Evolve Artist Class Notes 2019


Here is a list of all the Evolve Artist recorded weekly live classes from 2019.

Color code:

  • Green = For total newbies/beginners (like me!)
  • Red = Mindset
  • Blue = Professional, monetization, career-related
  • Purple = Technique
  • Orange = Q&A, Critiques
  • Pink = Other

Overall Thoughts

Here are some of the most important things I learned from the 2018 classes:

Notes on Classes

7 Steps to a Successful Still Life

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Piper explains what to focus on to get a good still life setup, how to make a simple setup into a more interesting one, and how to find balance in your composition.

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  • TK

Giving Yourself the Opportunity to Evolve and Grow

Tuesday, January 29, 2019
In this live class, Kevin shares a side by side comparison of a skill he is currently learning and explains how we are limited only by the boundaries created in our own mind.

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3 Tips for Photographing a painting

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Piper gives three easy tricks to capturing the perfect photograph of your painting.

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What Painting and Sudoku Puzzles Have in Common

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Kevin explains why art making and sudoku puzzles are closely aligned and how considering sudoku when you work can help you to create accurate paintings.

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  • This is why we teach the program the way we do.
  • Shadows, lights, gradients, edges are the obvious things.
  • If something is wrong, you can always remove it.
  • Portraits emerge from placing values, colors, and edges. Don’t think of it as a whole portrait.
    • Then you do reflections and highlights.
    • And now you work on the harder stuff.
    • Like with a portrait: Shape of head first, then shadows, then fill in lights and gradients, then features…Look at the face one little thing at a time.
  • Evolve is about trying to create an easy Sudoku puzzle. The teachers have placed all the easy numbers so you just need to figure out the last few numbers.
  • What DO you know? What is step 1? Fill in the shadows. Then move on from there. That’s how they teach the cherub, because people always get stuck there.
  • When you feel overwhelmed, start with what you know.
  • There are no risks all the way through Block 3. But Block 4 is more risky, more complex sudoku puzzle.
  • No matter how big or complex a painting is, Step 1 is always Step 1.
  • Anchor your strengths, tackle the easy stuff first.
  • Question: How do we tackle the lion painting?
    • You’re turning that painting into a monster
    • There are still the same 3 moving parts: color, value, edge
    • Start on background and work your way forward. Then shadows, and etc.
    • Don’t jam a whole sandwich into your mouth!
  • When mixing colors on a palette, organize the shades in order
    • Block 3 and 4 will talk about a heirarchy of colors
    • The painting is a result of a well thought out palette. It’s the launchpad for everything.
  • Go back and watch the videos again when you are halfway through the block!!!
    • Because you have no frame of ref the first time you watch
    • Once you’ve done a few paintings and you rewatch, you’ll learn more
  • Block 4 will be mixing painting from life and from photo. It’s easy to paint tight from photo, but you need to mix.
    • You should be able to do it all so that you can make art the way you want to and aren’t forced to do it only one way.
    • If Kevin was asked to do a live painting, he’d do a few weeks practicing head shapes, and then a few weeks doing more details, and then final weeks doing full projects as practice.
  • Why do we only use Filbert brushes?
    • They’re the most versatile. You can’t create broad textures with a single brush.
    • Kevin will do a brush demo later on.
    • For the most part, synthetic brushes are fine. Some sable brushes can do other things. Delicate work, don’t move oil around much. Bristles are the opposite (can use for grass, etc).
    • Don’t buy expensive brushes until you know what you’re looking for, texture-wise. Ex: A deerfoot brush — unless you have a use for it, it’s a waste of money.
  • Final thought
    • Painting should not look like paint. Flesh should feel like flesh, metal like metal, etc.
    • If you’re struggling, Kevin is there for you. Will even call people.
    • Giving you the vocab to do what you want to do.

How to Prepare a Panel

Thursday, February 28, 2019
In this live class, Piper discusses a few ways to prepare a canvas, board, or linen to be painted, and explains what it means to “seal” a painting.

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10 Misconceptions about Oil Painting

Thursday, March 7, 2019
Piper debunks the most common oil painting myths, from the notion that oil paint is very toxic to the misconception that it is cheating to paint from a photograph.

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Live Painting Demo

Friday, March 8, 2019
In this live painting demo, Kevin utilizes speed painting, vacant shadows, and puddling to show the progression of a portrait.

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Expectation and Experience in Seeing

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
In this live class, Kevin explains how our eyes take in info and based on expectation and experience create an image that our brain then decodes.
He also discusses how looking for relationships can help artists from becoming blind to our paintings

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One Artist’s Path

Thursday, March 14, 2019
In this live class, Piper shares her path from zero knowledge of technical skills to now consistently selling work.

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Winning and Losing Attitudes

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
In this live class, Kevin discusses winning and losing attitudes, and how critical a winning attitude is for succeeding as an artist.

