Academy Training

To improve your Understanding, skills and techniques


 A growing library of knowledge.


The basics are the foundations that underpin your learned techniques.  But as so many artists come to understand, techniques in a medium alone, is rarely enough to go forward and progress in your artistic growth.    It is a little like trying to learn how to play anything on a piano without learning the scales.   You might already have some core knowledge, but it never hurts to revisit valuable principles.     I do it even now.   Many of my contemporaries do too.

So let us look at the Academy programme.     The programme is in its infancy and of course will be growing with regular new content as required for the themed projects.      I will at times be guided by you as to what content will be added in what order, and also depending on the Academy  theme for a given period.

If You are a Beginner to Art


To be a beginner in the Academy is a good place to start.   Why is that?   Well because starting from scratch is a good way to make sure you haven’t developed any bad habits, and that is why I love teaching beginners!

In a way it is comparable to the art student going to college, and the first training they take is called a ‘Foundation Course’.  This is your foundation course and as such will give you exactly that – firm foundations to build your work on.

But never forget that this training is always here and you can dip into it whenever you need to at any time, as long as you are a member of the Academy.      The Core training is important no matter what subject you prefer, (or even what medium you are in)

If you are not a Beginner


Artists develop in different ways – especially those who have thus far been self-taught.   The problem with being self-taught, is often you don’t know what it is that you don’t know!   And believe me when I say it is what you don’t know that can be the problem to your development.

I am such an artist.  It was many years ago I realized that to make any ‘real’ progress and develop my work, I needed to know the basics – the Core training in the Academy.   I bet you can identify with that.   Over the years it is astonishing how many artists I have met who are stuck in a rut – some recognized names amongst them, who are exactly that, and realise that to progress and get out of the rut, they need a period of learning things that they were never exposed to before; if they were to progress and grow.


 The Academy Training Programme


 How the Training is Organised


Academy Themes /Core Training/Silver Members


Academy Themes are at the core of the training

Each ‘Theme’ runs for a period of time eg  6 weeks or 8 weeks, or more,  much depending on the content involved.    The great advantage of this plan is that no matter what your ability level – you can all work to the basic theme, and learn from each other.     So much is to be gained in your learning when bringing various threads together to support your theme.

How this works

If the theme this period is Tonal Values – you will not just be learning from the Tonal values modules, but we might add modules from drawing or sketching,  portraiture,  landscape,  Introduction to pastel,  and more. This way you can all work at your own pace and pack as little or as much information in as you wish – not forgetting that the courses will be there whenever you want to backtrack, and you will begin to see how all the threads work together.


Academy Themes /Gold Members


Academy Themes can be at the core of the training in Gold Level training too.

The Gold Level Training is far more project and assessment based but keeping to a theme when learning any creative discipline does pay dividends.

So Gold Level Projects can also run to the current theme.   Go to the Gold Level Training Page.

Tonal Values


Tonal values are the basis of the light and shade in your painting.

More paintings fail to succeed through poor tonal values than anything else I can think of.

So Tonal Value modules include:

  • Values in landscape compositions.
  • The problems with photography and values.
  • The part tonal values play in bringing your art to life.
  • Why lack of balanced tonal values leads to more failed paintings than almost any other issue.
  • How Tonal values in portraiture are more important than colour.


 Pastel Introduction 


will give you a good understanding of the medium.   A little about where it comes from, how it is made, and what to use etc.   The module includes;

  • The beginnings of pastel as a medium.
  • How pastel is made.
  • How to use pastel.
  • Pastel paper and specialist surfaces.
  • Different kinds of pastel work.
  • How to extend your palette.
  • Learning initial layering techniques.

This training builds your Core knowledge and once again I know some experienced pastel artists will back track to take a look at it.

The really important module in this training is the pastel colour swatch and what it teaches us about how to understand pastel.


Colour Theory


Probably one of the most effective and useful of all core painting lores.     Understanding how artists use colour theory will take your work to a different level.   Modules include:

  • What Is Colour Theory.
  • How to Use colour theory
  • Colour Theory in Landscape and in portraiture, and Still Life.
  • The benefits of complimentary colour.
  • When to use analogous colour.
  • How to plan the mood and atmosphere in your work.
  • Bring drama into your painting.




No matter if you want or need to work from photographs – knowing how to avoid compositional mistakes is important.   And knowing a little about what makes a really good painting composition can improve your work – sometimes from failure to success.   The modules in this section include:


  • The importance of a Focal Point.
  • The rules of Thirds (The Golden Section)
  • Composition and what format to use (landscape, portrait or square)
  • The Importance of the Light source.
  • How to compose from photos.
  • Composition in portraiture.
  • How to edit your photos to make great paintings.
  • Good design in paintings.


Beginners Drawing/Perspective


Not just about getting roof lines the right angle.  But most important if you do like the idea of painting townscapes or buildings for sure.   But perspective also helps us understand facial features in portraiture, and how to give the impression of distance in landscape.  Modules include:

  • simple proportion and composition
  • elliptical perspective
  • tonal values and shading techniques
  • foreshortening
  • negative spaces and how to use them.
  • Shading
  • Buildings in the landscape
  • People in the landscape
  • Using grids for scaling up and down.
  • Vanishing points and eye levels; what do we need to know.
  • Viewing frames and perspective.

Is probably an area where most artists who have received little or no training, will want to learn.





Sketch Like a Pro  is a series of video trainings with downloadable exercises where appropriate.   Sketching is another one of those fantastic skill builders which brings with it many benefits – not least of all,  ‘training the artists eye’.    Fun to do in it’s own right, and pretty important when it comes to planning your paintings as you progress in your studies. Included in the sketching programme:


  • Simple mark making
  • Sketching in pen and graphite pencil.
  • Sketching the landscape
  • Sketching people
  • Sketching from photographs
  • Tonal sketching for planning your paintings
  • What can we learn about sketching from the Great Masters.


Portrait Drawing


How to draw a portrait – this training includes the facial map and a look at each facial feature.


  • The Facial Map
  • Drawing techniques for facial features.
  • Focus on the Eyes
  • Focus on the Nose.
  • Focus on the Mouth.
  • The head in Perspective.
  • Texture in portraiture.


The Training road map is a guide to help you identlfy where your experience level is and also what it is you might be needing to concentrate on.   This is not an exact science of course – but I have developed the road map to be an aid and a guide.  Take a look at it by clicking on the tab below.

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