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How to Paint

Brush up on those painting techniques you haven't used since you were in kindergarten and smearing paint with your fingers.
How to Paint is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 194.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tremendous I’m only at Lesson 8 and already I’m loving working with acrylics. In my sketching color has been an afterthought. Learning about value, volume, and shadow has added a freedom to my art. Prof Allman has already increased my fun working with colors, but also has given me a way to figure out a style of my own.
Date published: 2022-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from How to paint Clouds and Rocks Sorry, but I haven't had time to really use the Course material. I'm not a fan sitting in front of a computer and the Video running. I'm a beginner painter in Oil. Self-thought most of what I know as of today. I mostly went for the review title above. Otherwise, besides someone else's technique, I feel I know most what I feel is good for myself. Thank you.
Date published: 2022-11-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Still Has Not Arrived I will be happy to write a review when the product arrives. I have been waiting for it for three weeks.
Date published: 2022-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun course even if you don't plan to paint Two of us watched these lessons together, one an artist who wanted to learn more about techniques and the other who wanted to learn more about art. It was perfect for both of us. The professor demonstrates methods very clearly, with a nice mixture of creativity and humor.
Date published: 2022-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How To Paint I love this class!!! The instructor is wonderful. It is such a treat to actually watch someone paint, and teach so much about the concepts of painting.
Date published: 2022-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Program for Expanding Painting/Art Skill I have been involved in creating art with assorted media for years. But I felt the need for skilled instruction in the "art" of painting. This program allows me to study/practice at my own speed and in my home and am very happy to take advantage of the sales price to add this excellent painting program to deepen my awareness and skill with painting with various media. Thanks Great Courses...a brilliant idea!
Date published: 2022-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great introduction to painting I am very happy with this course. As someone who has little artistic talents, this series helped me understand some of the basic principle of painting. Like most new skills it's up to me to practice in order to develop my own style. I would recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn the basics of painting.
Date published: 2022-08-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I was disappointed in the course The course material was not very helpful to me and if I could get a refund I would appreciate giving it back. Sorry.
Date published: 2022-08-27
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Master the fine art of painting with an award-winning artist and professor.


Ricky Allman

I don't want to look at something if it isn't aesthetically intriguing. And secondly, it also has to resonate on a level that goes beyond fads or trends–there has to be something elementally human for someone to respond to a work of art 10, 50 or 500 years after it was made.


University of Missouri, Kansas City

Ricky Allman is a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC). He received a bachelor of fine arts from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a master of fine arts with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Mr. Allman’s paintings often appear as landscapes, cityscapes, and psychological landscapes. Utilizing the geographic features from his childhood in the Rocky Mountains, modernist architecture, and gestural abstraction in his work, he presents an indefinite future—a complicated and frenetic world of colliding forms often in the moment of origination.

Mr. Allman’s work has been exhibited internationally in Denmark, England, France, Belgium, Scotland, Morocco, Paraguay, and New Zealand. In the United States, his work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and other cities. Mr. Allman’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Vice, Harvard Business Review, Harper’s Magazine, The Kansas City Star, Juxtapoz magazine, and Wallpaper* magazine.

Mr. Allman is the recipient of a UMKC Trustees Faculty Scholar Award, a UMKC Faculty Research Grant, a University of Missouri System Research Board grant, a Charlotte Street Visual Artist Award, and a Studios Inc residency.

By This Professor

How to Paint
How to Paint


The Painter’s Toolkit

01: The Painter’s Toolkit

Begin by learning how to embrace the physicality, messiness, and freedom inherent in the earliest stages of a painting. Professor Allman demonstrates how to practice loose, dynamic paint strokes using your entire arm—not just your fingers and wrist—and also goes over some of the basic supplies you will use when starting out.

25 min
Getting Started: Surfaces and Brushwork

02: Getting Started: Surfaces and Brushwork

You have your (acrylic) paints and your brushes, now what? First, learn what kinds of surfaces are best for beginning painters and how to choose the one that works for you. Then, follow Professor Allman as he walks you through a demonstration on creating gradients, and get to know the kinds of brushes you will use to achieve different lines and effects.

23 min
Fundamentals: Establishing Value

03: Fundamentals: Establishing Value

Value—the spectrum of light and darkness in an image—is crucial to the way our brains translate images into meaning. See why understanding value is more important than understanding color, and develop your ability to pinpoint value differences in your subjects. Follow along with a demonstration on how to break an image down into its fundamental values.

25 min
Fundamentals: Building Volume

04: Fundamentals: Building Volume

This lesson opens with a brief look at the rendering of three-dimensional forms using light and shadow, known as volume, and why it is easier to achieve than you might think, once you know how to look at the effects of light. Paint geometric objects using your new understanding of light sources, cast shadows versus form shadows, and reflective effects.

22 min
Fundamentals: Basics of Color Theory

05: Fundamentals: Basics of Color Theory

Understanding color is about discerning the subtle differences in value, hue, and saturation. Professor Allman introduces practical color theory and shows you how to break colors down into a simple matrix so you can create the shades you need. Learn how to directly mix paints and the principles of optical mixing as you create your own 12-step color wheel and value scales.

28 min
Fundamentals: Creating Color Palettes

06: Fundamentals: Creating Color Palettes

Why is color like musical notes? In this second look at color, learn how context and interaction is key, and why a limited palette of four or five colors can be surprisingly powerful. Create a quick painting from a monochrome reference image, using just four colors, while utilizing ratio, value, and temperature to do the heavy lifting of the piece.

32 min
Fundamentals: Compositional Choices

07: Fundamentals: Compositional Choices

Step beyond the basics and explore broader elements of painting. Look at arrangement and composition, exploring ideas of symmetry, hierarchy, dynamics, and more. Discover why traditional approaches like the Golden Ratio aren’t the only options for arranging your work, and end with a sketching session to explore how to plan your work before you start painting.