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Measuring Angles and Openings

Thursday, March 28, 2019
Piper explains how to accurately measure angles every time, even on objects that recede into the distance, and gives some tips for measuring the openings on bowls and cups.

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Where Do Ideas Come From?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Kevin discusses where ideas stem from and explains that if you want to be creative, you need to get as much experience as possible.

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Understanding Value

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piper gives several examples of why having an understanding of value in your art work is important and explains why value is the key to the illusion of light.

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Choosing the Right Still Life

Thursday, April 18, 2019
In this live class, Piper discusses appropriate still lives for each assignment from the beginning of block 2 until the end of block three.

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How to “Steal” as an Artist

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Piper explains the value behind master copies and how to borrow from other artists’ work in a way that is educational and not plagiaristic.

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Brush Tips and Techniques

Thursday, May 2, 2019
Piper discusses the different brushes used in Evolve, her own collection, which brushes work best for which techniques, and how to properly care for your tools.

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What to Do When You Make a Mistake

Thursday, May 23, 2019
In this live class, Piper discusses a few questions you can ask yourself when you’ve made a mistake in a painting, and how to decide whether you should correct it.

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How to Think Like a Professional

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Kevin explains how to do more with the skills you have. Professionals have lots of tricks, but the majority of their work is done with a relatively simple skill set. It’s more about how they think that sets them apart.

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How Much Should I Charge for My Paintings?

Thursday, June 13, 2019
In this live class, Piper discusses a simple way to create a pricing structure for your art when you are starting out.

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Begin to Find Your Niche

Thursday, June 20, 2019
Piper explains some ways to find the niche that may work for you as an artist.

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Intro to Social Media for Artists

Thursday, July 11, 2019
In this Q&A Piper discusses some social media techniques, and why you should utilize social media as an artist.
Links discussed in live class can be found here:

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How to Sign and Varnish a Painting

Thursday, July 25, 2019
Piper explains how to sign your painting in a way that suits the piece and how to easily varnish a finished painting.

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How to Choose a Quality Reference Photo

Thursday, August 15, 2019
In this live class, Piper discusses some ways to ensure your photograph and still life will make a quality painting.

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Art Competitions, Shows, and Fairs

Thursday, August 29, 2019
In this live class, Piper discusses the Pros and Cons of doing an art competition or art/craft fair, while several students also share their experiences in this area.

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Value in Grayscale

Thursday, September 12, 2019
Piper discusses the importance of value in grayscale and how to assess and assign value properly.

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Beginners Guide to Evolve

Thursday, October 10, 2019
Piper discusses what new students can expect from Blocks 1-4 and two Evolve veterans share their experience in the program.

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  • Piper starts by asking about the backgrounds of some new students, then introduces homework groups
  • Will talk about: What we’re learning, what we’re trying to achieve
  • They used to start in charcoal, black and white. The point of block 1 is value and edge. The difference between light and shadow.
  • First exercises are light and shadow. Anything in light gets extreme or moderate light paint, only.
  • When looking at something, first thing is to look for light.
  • Paintings are Mae of light and the absence of light.
  • Rule: no light can be darker than a shadow. Remember this when painting from life.
  • Sharp edges are very important in art. Without that, paintings don’t come into focus.
  • Determine hierarchy: What’s the darkest? The lightest? Everything else is in between.
  • Block 1 paintings increase in complexity, tricky decisions with values, little details like cat eyes. And now starting to do more subtle things not always straight lines.
  • Angel painting is for teaching values and edge.
  • Block one gives students confidence.
  • Then we move into proportional drawings. Keep it simple draw from life, measure things to be correct. Nothing crazy.
  • Then they move into paint: keep palette and brushes clean, but technique stays same. Making gradients.
  • Then simple images with no reflections or highlights.
  • Block 2 teaches controlling value and edge, bouncing between copying photos and painting from life.
  • Why not color? Bad habits when we do too much, too fast. We cut corners and that’s a bad habit.
  • Start simple, build a strong foundation.
  • Block 3: Move into color
  • Piper ends with a QA and people ask about using pencils and pencil sharpeners eating pencils faster or slower.
  • Then she asks a couple Block 8 advanced students to talk about their experiences.
  • In general if you have warm lights, you have cool shadows, not warm lights warm shadows.
  • In the beginning NO highlights and reflections. Keep it all solid and simple and as 1-value as possible. (Self control is important, don’t jump ahead)
  • Toning canvas: a silver dollar of acrylic paint, a tablespoon of water, then foam roller the rest

Studio Tour

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Kevin walks through the new Art Academy location and answers student questions in this masterclass.

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  • Ideas are more powerful than information
  • People knock out Block 2 in 20-30 days. Kevin did all the drawings for the block in 60 hours.
  • 3000 sq ft space
  • In person studio has a la carte charcoal drawing classes
  • Most paintings in the studio are HS students. Did most of the ref photographs in studio.

