Dramatically Improve Your Paintings…
Without Even Picking Up A Brush

 

Discover how master painters plan their paintings before they start to paint… and how using the same techniques will dramatically improve your painting practice.

Do you feel frustrated with your artistic progress?
Like you’ll never be able to produce the paintings
you aspire to create?

You’re not alone. For more than 25 years I’ve listened to students say that they know something is wrong but just can’t figure out what it is.

Landscape painting by Ian Roberts
  • They make the same mistakes over and over
  • They get halfway into a painting and get confused about how to finish it
  • They rework, then rework some more, and end up overworking painting after painting. In a nutshell they feel stuck with their artistic progress.

Obviously this is discouraging. And when you’re in this situation, you naturally become less excited and more hesitant to start your new painting.

As one student said to me, “I need a more solid strategy for starting. I get scared.” And another, “I need a simple, structured program. I can’t do it on my own. I don’t know how.

Maybe you begin to worry you’re not talented enough or creative enough. That you’ve started too late.

And painting — this activity you love and feel called to do — becomes a source of frustration and discouragement.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

My name is Ian Roberts.

I’ve been a painter all my life, and I want to clear up one thing right now: It is not about talent. It’s not about whether you’re creative enough.

Both of those things are irrelevant.

What matters is how you practice… and how you see

Now I’m not talking about how much you practice.

Few of us have the time to do four years of art college. We don’t have 10,000 hours to spare in order to master our craft (2 hours a day for 2 years is just 1460 hours!)

And grinding away at “miles of canvas” just grinds bad habits in deeper. What you need is a more efficient and effective way to improve as a painter.

You need a clear, precise path that will give you the skills you need to express your artistic voice.

Morning in the Market, 12 x 12 oil on panel

When you practice the right way,
you’ll learn to see differently

The End of the Mayor’s Road, 10 x 12 oil on panel

You’ll develop an innate sense of how to compose your painting.

And you’ll know instinctively how to simplify what you see and translate that to your canvas.

And that gives you the foundation for creating consistently better paintings.

Imagine sitting down to paint — and feeling confident throughout the process

Always knowing the right next step to produce the image you want to express. Never getting lost or confused or suddenly realizing that your painting has somehow gone off the rails. Enjoying the feeling of making real progress with your art…and consistently producing paintings you are proud of.

You CAN learn to do this. And when you do, you’ll get to experience a whole new lever of joy and pleasure in your painting.

Here’s what some of those students had to say about the experience.

Mary Lynch
{

“It was wonderful. I’ve heard a lot about composition over the years. Ian put it all in a logical sequence and built on it week by week so it really sunk in this time.
I am applying it now. Consistently. And my paintings show it. I just won an Honorable Mention in a regional juried show.

Mary Lynch

Saint Paul, MN

Margaret McTeigue
{

“I know I needed to practice to improve.So that I have something to do to improve a bit each day. But what? This course solved that.
Each day I had something to focus on. And it built during the month step-by-step. You can feel you are making real progress.

Margaret McTeigue

Lenox, MA

The Secret to Better Paintings Has Nothing to Do With Paint

Painters want to paint…so it makes sense that we’re captivated by things like loose brushwork and vibrant color.

But the reality is, paintings live or die by their composition. Brushwork and color only matter once the composition is in place.

And composition is not something about the rule of thirds or having a center of interest. Nor is it something you tack on half way through your painting.

Paintings rest on a foundation of strong composition — just as when you build a house you put in the foundation first.

You can of course paint without much thought to composition, hoping it will somehow “arrive” in the process of painting.

But this is a low percentage strategy for success.

Instead if you plan your composition before you start to paint, just as a builder puts in a foundation before building, you will start to see your paintings have an exciting, newfound strength and engagement.

It doesn’t matter what you paint, or how, or with what, your painting needs to rest on the foundation of a strong composition.
Diagram about composition

That’s why when you get a handle on composition,
you have the blueprint to build better paintings.

Composition Is the Missing Link for Most Painters

I started going on painting trips with my father and his professional artist friends from the time I was 11.

