Mastering Bold Brushwork

Build on Your New Drawing Skills and Learn to Paint with Loose, Dramatic Brushwork

April 23-May 22, 2022

Registration Is Open!

Loose brushwork dazzles. No wonder it’s the number one skill, along with vibrant color, that painters want to learn.

You want to emulate the brushwork of masters like Sorolla, Zorn, and Sargent…

…but when you put brush to canvas something goes wrong.

That bold intention turns tentative. Whatever you put down feels wrong, and needs adjusting, with first one, then two, then three little corrections.

And the boldness is gone.

Dozens of courses and workshops claim to teach loose brushwork.

But the truth is, there is no “brushwork” technique. Brushwork is a byproduct. Not a goal.

That loose, bold look that you desire for your paintings? That doesn’t come from applying a particular technique. Instead, that boldness emerges naturally from your earlier decisions about what you are painting.

Develop a solid compositional structure, get clear on where you are going before you begin, learn how to mix the right value…

…and the brushwork you’ve been dreaming of flows off your brush.

That constant retouching ends.

Instead, you’ll find yourself putting down the stroke and leaving it. Paint it and leave it—that’s the motto of the course.

That leads to fresh, alive brushwork and more dramatic paintings.

The most important aspect of loose brushwork relies on what you do before you touch the canvas.

You Already Have an Advantage…

Because you’ve completed Mastering Composition, you know how to arrange masses, carve depth, and structure compositions…so that now you can consistently use those skills in your drawings.

Those are the foundational skills for loose brushwork.

They’re so important that my Mastering Brushwork course is ONLY open to painters like you have graduated from the Mastering Composition course.

You have put in the work, and now you are ready for the next step:

Learning to paint with bold, loose, dramatic brushwork.

So I’m delighted to invite you to join…

Mastering Bold Brushwork

We now have a common understanding and vocabulary of composition, the foundation of a painting.

We’ve built a momentum on the drawing course on seeing more in masses and values.

In this 4-week course, we’ll build your brushwork skills up from the basics, just like we did with your drawing skills.

You’ll discover how to mix values, define masses, craft edges, and lay on paint and leave it, so your paint handling is direct and confident.

Just as we did in the drawing course, we will break each skill down to basics and do deliberate practice on just that one for a week.

Then add another, and another.

We’ll build on the composition skills you’ve developed to push deeper into the ideas of structure, design, and simplification but now using paint.

“I had a few years of academic training and I could never figure out how to release myself from the constraints of that method, how to paint “looser” but with integrity. That is coming together for me now after the brushwork course.”

—Karen Scales, Stratford, Ontario

“You have provided me with so much fundamental knowledge, it’s hard to boil this down. My painting workshops have all been technique-based, so I was starved for a foundation that would put all the pieces together, from the very start. Thank you for being such an amazing teacher, Ian!”

—Deb Wicks, Sarasota, Florida

The Building Blocks of Loose Brushwork

Loose brushwork requires confidence…and it’s hard to lay down bold, confident strokes when you’re not entirely sure where to put your brush or what color you need to mix.

The composition course solves the first problem. You are now growing in the ability to create a composition that gives structure to your painting…you know where the masses are. So you will find you know where to put the next brushstroke.

Mastering Bold Brushwork solves the second problem by taking color off the table altogether.

In the drawing program, we worked in pencil rather than paint in order to isolate the most important skills to develop your compositional competency.

In Mastering Bold Brushwork, we will work in black and white paint, so you can hone your ability to mix values, render masses, craft edges.

Those are three fundamentally important areas for deliberate practice. Independent of color.

You’ll learn how to paint value masses confidently, painting to the compositional structure and carve the sense of objects in space.

That is how you get loose brushwork.

And once you have the brushwork, you’ll also have the foundations you’ll need to successfully use bold, vibrant color in your paintings.

“I think having us painting in shades of grey was absolutely brilliant. It really drove the points home and was a very powerful lesson. I just kept shaking my head and thinking, wow, now I understand what Ian meant…it’s all value….and the color doesn’t matter at all. It was an almost audible aha moment that tied everything together for me.

I am also feeling SO much more adept at getting the values I want…this too feels so much more natural. I see the palette and I know how to get what I want much more quickly. It feels more practiced than just sheer good luck.

