Dramatically Improve Your Paintings…Without Even Picking Up A Brush

Discover how master painters learn to “see” differently…and how you can use the same technique to transform your own paintings.

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 make the same mistakes over and over…

  • they get halfway into a painting and get confused about how to finish it…

  • they know something’s wrong, but just can’t figure out what it is…so they rework, then rework some more, and end up with an overworked painting that looks nothing like they intended…

In a nutshell, they feel stuck with their artistic progress.

Obviously, this is discouraging. And when you’re in this situation, you naturally become a bit more hesitant when starting your next 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 that you’re not talented or creative enough.

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 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.

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

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 desire. Never getting lost or confused or suddenly realizing that your picture has somehow gone off the rails. Enjoying the feeling of making real progress with your art…and consistently producing paintings that you’re proud of.

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

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 brushwork and vibrant color.

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

And composition isn’t 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 the foundation of composition—just the way a house rests on a foundation.

When you build the foundational skills that structure the composition, your paintings will improve dramatically.

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 have spent thousands and thousands of hours learning to craft paintings with strong compositions, thinking about composition, 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 in workshops, refining and expanding on what actually works and why.

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

But not everyone is so lucky. 

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 called 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 recommended reading lists at the end of other art instruction books.

The success of that book showed me that painters were crying out for more practice with composition.

And so for years, I taught workshops. 

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

And I made composition a centerpiece of those workshops. I knew that composition was the key to helping my 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 loved teaching those workshops…

But Two Years Ago, 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 simply 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.

Over two years ago, I developed and tested a pilot course for a new online training.

I discovered that the right amount of practice… done in just the right way… could actually rewire my student’s brains.

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

And the quality of their work just exploded.

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

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

“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

“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

“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

“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: February 5 to March 26, 2022

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 we get such impressive results, in so short a time?

We stripped the whole painting process right 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 it 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 equations.

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. 

For example, while this drawing is expressive and gives you a sense of the landscape, it wouldn’t help you to understand how to paint the scene.

But this drawing from 2 weeks later is completely different. You can see now the artist is seeing in masses that overlap back into space.

If you’re working from this second drawing, your chances of translating that image successfully into paint just rose dramatically.

Here’s another drawing from before the course: 

And here’s the same student two weeks later:

It’s hard to really understand what’s going on in the first drawing. But in the second you can see the objects in space, and you can see how you could paint it.

Now you might  find the idea of drawing like this scary or uncomfortable or just not fun.

If so, I get it. 

Perhaps your drawings make you feel exposed artistically. One student told me they thought their drawings looked like chicken scratches.

Maybe drawing feels like a waste of time, when you could be painting instead. But please trust me: learning to draw now will save you years of fruitless practice and frustration down the road.

If you can’t draw it with pencil and paper, you probably can’t paint it. Painting is just drawing with a brush.

Here are four other drawings by students later in the course:

These students didn’t draw any better than you, or certainly not a lot better, when they started.

But this 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 Have to Say About the Program

The video is less than 4 minutes.

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

“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

“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

“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

“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

Week 2:

Carving Depth into the Picture Plane: The Foundation of Western Representational Art

Week 3:

Articulating the Value Masses on the Page: Designing the Image Using Light and Shadow

Week 4:

Draw to a Compositional Structure: How the Eye Moves on the Picture Plane

Week 5:

Cropping and Framing for Greater Drama

Week 6:

Exploring Compositional Structure Using Your Own Images

Learn to “See” in Terms of Structure and Design

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 will use a few images to critique the main points from the past week, show a slideshow of helpful images to introduce the ideas for the next week, and then explain the coming week’s exercises.

After the call, you will watch a demonstration video showing how to execute the week’s image. Then you draw it yourself.

Each week, depending on the time you have available, there are three demonstrations and images to work on. If you only have time for one, that’s fine. But if you want to do more, more is available.

Your work will get critiqued each week, so you can incorporate the feedback you receive and grow even faster.

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

Developing this right-brained perception is the key to long-lasting success with this course. But don’t worry — it happens naturally. All you have to do is complete the exercises I give you. The rest takes care of itself.

“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

“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

“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

“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 fundamental breakthrough, we will deconstruct the painting process. We’ll isolate a couple of foundational skills and practice them until you really grasp them. So you own them.

Then, you’ll rebuild with those new foundational pieces in place.

We start slowly so that you can in fact draw a flat mass of value. That looks like this:

That’s what we do in week 1.

And that’s what everything else builds on.

Because you need to learn to do that in order to do this.

No more chicken scratches. You’ll be doing this kind of drawing functionally within a week. Then each week adds to that, building and layering complexity until you are crafting cropped and consciously structured compositional drawings by week 4.

The Most Efficient Way to Achieve an Artistic Breakthrough

This is the most efficient and effective way to make a significant breakthrough and dramatic improvement in your understanding of composition.

And this course will change your painting practice. I guarantee it.

You will find the course engaging, enjoyable, and challenging.

You will find it informs and transforms your painting

You will build confidence.

And you will build momentum in your artistic practice.

Join me and I’ll help you transform your painting.

And you’ll pay less for this transformation than you might have just a few years ago.  In the past, to work with me directly, you would have spent thousands of dollars for an onsite workshop. 

This online course offers a much more strategic training to transform your painting. So you get every bit of the impact… at a fraction of the cost. 

You’ll pay only $449 for this opportunity to level up your skills, change your perception, and accelerate your artistic progress.

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

“It’s like a thousand puzzle pieces came together in my mind. Things I’ve been trying to understand for years, all fell into place.” — Minnie Warburton, Annapolis, MD

“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, Humboldt, CA

Your Results Are Guaranteed

Take the course and you will learn to draw and see more in masses, design and structure. The foundation of learning to simplify and eliminate unneeded details.

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.

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

And Your Membership Comes With This Invaluable Bonus

At the end of course, you’ll be invited to join a 30-Day Composition Challenge.

Every day for 30 days, you’ll find a subject and craft a 4”x5” pencil sketch, working out a compositional structure within the rectangle.

I will also do the daily drawings — as will everyone else in the course —  and together we will post those images each day for 30 days.

This practice will help you hone your drawing skills and reinforce all those new neural pathways. And own them more than this practice. 

And at the end of 30 days, you will have cemented the skills you developed during the course, so they’re yours for life.

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

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. Patti Shane took the course and had never drawn before.


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. 

My student Barbara Coleman is a national award-winning signature member of Oil Painters of America. She recently won best in show at the Plein Air Painters New Mexico.

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?

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!

“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

“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

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. 

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