I’ve spent thousands and thousands of hours learning to craft paintings with strong compositions, thinking about compositions, studying the best painters of all time and how they structured compositions.

And I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours teaching composition to students on workshops, refining and expanding on what actually works and why.

Still life painting by Ian Roberts

I was fortunate to learn the importance of composition early in life, which means I’ve had decades of practice learning to compose striking paintings.

But not everyone gets that level of exposure to this idea of compositional structure. I was lucky I’d say.

Landscape painting by Ian Roberts

Fifteen years ago North Light Books sent a questionnaire to their over 300,000 members asking what they most wanted to have instruction on. And composition was the number one answer.

As it happens I had sold North Light a video called Mastering Composition for their video club a few years before that. And so they asked me to write a book call Mastering Composition.

That book has now sold over 50,000 copies and is still going strong. It is used by art teachers all over the country. It is in the recommended reading lists at the end of many art instruction books. 

The success of that book showed me painters were crying out for more practice on composition. And so for years, I taught workshops.

I taught them in Provence every year for 20 years. I taught in Tuscany, Lake Como, Taos and Maine. Beautiful places with wonderful students.

I made composition the centerpiece of those workshops. I knew that composition was the key to helping students improve dramatically.
So I used every trick in my toolbox to help them develop the ability to “see” in terms of composition…and to translate that vision onto their canvas.

I love teaching those workshops…

But in 2019 I Quit Anyway

See, I found that after a couple of days, students just couldn’t integrate and assimilate any more knowledge.

They painted and they enjoyed the camaraderie of being with other artists. But they reached a learning threshold pretty quickly.

They simple couldn’t integrate what they were learning fast enough to really change how they saw their subjects… and how they translated that seeing onto their canvases.

So I stopped offering workshops. And I started experimenting with other ways of teaching composition.

 

In 2019 I developed and tested a pilot course for a new online training.

I discovered the right amount of practice …done in just the right way… could actually rewire my student’s brain. This is about the “seeing” part. The right brain part.

And it didn’t take very long! Within a month, students had so deeply integrated the principles of composition that they began seeing the world, and their own painting in terms of shapes and value masses and depth.

And the quality of their work just exploded. I’ll show some examples in a moment

The students and I were so encouraged by the training that I expanded and refined the course. And then offered it again twice. To almost 1000 students now.

Here’s what some of those students had to say about the experience.

Minnie Warburton
{

“Ian’s online drawing and composition class has been not one of the best, but the best art educational experience I have ever participated in, bar none. I have not one second of hesitation in recommending it to anyone hoping to grow their artistic skills. Truly, this is a uniquely transformational experience. Highly, highly recommended!”

Graham Salisbury

Lake Oswego, Oregon

Marilyn Lewis
{

The course did change my perception. Something has changed. I see less in details, and more in terms of values and framing them.

Marilyn Lewis

Marilyn Lewis

Mary-Ellen Yeomans
{

“First off, let me give you my raving testimonial since I think this course is absolutely fantastic. It is a credit to all of your abilities – most notably as an educator, a course designer, an artistic inspiration, a budding tech-wonder – that you have pulled together a course that is so effective for students with a wide range of experience and ability. Bravo!

Mary-Ellen Yeomans

Toronto, Canada

Laura Parker
{

It has been amazing to see how much each and every one of us has grown throughout the drawing course.
Our enthusiasm is a true testament to your teaching ability!”

Laura Parker

London, England

Now Open for Registration

Mastering Composition

Program Dates:
January 21 to March 11, 2023

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition and dramatically improve my painting!

How to Produce Dramatic Improvements
in Your Painting Skill

So how did get such impressive results, in so short a time? We stripped the whole painting process down to basics.

It is very hard to improve in a foundational way when 95% of your attention remains focused on other complications, like: what am I going to paint, is it a good idea, is my drawing any good, what color should that be, shouldn’t that shapes maybe be bigger, or darker, I can’t seem to get the paint to go on the way I want, and on and on and on.

You cannot build foundational practices with all that bouncing around in your head at the same time. So we stripped all that right out of the equation. Instead of painting, we drew. With pencil and paper. And the students’ drawings got better.
A LOT better. And quickly.

