The Secret to Your Painting's Success
4.4 (177 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
3,690 students enrolled
Wishlisted Wishlist

Please confirm that you want to add The Secret to Your Painting's Success to your Wishlist.

Add to Wishlist

The Secret to Your Painting's Success

How Making a Great Start to Your Painting Ensures Successful Completion
4.4 (177 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
3,690 students enrolled
Created by Malcolm Dewey
Last updated 8/2017
Price: Free
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 6 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Research, prepare and begin a painting
View Curriculum
  • A basic selection of materials such as:
  • Pencil and A5 sketch pad
  • Broad tipped (wedge) black marker pen
  • Primary colors and white in either oils or acrylics
  • Small canvas or painting panel
  • A #6 bristle brush
  • Paper towel and cleaning materials

Do you find that your paintings seldom finish off looking good? Or do you abandon your painting halfway because nothing is looking right? Scraping back the paint in frustration only to abandon the painting is annoying. Not to mention a waste of time and money.

The solution in many cases is what you do even before you begin painting. It is all about the preparation and start where the real outcome is usually determined.

Any professional will tell you that there are a thousand ways to paint your picture and ruin it too. But most agree that getting the painting off to a great start is critical Step One

That is why I decided to create this short course with a focus on the start. This course is based on part of my Learn to Impact Master Course. The latter has much more detail should you want to take your learning to the next level.

The Secret to Your Painting Success will give you much information and practical tips that you can try out now with your next painting. Make that step up in your painting before moving onto more complicated techniques.

You will need the following materials:

  1. The primary colors and white (oils or acrylics)
  2. A canvas or painting panel
  3. Brushes - #6 bristle
  4. Medium or white spirits
  5. Paper towel
  6. Pencil and A5 sketchbook
  7. Black marker pen (thick wedge shaped tip)

I look forward to meeting you on the course!

Who is the target audience?
  • Beginners and anyone struggling to complete a painting successfully
Compare to Other Painting Courses
Curriculum For This Course
1 Lecture 02:45

After many failed paintings, frustration and reworking it became clear to me that the most important stage of the painting process came before the painting itself. Preparation and the actual start of the painting usually determined the outcome. How much I enjoyed the painting also relied on the start. Here's why.

1 Lecture 07:26

Surely one topic that everyone has heard of. But composition is still not an easy subject to master. You may have an instinctive knack for composition. You know when something looks right. But once again when you start painting all sorts of other things creep in as you struggle to work within the confines of the picture plane. Frustration results. So this lecture will teach about fifteen essential composition tips. Use them until it becomes second nature to you.

15 Ways to Strong Composition
Subject Choice Do's and Dont's
1 Lecture 06:07
Subject Choice Errors and How to Avoid Them
Test With Sketches
1 Lecture 03:40

The humble thumbnail sketch. This remains one of the most effective ways to teat your composition. By simply drawing the outline of the painting - square or rectangle - in thumbnail size in your sketchbook, you can test how your subject will fit in. Where your focal point will be and placement of shapes. You can expand this sketch onto your painting surface with confidence.

How to do a Thumbnail Sketch
Isolate Major Shapes
1 Lecture 03:59

This technique is a winner yet few artists actually use it. Some of the most important considerations in a painting are:

  1. What are the dominant shapes?
  2. Are these shapes light or dark?
  3. What shapes to leave out?
  4. Does the painting look interesting?How to figure this out at the start is by using a notan study. Similar to a thumbnail sketch, but without details. Just the largest light or dark shapes. 
The Easy Way to Establish Shapes and Values
Preparing Your Painting Materials
1 Lecture 05:48

Now we can start preparing the painting surface, get the materials ready and make sure the actual painting process is not frustrated by lack of preparation.

Prepare the Canvas and Materials for Painting
Demo 1: Making the Start
1 Lecture 08:38

Now we can start the blocking in stage. This is the start with oil paint based on the sketch and notan studies. I am using a basic oil painting palette of the primary colors and white. I am using artists white spirits to make the paint loose and thin. 

Remember to use thin paint only at this beginning stage of the painting. Subsequent layers should not have spirits mixed into the oil paint. The reason for this is that the spirits breaks down the buttery nature of oil paint. You also lose strength of color doing this. So keep painting with nice buttery paint in subsequent layers. 

This is what we call painting "fat over lean".

PS: You can see a photo of the completed painting in the PDF Course Summary in the Conclusion Lecture below.

Demo 1: Village Lane
Demo 2: Making the Start
1 Lecture 06:32

In this second example I work from preparation stage to fairly late in the blocking in stage. When I reach the end I have a choice. Carry on and complete the painting in one go (alla prima) or let it dry overnight and work on a drier surface. Each approach has its merits and depends on your plan. 

I would like you to try both methods. Alla prima is useful for small paintings (Like this one) or outdoor painting where time is of the essence. You can also get a fresher appearance filled with energy in the alla prima style.

The other approach (letting it dry a bit) offers other brushwork options like dragging and scumbling.

Perhaps you do not have choice if things are not going well and you need time to think? Then leave the painting to rest and regroup for another session the next day. You are the artist so you decide on what is best.

Blocking In the Major Shapes
2 Lectures 05:42

This start-up course is all about teaching the language of painting. At least one part of it regarding how to start the painting. But you can take this much further into your painting. Without a knowledge of the language of painting it becomes very difficult to say what you feel on the canvas. 

Once you have a good working knowledge of the language you can use it automatically. Like you speaking you home language. How you use that language is up to you. It is the same with painting. Learn the language well and you can paint anything your heart desires in YOUR own style.

Are you interested in taking your painting to new levels? Painting landscapes, seascapes or portraits in a loose and impressionist fashion? 

Learn The Language of Painting

Trailer to How to Loosen Up Your Painting
About the Instructor
Malcolm Dewey
4.4 Average rating
441 Reviews
10,627 Students
7 Courses
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 am also concerned with helping people find their calling to create. This includes using art to release creative blocks, achieve mindfulness and more calm in our lives. Art has great potential to ease the burdens of modern living.

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.