Anyway, I’m just loving the class. It’s been really wonderful and enlightening, and I feel I am learning so much. Each week is a bit mind-blowing, really.  

Thanks for all you do, Ian. You have invested SO much in this course, and just know that it’s so appreciated and that your lessons are really making a difference. THANK YOU!”

—Donna Stevens, Bloomington, Indiana

“Your courses have given me such a deep appreciation of art and painting. There’s nothing I like more now. The topics seem ever-present in my mind each day. I ‘see’ and appreciate art in nature…everywhere. No matter the level of talent I develop, the larger benefit is this daily appreciation and understanding.”

—Alan Morris, Manhasset, New York

“The most important gift of the classes and critiques is a feeling of confidence in what I am doing. Although there are the bad paintings I throw away, the muddy messes, more often the work succeeds, and 97% of the time, in between paintings I am doing happy dances around my house because I AM PAINTING! And nothing makes me happier!!!!! You have been a great teacher, a great mentor, and I am grateful. Thank you. You taught me. And I learned. BRAVO to both of us!!!!!”

—Minnie Warburton, Annapolis, Maryland

“Ian, I wish I could describe the shift happening in my perception and skills. I’m such a coward and often it’s been excruciating to do the assignments (and I avoid, avoid) because I just didn’t know what I was doing. But from keeping at it anyway I’m now enjoying a sudden spurt of growth and understanding. These weeks of lessons are adding up to something tangible. Yeah, yeah, very far to go. But: a breakthrough. Thrilling is not too big a word. I want to convey how effective your deconstructing approach has been, in my experience. I feel lucky and grateful to have had this opportunity.”

—Marilyn Lewis, Humboldt, California

How It Works

The course will follow the same structure as the drawing course: we’ll begin with the most foundation skills and build upon them each week, until you’ve mastered the art of loose brushwork.

We’ll have a weekly live Zoom call with slide-show illustrations to introduce the week’s ideas. On your own time, you’ll watch detailed lessons for the week, with demonstration videos. As homework, you’ll produce two paintings, 8” x 10”, which you’ll then post and critique.

The course is designed to give you ample practice with key skills, so you can make fast progress and see quick improvements to your paintings.

The first thing I want to say is that this course (and the previous drawing course) is like no other I have ever taken, and I mean that in the most positive sense. I don’t think I’ve ever had a painting instructor who has articulated the concepts of shapes, values, edges and temperature in the way you have done.

Further, any of the painting workshops I have attended, while they do touch on these issues to a degree, they simply don’t have the time to adopt a rigorous approach to the craft of painting like you do in this course.”

—Cam Stewart, Toronto, Ontario

“There are multiple exercises in each lesson to provide practice of each concept.  All of the demos are in oil, but I worked entirely in watercolor and had no problem applying the concepts to that medium.   Other students worked in gouache, acrylic and pastel. My skills advanced dramatically.  This was the best art course experience I have ever had.  Highly recommended.”

—Robin Edmundson, Solsberry, Indiana

What You’ll Learn

Week 1:

Finding the Right Value

The foundation of good brushwork rests on finding the right value. That means mixing it, testing it. Then putting it down. If it is the right value, you leave it.

Lesson 1: Creating a Grey Scale and Transition Values

If our main tool for painting in value masses is values we should be conversant with that. We start by painting in a grey scale. Then we mix and test to find the transition value between each step of the grey scale. And we lay in it and leave it. This clearly hones our awareness of the work that needs to be done BEFORE we touch paint to canvas.

Lesson 2: Demonstration Video and Image

The image is quite simple so we can get familiar with testing and laying in paint.

Week 2:

Masses and Edges

We learned in the drawing course the role of value masses and how edges help us lead the viewer through our composition to a center of interest. This week we’ll learn how to lay in those masses in paint—simple, clean and fresh.

Lesson 1: Creating Edge Scales

Just as we can envision different values laid out in a scale, so too can we think of a scale of edges that runs from hard to soft. This week, we create two edge scales to clarify the range and variety and visual grip that we can produce with edges.

Lesson 2: Demonstration Video and Image

This is a familiar image and one for which you have already orchestrated how the eye moves in a compositional structure. But now you will do it in paint. There is a second image if you have time.