Each week we focused on just one or two skills that would create the most rapid progress. So students could practice and fully integrate each new skill before we moved on to the next.

And look at the results we got.

Before the course

Draving before the course

This drawing give you a sense of the landscape but much of what it shows is not clear.

And the point of these drawings is to have an efficient way to think about an image visually before you start to paint.

This drawing would not go far in helping you translate the scene into paint.

just two weeks later

Draving after the course

But this drawing, from two weeks later, is different. Now you can see the individual shapes of bushes and trees. You can see where they sit in space, where they overlap, where the lights and shadows are.

The drawing may not be a masterpiece but now the artist has a clear sense of how to turn this drawing into a painting.

And their chances of success now compared to using the first drawing, is dramatic.

Here’s another example

Before the course

Draving before the course

This drawing may be expressive but once again many aspects othis drawing remain unclear, what things are, where they sit in space.

just two weeks later

Draving before the course

But this drawing by the same artist, just two weeks later, is different. You can see now how you might paint this. Shape by shape. With the eye being pulled over to the left at the end of the road and everything else supporting that movement. There’s no distracting elements. Everything supports the compositional idea.

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

Now you might be thinking, I’m not sure I’ll be able to draw like that. You perhaps find the idea scary. Or you’ll feel exposed artistically.

As one student told me before they took the course, they thought their drawings looked like chicken scratches. Or maybe drawing feels like a waste of time. All you want to do is paint.

I get it.

But look here at a few more drawings, before the course and after the course.
A six week course.
And remember these students didn’t draw any better than you before
they started the course.

Before the course

After the course

Before » after the 2 weeks course
Before » after the 2 weeks course
Before » after the 2 weeks course

In each case you can see how much easier the second image would be to paint.

Here is a blunt truth:
if you can’t draw it with pencil and paper,
you probably can’t paint it.

Most of the painting process is about “seeing” how you want objects to sit in space and rendering that. Clearly. Simply. Crafting your drawing reveals the image in preparation for painting.

Working through your ideas for a painting, testing them, before you begin to paint will clarify your vision. When Drawing can become an enjoyable part of your artistic process, something you embrace rather than avoid. If when you draw an image and the idea doesn’t seem to work, you find a new way to express it, explore the idea efficiently and enjoyably. Or you move to another idea.

Then, just like artists throughout the centuries, you are using drawing to hone in on strong, dramatic compositions. When you start like that, with a good compositional sketch, your success rate will soar.

Here are three examples of sketches I did before painting. A drawing like this can be done for its own sake. It can be quite  finished, or you may do something looser just to clarify your thinking before begin to paint.

From drawing to painting (landscape)
From drawing to painting (still life)
From drawing to painting (landscape)

It is a time honored first step to beginning to paint. Rather than just rushing right in and hoping for the best.
Because truthfully most student paintings are ruined before the brush even hits the canvas.

Painting in the end is just drawing with a brush.

In six weeks you will see your drawing improve dramatically. So it becomes an efficient and enjoyable tool in your artistic practice.

The process is proven.
If you do the exercises, you’ll transform your drawings within a month.
I guarantee it.

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

Here’s What My Students Say About the Program 

This video is less than four minutes. 

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

Here’s what some of those students had to say about the experience
of learning to draw in this course

Deb Wicks
{

Thank you for opening the door I was afraid to enter. I never thought I’d enjoy drawing as much as I have!

Deb Wicks

Sarasota, FL

Kerin O’Connor
{

I always avoided drawing. I was slow. I had to work too hard at it and I didn’t feel I got a result that really helped me. Really I didn’t know what I was even looking for. Now I feel like drawing is a tool I can use.

Kerin O’Connor

Saint Paul, MN

Robin Edmundson
{

Before the course I was afraid to draw. I thought it was hard and I was too old to learn. Now doing value studies has become one of the most enjoyable parts of my process and I never thought I would say that about value studies. Ever. That course changed my artistic journey. Best art class/experience I’ve ever had. Worth every minute and every penny.

Robin Edmundson

Solsberry, IN

Anna Marie Pederson
{

I’m amazed at what I can do now, compared to where we started.