Kevin sits down to chat

  • When people try to learn something they keep trying to add info
  • But being able to paint proficiently is simple. Being amazing at it is different, but if you want to be professional, you just need values, edges, color/temperature.
  • Every painting even Sistine Chapel is merely one color value against another color value with an edge in between.
  • Once you start seeing art that way, it’s manageable.
  • It’s like adding a hundred-digit number when you know how to add 1 and 2-digit numbers
  • Amateurs and pros are separated by commitment. Good enough vs stay with it until its perfect. Pros do leave errors, but NEVER ERRORS THEY’RE AWARE OF. As you get better and grow over the years you will see more and be better.
  • How you know when you’re a pro: When your improvements become tiny.
  • It doesn’t take much to make it to professional level work.
  • Blocks 2+3 are just a couple months each
  • Blocks 9-12 are in the works. Point is to get people to produce full paintings from scratch on their own:
    • How to do photography, set up studio, how to do photos, how to print, how to source material, how to stretch canvas, how to prep masonite
    • Too much info for mini classes. Were going to be mini classes, but it was too much.
    • Photography how to set up studio on a budget of under $200
    • How to do photoshoot with lamps and iPhone to produce quality
    • Mitch doesn’t like to talk about anything that’s not already done 🙂
    • Block 9 = atmosphere and texture, tricks of the trade, technique that isn’t fundamental, but for ex, all fabrics must feel different. Visually you get a tactile memory. Paint so that a visual impulse brings up a tactile memory.
    • Block 10 = portraits, hands, hair, etc.
    • Block 11 = photography studio
    • Block 12 = blank canvas to finished painting, sourcing materials, etc. Never buy a pre stretched store bought canvas.
      • The idea is after block 12 you won’t need Kevin anymore. 4ft x 4ft painting. Also learn how to manage your schedule as a professional artist.
  • Student asked why he started with charcoal?
    • Charcoal used to be entry point, used to weed out non serious students. The school was his side income at first, part time gig for only career artists. People who graduated from art school but didn’t get the education they needed.
    • Charcoal develops critical skills
    • But he realized it was counterproductive. Wanted to do a serious version of Bob Ross = make art accessible to more people. He made people feel they were entitled to create, and that’s good. 
    • Kevin teaches everyone as if they’re interested in a career.
    • Planning to eliminate pencil from the program by the end of the year.
    • The knowledge is the same whether painting or pencil.
    • Kevin has done block 1 videos over 20 times.
    • Changing to start with paint to make entry point easier for all.
    • Why use easel? Because it’s better for your posture. You won’t get tired as fast. Even with charcoal, minimizes gravitational pull to make gradients easier.
    • Don’t stress out about how long things take. Go at your own pace.
    • At age 17, Kevin got extremely sick, but kept running for four minutes, got back in shape, then got sick again, and recovered again. But kept fighting for what he wanted.
  • How did you get into licensing work?
    • Kevin: mostly through an agent, although you don’t need one. Much of it was freelance illustration.
    • One of his students noticed Disney prints on cruises sell for a lot. Then thought that so many of these images could be produced as fine art, not just cartoons.
    • Know your market. Disney is always in the market. High school musical was written by someone not connected with Disney, and he got it in front of Disney. Now he gets residuals from it.
    • So producing classically painted images that were derived from the original fairy tales, but not too close to Disney so that she could sell them herself if Disney didn’t want it.
    • The market for prints is greater than for originals because of the price range.
    • Ex: Famous image of man and woman dancing with butler and maid holding umbrellas over them in the rain. It hit the licensing jackpot, because of its broad appeal.
      • NTS: This is like music, too. Like the Fight Song.
  • Commercial art is cartoony, storytelling, different from gallery art. Confused about career paths. I don’t have connections in the gallery world. How do you get from point A to B?
    • Before you start deciding where you want to go, see where your skills develop. There are tons of roads in every career. You can do illustration, design, galleries, etc. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. It’s the same skills.
    • Don’t shut things down before you even see where it leads. Leave your options open. See where you like to spend your time.
  • How to shift my mindset long term?
    • Don’t make long term goals. Do what you need to do. How do you know a particular cuisine will be good for you until you try it?
  • Older students all want to paint their grandchildren
  • Kevin doesn’t care about the end result finished paintings, but about the process of learning. Don’t sweat the end result, just do the best you can in the process!!
  • Kevin is always available, if you need something, reach out.
  • Wed morn best time to visit the studio and tour. Had a student named Ian from China who came.


The Three Moving Parts of Any Painting

Monday, November 4, 2019
Piper explains how the three moving parts of any painting look in blocks 1 – 7

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How to Take Your Painting to the Next Level

Thursday, November 21, 2019
Ever wondered how to take your paintings from good to great? Then you might want to listen to this live class!

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Live Class with Kevin

Monday, December 9, 2019
Join Kevin, Mitch, and Piper for a live class with conversations on seeing results, studying, and improving as an artist!

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