Week 3:

Paint It and Leave It

Now we’ll take the exercises of the last two weeks and use them to build the foundation of bold brushwork. Paint it and leave it. Part of this ability comes from knowing you have the right value on the brush. Part comes from just forcing yourself to do it. This week, you’ll be pushing your confidence level and learn to trust your own abilities.

Lesson 1: Demonstration Video and Exercise Image

Lesson 2: Second Image

Week 4:

Adding Color Temperature

Before painting in color we need to get a handle on color temperature. Muddling around with warms and cools is the quickest way to turn beautiful colors into mud and confusion.

Each layer of information that we add to a painting increases the possibility of confusing the viewer. So we must learn to be clear and precise in how we develop each element of our paintings.

To master color temperature, you must extract your attention from local color and only respond to the lights and darks in terms of temperature. It requires a mental shift, from perception to conception. Making this mental shift will dramatically improve your sense of light in your paintings.

Lesson 1: Demonstration Video and Exercise Image

Lesson 2: Second Image

Week 5:

Critique and Consolidation of Ideas

Once you’ve completed the Mastering Bold Brushwork program, you’ll have the foundation you need to use color more effectively in your paintings. But before we end the course, we will take time to solidify and consolidate those foundations. This week, we will review the key ideas from the course and apply them with two more practice images.

Course Price: $379 US

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I ready? I feel like a beginner.

You’re ready! If you felt like a beginner for the drawing course, then you know what to expect. You may have felt nervous…but you did find however that actually week-by-week you could do the exercises. You could keep up. The same will be true for the Mastering Bold Brushwork program.

Just as with the drawing course, your skills will keep pace with the lessons. As the lessons get more demanding, you’ll get better. Step-by-step, one layer after another, building skills, and confidence.


Will you offer this course again at a later date?

At some point, yes. But if improving your painting skills is important to you, it’s worth prioritizing that with whatever time you have available.

You’ll continue to have access to the course materials for at least two years after the program ends. So if you can commit 2-3 hours a week to painting and lessons, you may wish to take the course now and continue doing the exercises in your own time if you can’t keep up.

Will the course materials be available after the course?

Not forever, but you’ll have full access to all the course materials for at least two years after the program end date.

I paint in watercolor (or gouache, or acrylic). Will this course be helpful to me?

Absolutely! This course isn’t about a particular technique, but rather about how to construct your painting in such a way that you know in advance where you will apply your paint. Those skills are valuable in any medium.

I will do my demonstrations in oil…but as Robin shares, you can be successful in whatever medium you prefer:

“All of the demos are in oil, but I worked entirely in watercolor and had no problem applying the concepts to that medium. Other students worked in gouache, acrylic and pastel. My skills advanced dramatically. This was the best art course experience I have ever had. Highly recommended.” – Robin Edmundson


What materials will I need?

I will provide a detailed list of everything you will need…but the key items are: one tube each of Ivory Black, Titanium White, and Yellow Ochre; a half dozen hogshair filberts; a small bottle of gesso; and some canvas panels.

How much time will this require each week?

Different students work at different speeds. So this is hard to say specifically. Each demonstration video is approximately 30 minutes. A careful, unrushed 8” x 10” painting 2-4 hours. Most weeks there are also exercises, like the grey scale and the edge scale. They could take an hour or two as well.

But if you can’t finish all the exercises each week they will be available to catch up on after the course.

When are the live calls?

The same as for the drawing course. Saturday at 9 am PT for a little over an hour. They are recorded if you can’t make it.

The basic course structure is the same. Using the same course platform, same posting to small groups, same buddy system and critiquing.


“Several people in the art group I belong to have commented on the progress in my art – so SOMETHING is happening!”

—Diane Schaefer, Baltimore, Maryland

“Your courses have been more productive and educational than any others I have taken, by leaps and bounds.”

—Graham Salisbury, Lake Oswego, Oregon

Honor Your Desire to Paint

You wouldn’t be here if painting wasn’t important to you.

You’ve already committed the time and effort to develop your drawing and composition skills…and I’m sure you’re seeing the results in your painting.

And you want to keep growing, expanding, and expressing yourself artistically…because that’s what artists do.

So honor that impulse. Build on the artistic momentum you’ve already created this year.

Join me for Mastering Bold Brushwork and see where your artistic vision will take you next.