Anna Marie Pederson

Monroe, MI

Here’s What You’ll Learn and Practice Each Week of the Course 

Week 1 – Laying in Masses:
The Basic Building Blocks of Your Drawing

  • The first step is learning to create smooth shapes of value so you can do this.
  • These are the building blocks of the course. Everything builds off of this easy to learn skill [drawing using value shapes]
  • Nothing will move you from “chicken scratches” to competent drawings more quickly
Smooth shapes of value

Week 2 – Carving Depth in the Picture Plane:
The Foundation of Western Representational Art

  • Using overlaps, scale, value shifts and gradations of value you will draw the value shapes of week one to carve the illusion of depth on your paper, the picture plane.
  • You will feel yourself crafting form and space in your drawings 

Week 3 – Designing the Value Masses on the Page:
Seeing in Terms of Light and Shadow 

  • You’ll learn to use the big shapes of light and shadow to design your drawing
  • This will give you a radical insight into how to simplify an image, see in shapes and eliminate unnecessary detail

Week 4 – Drawing to a Compositional Structure:
How the Eye Moves on the Picture Plane 

  • You learn how to find the “big picture” of compositional structure before you begin to draw
  • Understanding and using contrast of value (light and dark) you learn to lead the views visually through your drawing 

Week 5 – Cropping and Framing for Greater Drama 

  • Looking at the great wide world, you’ll learn how to select and craft images for greater interest, impact and engagement 

Week 6: Exploring Compositional Structure Using Your Own Images 

  • Letting go of the side of the pool you’ll explore and draw your own images using everything you have learned about composition
  • We’ll explore how to find interest and drama in the everyday using sound composition and engaging value masses. 

Learning to “See” in Terms of Design First

The Foundation for Simplifying Your Work and Eliminating Unnecessary Detail

Your drawings will improve rapidly and dramatically… and so too will your paintings.

But that’s not even the best part.

The hidden value of the course lies in how you learn to “see” as you draw. How you learn to see in value masses and orchestrate them on paper.

The ability to see and design value masses on your paper is the single most foundational skill you can learn to dramatically improve your painting.

When you feel yourself starting to craft your paintings as designs first, when you start to see in terms of the poetry of the value masses, then you have the keys to the kingdom.

Then your vision, your inspiration, has a vehicle for expression.

You will have structured the foundation for consistently better paintings. And that leads to enthusiasm to paint more.

Learning these skills will save you years.

Here’s How It Works

Each week we begin with a live Zoom call. I give these calls personally. I will use several student drawings to critique the main point from last week, show a slideshow of helpful images to introduce the ideas for the next week, and then give you an explanation for the coming week’s exercises.

The call is always recorded if you can’t make it to the live call

Ian Roberts online courses on computer, tablet and smatphone
Conference call with Ian Roberts

After the call (it is recorded so it’s fine if you can’t make it live) you will watch a demonstration video  showing how to execute the week’s image. Most weeks there are two demonstration videos and images.

Often there is a third image you can also do if you have time. If you only have time to do one each week, that is fine. The course materials will be available for a year after the course so you can practice them later if you like.

Each week you’ll focus on a very specific deliberate practice. Each week layering and building on the last.

We have a unique critique structure each week so you can think about how you might improve the image. Learning to critique your own images helps your progress dramatically.

And the best part? As you engage in this practice of doing the exercises each week you’ll be building new neural pathways that change how you perceive your world. At a neurological level, you’ll start to “see” in terms of design, structure and value masses.

Developing this right-brain perception is the key to long lasting success in your artistic practice. And it happens naturally. All you have to do is complete the exercises. The rest takes care of itself.

The transformation during the course is obvious to everyone. You’ll fell motivated week after week because you’ll see your progress. In fact in the most recent course 90% of the students did exercises for every week of the course. Just so you get a sense of why that 90% is relevant, the average completion rate for university online courses is just 7%!

Here’s what some of those students had to say about the experience.

Catherine Mix
{

After taking this course I have much more confidence that it is likely my painting will turn out well. That makes me so much more eager to paint. That has been important.