17 min
Putting It All Together: A Simple Landscape

08: Putting It All Together: A Simple Landscape

Apply everything you have learned so far and paint a simple landscape with acrylic paints, based on a photographic reference. Professor Allman goes over all the tools you will use and leads you through the process of sketching, beginning with mapping major, medium, and small value areas and finishing with details.

36 min
Creating Linear Perspective

09: Creating Linear Perspective

Like value and volume for objects, linear perspective will help you create the appearance of architectural space on a 2-D surface. Though it can be challenging for even experienced artists, the principles are actually fairly simple. Master elements of linear perspective and then put them into practice as you follow along with Professor Allman‘s demonstration.

43 min
Creating Atmospheric Perspective

10: Creating Atmospheric Perspective

Explore the ways you can create the illusion of large distances using the techniques of atmospheric perspective, including making objects more or less distinct and creating contrast between the foreground, middle ground, and background. Practice creating a grand sense of space with a simple landscape of hills and mountains.

26 min
Putting It All Together: A Still Life

11: Putting It All Together: A Still Life

Hone your observational skills and develop your personal creative perspective as you tackle a still life composition. Professor Allman’s demonstration will help you bring together all the techniques you have learned so far while still allowing you to arrange your own subject and to make crucial decisions about value, proportion, and more.

33 min
Working with Oils

12: Working with Oils

Oil paints have been the most popular painting medium since the European Renaissance. Transition from acrylics to the traditional realm of oil paints, exploring the many benefits—blending and transitions, texture, the rich pigments—while also learning how to deal with some of the more challenging aspects, such as varied drying times and toxicity.

44 min
Traditional Oil Techniques: Grisaille

13: Traditional Oil Techniques: Grisaille

Continue your foray into oil painting, starting with the versatile, monochromatic underpainting technique known as grisaille. Create an underpainting from a reference image, utilizing paint that has been thinned to create a smooth surface for the overpainting. After your underpainting is complete and dry, progress to adding thin, luminous layers of color.

39 min
Working with Acrylics

14: Working with Acrylics

Return to acrylics to explore their advantages and disadvantages and how to use techniques that are particularly suited to them: glazing, sanding, and masking. Explore different mediums you can incorporate to slow drying time or change paint consistency, and watch Professor Allman as he begins work on a street scene in acrylics.

30 min
Playing with Mediums

15: Playing with Mediums

If you don’t touch paintings, why is surface texture so important? As it turns out, the visual surface quality of a painting can trigger the area of the brain that processes tactile sensations. Experiment with mediums you can incorporate into your acrylic paints to create a variety of textures, from high-shine glosses to gritty pumice to the watercolor-effect of absorbent ground.

39 min
Painting Water and Clouds

16: Painting Water and Clouds

Dive into the challenging diversity of the natural world, starting with bodies of water and clouds. First, identify common elements and look closely to determine color temperature and value areas. Then, work from simple structure to finer details as you build up your painting. Finally, add shadows and highlights to capture shape and atmospheric conditions.

38 min
Painting Trees and Bark

17: Painting Trees and Bark

Take advantage of the immense varietyies of trees to create natural compositions and experiment with various shapes and textures. Professor Allman leads you through a demonstration focused on building up different types of trees from basic shapes to foliage and bark texture, including techniques to suggest leaves and needles without excessive detail.

37 min
Painting Rocks and Mountains

18: Painting Rocks and Mountains

It’s not what you paint that makes an interesting work: It’s how you paint it. Even something as mundane as a rock can be compelling; as you will see as you undertake a study of rocks using chromatic grays. Learn how to create shades of gray from complementary colors as Professor Allman captures the variety and complexity of stone in a simple landscape.

37 min
Painting Light

19: Painting Light

You have looked at the interaction of light and shadow, now broaden your look at the effect of light through the lens of the four main aspects you should know: type of light source, brightness, color, and direction. Professor Allman’s demonstration focuses on several strategies for painting light using a candle as your source and subject.

27 min
Painting Glass

20: Painting Glass

Engage with a subject that can intimidate even seasoned painters: glass. Learn how to focus on what can be seen through glass objects, rather than on the glass itself, to capture its unique properties. Undertake a simple glass still life, using highlights and shadows to suggest shape rather than outlining or blocking.

31 min
Painting People

21: Painting People

In the age of instant photography, why paint portraits? Professor Allman discusses the amazing ability of portraits to capture truths about both the subject and the artist, as he introduces you to the proportions of the human face and then demonstrates how to “build” your portrait in much the same way you have tackled previous subjects.

47 min
Getting Creative: Composition

22: Getting Creative: Composition

Up to this point, Professor Allman has focused on the tools and techniques of representation. Now, turn your attention to the ways you as an artist can explore new ideas and techniques to tap into your own creativity. Consider how to find and use a variety of references and materials, closing with an exercise in painting using tape to explore the figure-ground relationship.

34 min
Getting Creative: Surface and Texture

23: Getting Creative: Surface and Texture

Further stretch your creative horizons as you leave traditional tools behind and explore new materials and techniques. Featuring four different demonstrations, this lesson will show you how to utilize unique painting surfaces, paint with palette knives instead of brushes, incorporate other media into your paintings, and add collage to your repertoire.

30 min
Getting Creative: Space and Dimension

24: Getting Creative: Space and Dimension

Conclude your lessons by freeing yourself from the boundaries of realistic space and, with some guidance from the work of M. C. Escher, use perspective in inventive ways. Learn how to let go of the constraints of realism and transform the two-dimensional surface of your painting into a space where your imagination can take flight.

34 min