roll and want to press on with assignments then go for it.

Section 7: How to Paint Edges for Impact

Why are edges so important? How can we manipulate edges for impact?


We look at edges used in a painting and discuss why those edges were used.


A brief demonstration of typical edges that you can use in your paintings.

Section 8: The Four Keys to Paintings With Impact
9 pages

A summary of the four key elements that will give your painting immediate impact. Also download the 4 Keys Poster to keep handy in your studio.


Feeling overwhelmed? Focus on this one skill as it is the most important pillar to learn right now.


Now lets us see how we can carry over that notan to a painting so that we make a great start.

Section 9: Design Your Painting for Impact

What are the key elements of composition? Keep distracting elements out of the painting and keep the viewer's eye within the painting as long as possible.


Classic composition do's and don'ts


Composition is important, but by following a few basic rules and using structure your composition will have impact.


When faced with a landscape scene you may find yourself wondering what to do with all that information. Maybe you freeze up and revert to painting everything. 


Let us have a look at a landscape scene with lots going on. Plenty of potential, but you must see what to include and what to leave out. Decide what it is you want to focus on. It is usually the strongest elements that instinctively draw your attention. Stay with those. exclude the rest.


Still struggling to simplify the scene? Time to force yourself to paint the big abstract shapes! Use this method until you have developed the new habit. Get a LARGE brush and small panel. Size 16 brush and a small 10 x 12 panel. Then paint the painting using the same brush and see how far you can go. Repeat this exercise many times. It is a critical skill so please do not laugh it off.

Section 10: Drawing for Painters

Drawing can be an emotional topic. Is your drawing good enough? I give my view on why painters should not fret about drawing.


Many artists are intimidated by drawing, but this video shows why painter's have nothing to fear.

Section 11: Painterly Brushwork

Brushwork gives the painter opportunities for effects and expressive painting. Use brushwork to develop your unique style.


I often talk about using thick paint. Generous brushwork and "paint by the pound". Why is thick paint so attractive? Well it is more about variety of paint thickness than merely throwing paint at the canvas. This lesson discusses the use of thick paint for variety.


This video has examples of brushwork that I use often. Also watch the alla prima demo below for more examples of brushwork painting wet into wet.


The old adage about starting your painting with a broom and finishing with the small brushes is good advice. Too often artists start with small brushes and carry on making little brush marks. This inhibits painterly impressionistic brushwork. This demonstration will show you how using a large bristle brush can give you lively brushwork, large abstract shapes and lovely edges.


Part 1 of this painting demonstration titled "Backroad" shows the benefits of the larger brush in the blocking in stage. This vastly speeds up the blocking stage and keeps the shapes nice and big.


Okay the blocking in stage is over! Still using that size 8 bristle brush and resisting the temptation to reach for a smaller brush. In this video I move into the Second Pass where I start to develop the large shapes further. Moving from the sky shape into the trees and bushes. I develop those shapes by carving out smaller shapes and adjusting the color value and temperature of the color.


The final stages of the painting are completed. A few highlights require a smaller brush. For the most part the painting has been done with the number 8. Of course it is not necessary to use the large brush to this stage, but at least for the blocking in and second pass.

If you lose your way with a small brush it can be useful to go back to a larger brush and enlarge the shapes. This takes you back a bit to a point where you can resume the painting. Kind of like rebooting when you had a painting "crash"

I hope that this approach will help you make more confident starts to your paintings.

Section 12: The Painterly Process

An introduction to my painting process and what you can look forward to in the upcoming lectures.


A basic process is useful to avoid confusion when faced with a challenging subject. Please download the notes on process. There are also demo videos to watch with a detailed alla prima demo below.


Why use a limited palette? I explain what a limited palette is and why it is useful to use it for this course.


In the next few lecture I want to focus on mixing green. Please try to use your own mixed greens instead of tube greens. This is a valuable skill that will improve your painting and enjoyment. Then I will do a short demo on blocking in the main shapes of a painting where green dominates the scene. As always please practice the lesson to build that skill right away.


One of the most important landscape colors is green. It can be tricky to mix at first so many beginners use ready mixed tube greens. I want to show you why you should avoid this and how you can easily mix the perfect green for your environment.


I demonstrate the first layer of a painting using the limited palette and the greens mixed in the previous demonstration. This blocking-in stage is the foundation to be developed with smaller shapes. This early stage gives you the direction and confidence to build a painting in your own style.


Completing a painting in one session is called alla prima. Useful when painting outdoors or simply to go with the mood and opportunity. In Part 1 we look at making a good start to set a foundation for the rest of the process.


Part 2 of our alla prima painting demo is about developing the painting. That middle section where the painting is given body can be tricky. Keep the original concept in mind and proceed boldly!


In Part 3 the painting is completed. This process can be followed with almost any painting.

Section 13: Section 13: Using References Confidently
10 pages

These days reference materials like photos is part of an artist's life. But we cannot simply copy photos. We need to references in a way that enhances our work process.


Photo references are great for your artist library of images. I also look at free software that can be used for assessing composition, values and color.

Section 14: A Plein Air Primer
Plein Air - The Ultimate Painting Experience

This section is all about painting en plein air. It is a wonderful way to express yourself in the outdoors (legally) and it gives your painting skills a real workout too. This video is a fun preview of some of the demos you will receive in this course.


A full length demonstration of my favorite plein air painting approach. A relaxed experience that I can enjoy, but also with an objective of getting a painting completed that will provide reference material for future use.

Section 15: Assignments
Introduction to Assignments
3 pages

Now to start putting the theory into practice! You are starting with shapes and two value notan studies. Refer to the Section on shapes again if necessary. Have fun!

1 page

Moving on from Assignment 1 you now try a series of three value notan paintings.

1 page

An Outline Study to select more shapes and match the values to those shapes.

2 pages

Now it is time to practice mixing paint to match your values for your outline shapes. First in monochrome before you move onto color. Enjoy!

2 pages

Now for your color value painting, if you have not already done this assignment above.

2 pages

See color notes! This exercise will help you see color like Mozart heard music.

2 pages

Learn to mix secondary and tertiary colors by hue and temperature.

1 page

Your palette technique can make you easier by giving you space and time to mix interesting color. It's all part of getting the basics in place.

1 page

Using the limited palette and the methods of mixing paint shown in the above lectures (including process) have a go at mixing hues that are relevant to your painting subjects. Do not worry about doing a painting - simply mix freely on your palette keeping an eye on color temperature as well.

3 pages

Painting your own color charts is a challenge. It could take months to get to it all, but the learning experience will stay with you forever.

3 pages

One secret of paintings with impact is using gray hues. These colors are warm or cool, but add the sense of mystery to your painting. Use grays, experiment with mixing as often as you can and study master paintings to see how many gray hue are used.

2 pages

Using your viewfinder, pencils and sketch book you are on assignment to find your next painting subject. Make a sketch first though!

2 pages

Sketch all done? Good. Now to assess why the composition works and then have a go at making a start with laying in the first shapes on your painting panel.

5 pages

Popular frameworks are useful to give a composition strength. I look at some of these frameworks. Then your turn to look up master paintings to assess the frameworks used.

2 pages

Using master paintings as reference can you spot the methods used for edges?

1 page

Congratulations! Your turn to shine! Paint your masterpiece and let me know how you do.

Section 16: A Course Recap

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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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