Catherine Mix

Sequim, WA

Kim King
{

I think the course has been fantastic. It has been life-changing for me. It has really given me a new excitement about my art work. I look at everything differently, looking for strong values, for structure and composition. The course has taken my art to another level.

Kim King

Hendersonville, TN

Liz Seaborne
{

Absolutely the best art course I have ever taken. It has changed forever the way I view potential painting subject matter. I finally really learned ‘how to see.

Liz Seaborne

Santa Fe, MN

Diana Hilliard
{

I have taken courses at art college, at university, bought and read dozens of books, purchased and viewed videos, and attended many workshops and independent classes. Nothing carried me forward like this course has. Brilliant!

Diana Hilliard

Kelowna, BC

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

How This Course Will Transform
Your Drawing AND Your Painting

To make a foundational breakthrough in painting means first having to take the process apart. You need to isolate the foundational skills and practice them until you really grasp them. So you own them.

Then you rebuild your practice with those new foundational pieces in place. So they are embedded in your practice.

The first step, as we showed in the illustration above, is being able to put down a smooth value shape like this.

Smooth value shape

It takes a little practice, but you’ll be doing it by the end of Week 1.
Because you need to be able to that in order to do this.

Landscape drawing

But that is what everything in learning to draw is built on.

You’ll be doing this kind of drawing functionally by the end of week 3.
Each week adds to last, building and layering complexity until you are crafting cropped and consciously structured compositional drawing on your own.

The Most Efficient Way to Achieve
an Artistic Breakthrough

Based on your current artistic practice now, how long might it take to make a dramatic improvement? And how would you make it happen? Will it happen continuing doing what you are doing now?

Have you ever had the opportunity to really take your painting practice apart, introduce foundational skills and then rebuild your practice back up.

This course offers a unique opportunity to see a fundamental and striking difference in how you see, how you draw, and both of those will transform how you paint.

You will find the course enjoyable, engaging and challenging. You will gain confidence as an artist.
You’ll gain momentum in your painting practice.
This course offers a strategic training to transform your painting.

You’ll only pay $449 to make your drawing an enjoyable and fundamental tool in your artistic practice, change your perception and transform your painting practice.

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

Your Results Are Guaranteed

That this course and you will learn to draw and see in masses, design and structure. The foundation to learning to simplify and eliminate unnecessary detail.

If you are not completely satisfied with the course I’ll send you your money back.

The reason I can guarantee it: If you do the drawings, you will gain the benefit. It’s that simple.

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

 Added Bonus #1

Your course comes with this invaluable Bonus

At the end of the course, you will be invited to join me in a 30-Day Challenge.

During the course most of the photographs we draw from are mine, until the last week. So for the challenge, every day for 30 days you’ll find your own subjects and craft a small 4” x 5” pencil sketch, working out compositional structure and value shape designs.

I will also be doing the drawing and we will all post them daily for the 30 days.

Nothing will help you hone and embed your drawing skills and reenforce all those new neural pathways than this 30-Day Challenge.

By the end of the challenge you will have cemented the skills you developed during the course so they will be yours for life.

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

 Added Bonus #2

Your course comes with Three Free Months
of the Mastering Composition Community

When you sign up for the Mastering Composition course you will automatically be included in the Mastering Composition community free for three months.

Each month we have :

  • An hour long Zoom call with
  • Motivating ideas to engage and encourage our artistic practice
  • New and interesting artists
  • Critique of student work to uncover the most important elements of strong composition
  • Q&A on submitted questions.
  • A monthly long-form video demonstration, usually of that month’s YouTube video painting. The video goes into greater detail, for 20-25 minutes, of the thinking behind the image, its composition and structure, then  step-by-step how the painting evolved to completion.

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

Here’s what some of those students had to say about the experience.

Maggie Grotle
{

This course was a significant breakthrough for me! I learned (and now understand) how to use drawing as the key tool to design my painting…the course took me through an amazing process I never knew existed before!

Maggie Grotle

Asheville, NC

Abeer Sakkejha
{

The course has definitely improved the way I look at things. I learned to slow down while drawing. So when I came to paint from one of my sketches everything fell into place. It just flowed more easily.

Abeer Sakkejha

Toronto, Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course for?

If you want to use your time efficiently to make real breakthroughs in your drawing and painting, then this is for you.

If you’ve hit a plateau and do not seem to be progressing, then this is for you.

If you get frustrated either overworking painting after painting, then this is for you. 

If you get stuck in the middle of your paintings or feel confused about how to continue, then this is for you.

If you’re serious about improving your painting, then this is for you.

I'm a beginner. Will I get left behind?

Absolutely not! This course will help you build a good foundation right at the start, instead of grinding in bad habits.

I'm a professional painter. Will this be too basic?

Nope! If you feel like you could benefit from better composition skills… then you can get them from this class.

Landscape painting with Ian Roberts

How much time will the course take?

To get the full benefit of the course, you’ll need to set aside 4-5 hours each week.

That includes an hour-long Zoom call every Saturday (which will be recorded), weekly lessons and painting demonstrations, a weekly critique, and your weekly drawing practice. 

I recommend that you break up that time over the week, so you can do a little learning and little practice each day. 

If you’re serious about improving your painting and committed to making time for your practice, I would be delighted if you joined us in the course. It WILL help you make huge strides forward in your artistic practice.

You really have a money back guarantee?

Yes, because I know if you do the exercises, you will make breakthroughs in your drawing and in your understanding of composition and designing value masses. 

If you do the exercises and after three weeks feel your drawings haven’t improved, or you haven’t had any insight into how this will improve your compositions and therefore your paintings, I’ll send you your money back.

Will the course be available for review after the six weeks?

Yes. You’ll have access to all the lessons for a full year. You’re welcome to go back to any lessons you didn’t complete during the course or retake those you did complete.

Can you really improve my painting dramatically in a month?

Probably! 

Of course, what you get from this course depends on what you put into it.

If you complete all the exercises and assignments, then you can expect significant breakthroughs in how you see and in how you carve the illusion of depth in a picture plane. You’ll learn to see what disrupts your actual drawing from what you planned. And you’ll improve your ability to assess an idea for a composition before you start.

These are huge breakthroughs. And for most of my students, they translate directly into better paintings… and a better experience with painting.

I’m offering the 30-challenge with continued live weekly video conference calls to help you further cement and expand your skills. So you can continue to use the artistic momentum of the course and expand these breakthroughs and really make them your own.

This course is the beginning of something. Not the end.

I'm not sure I can take the course right now. Will you teach the course again?

I will certainly offer the course again, but not necessary with so much personal involvement. All the live Saturday Zoom calls may be recorded in future courses. So if you want more live interaction with me… now’s the time to take the course.

If I buy the course will I be able to watch the videos again later?

Yes. You will have access to the videos and the course materials for a year.

I'm primarily a figure painter. Will this help me as well?

Yes, but we will primarily focus on landscapes. Landscapes make the idea of carving deep space into a picture plane more evident. You also more easily see where your drawing pulls attention to itself rather than serving that illusion of depth.

Landscape also forces us to think in terms of foreground, middleground and background, where we want the viewer’s attention to go, and how to craft that as we move back into space.

All that makes it easier to learn composition with landscapes. But the insights and benefits will help you structure figure paintings. 

In week 5 you will start to use your own images, if you want, so then you can apply everything you have learned to figures. Or still lifes. Or abstract paintings.

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition
and dramatically improve my painting!

Honor Your Artistic Expression

Many of my students have wanted to paint for years, but work and family obligations took up their time. Now, finally, they feel that this is their time to paint.

This desire to paint is important. You may have no idea where that deep, quiet calling comes from. Or why you want to paint.

After more than 40 years I still don’t know why I want to paint. I just know I want to do it.

Yet that desire calls you for a reason and I think it’s important to find a way to give expression to it.

Answering that call to express yourself artistically, honoring it with care and attention, may be one of the great things you can do for yourself. That at least is my experience.

If you’re ready to improve your painting and develop a new way of seeing, just click the button below to join me inside the course.

Ian

Yes, I want to learn the secrets of composition and dramatically improve my painting!