Evolve Artist Class Notes 2021


Here is a list of all the Evolve Artist recorded weekly live classes from 2021.

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 2021 classes:

  • Evolve is not just about oil painting. By going through this program, you will learn how to see like an artist, how to translate your art skills to different mediums, even how to be a better photographer (!)

Notes on Classes

Proportional Measuring

Thursday, January 7, 2021
In this live class, Piper discusses some simple proportional measuring techniques to improve your accuracy.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Why Intent Matters

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Kevin explains why intent is important for artists, both for professionals and beginners. Bonus explanation of the gradient technique as well!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

  • Two kinds of abstract painters: One does it on accident. Another has an intent, intelligent design behind the chaos of application.
  • All paintings have: Value, color, and edge
  • Two kinds of abstract painters: One does it on accident. Another has an intent, intelligent design behind the chaos of application.
  • All paintings have: Value, color, and edge. You want to be in control of these three parts.
  • Kevin: First pass portrait is more organic or chaotic, and then he tightens up the edges on subsequent passes.
  • If you have intent, you know what you want and use the skills you have to bring that intent to live to the degree you can.
  • Intent means you know where you’re walking to. Like walking toward a flag in a field rather than wandering around without a goal.
  • In art, intent is the first step.
  • As an Evolve Student, you have many little flags in between. One painting is made of thousands of individual intents, decisions, in the direction of the finished work.
  • If you make all the steps with intent, you will make it to the final goal without even looking at the final goal.
  • Ex: Gradients
  • First step is a shadow and light, smooth and even, bump up against each other with no gaps. So first worry about the two shades.
  • Now you’ve met that goal, second goal is buffer: A value right in between two shades. Same amount of paint as shadow and light, not thick and heavy layer. Tattered edge.
  • Next, the admixtures.
  • Don’t do paintings. Do STEPS. Baby steps.
  • Things get hard when you start thinking of them in terms of “do a painting.” Do steps without worrying about what came before or after. Do each step to the best of your ability.
  • Eventually, you’ll stop thinking about the individual steps.
  • Live in the moment, think of one step at a time.

What to Expect in the Evolve Program

Monday, February 1, 2021
An explanation of each block, from 1-8, and how you can best prepare for each one!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

  • This will help you plan ahead!

Foundation program

  • Block 1 – Grayscale
    • Focus on: Edges, value, oil painting technique
    • How to hold, paint, clean your paintbrushes = foundational approach
    • Reflections and highlights
    • 20 paintings
    • Start simple because there’s a lot going on
    • Halfway through the block, we introduce reflections and highlights. Edges get more complex, value more intricate with highlights/reflections, how to expand and contract gradients for more complex things
    • Final painting of a pumpkin: understand value, control edges. By the end you don’t have to have perfect technique, but must understand value and edges.
  • Block 2 – Painting from Life
    • 8 drawings, 10 paintings still in grayscale
    • grayscale from life
    • proportional drawing and painting.
    • The first 10 exercises are drawing so you know how to set up a still life and draw proportionally.
    • When we start painting, it’s back to basics, simple stuff. Slowly add information with each exercise.
    • We don’t want too complex paintings. Better to have higher accuracy lower complexity than the other way around.
  • Block 3 – Color
    • 20 paintings
    • Alternate between painting from photo and life
    • color paintings, mix color, make color shadows, reflections and highlights
    • Go back to basics even more than block 1. Eliminate gradients and color shadow. Just mixing lights, then grayscale and shadows.
    • Mixing color can be complex, need a lot of practice, so keep it simple. Simplified shadows.
    • If you take big jumps in education, you lose a lot of information.
    • 2nd half of Block 3: Slowly increasing complexity while maintaining accuracy in value, edge, color. Also add back in reflections and highlights.
    • Block 3 is about preparing for block 4. For each block, think about and prepare for the next block. Block 4 requires extreme commitment to color mixtures, value range, control of edges. Ask if you’re diligent with color mixing and edges.
  • Block 4 – Direct painting
    • 8 paintings
    • Really intense, requires much focus and time, moves much slower
    • Super hyperrealistic paintings
    • Start in grayscale as we learn new approaches to painting. We move methodically and slower to capture every detail. Be specific in edges, be accurate and committed.
    • Then we move into color.
    • You get to choose from a set of photographs, organized by complexity.
    • Takes a lot of intensity. Big jump from Block 3.
    • End of foundations program. You can purchase advanced if you want.
    • Most artists use different techniques

Advanced program

More geared toward a professional mindset. Segue into establishing your voice as an artist.

  • Block 5 – Vacant shadows
    • 26 paintings
    • advanced value and edge control
    • less is more is the theme.
    • Alternate painting from photos and life
    • Only painting with lights, more thinking than painting. Because there’s no erasing paint. Needs precision.
    • Your background is your shadow.
    • You’ll learn feathering which is like gradients.
    • Developed from a Dutch master technique, like Rembrandt. Striking bold beautiful lights, shadows fall back. Similar to how we see things.
    • As you move through the block, pics increase in complexity and add color.
  • Block 6 – Speed painting
    • 20 paintings
    • Quicker approach, piper uses
    • relies on value control and color
    • piper uses this one the most
    • A layering technique, start over in grayscale for simplicity. Edge and value are essential. Start from darkest lights and lightest shadows and move in opposite directions. It’s a process of building.
    • Has a feeling of glowing, atmospherically. Very popular technique.
    • Final pass is glazing for glow and dimension. Control your edges, you can do razor sharp or fade into background.
  • Block 7 – Puddling
    • Looser, more relaxes, like impasto layering paint, soft edges, reflections and highlights, textured
    • Fun, energetic way of painting. Similar to impasto. Instead of blending paint, you add paint to create gradients, light and shadows
    • These paintings are done in one sitting, unlike Block 6 which takes multiple days.
    • Pairs well with speed painting.
  • Block 8 – Mastery block
    • 20 paintings
    • Given photos which are all master copies
    • And the other half is combine all techniques (pick at least 2, challenge yourself) to do personal choice painting (can be landscape or portrait etc) this is where student hone in on their own style, goal, niche
    • Students of Rembrandt learned by re-painting his paintings. Your goal is to try to get the same results as old masters.
    • Bounce back and forth between master painting and your own choice. You can take your own photos or find your own photos.


  • 3 moving parts of any painting
    • Value: lightness or darkness of a color or light/shadow
    • Edge: Sharp edge vs gradient (how light interacts with objects)
    • Color (not until block 3)
  •  Currently only 8 blocks, but do have plans for more
  • Advanced block is the same price as Blocks 1-4.
  • Students have completed Blocks 1-4 in 4 months up to year plus. Average one year each half.

Live Q&A

Monday, February 8, 2021
Piper and Kevin answer commonly asked questions. Extra information on lighting!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Comparison – Live Call with Kevin Part 01 + 02

Monday, March 22, 2021
Kevin discusses how we compare what we do to the people around us and how to level up your mindset for success.

Monday, March 22, 2021
Part 02 of the conversation on comparison. Answering the question “What happens if I lose my transfer lines while I paint?”.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

  • When you compare yourself to the old masters, you’re making them different from you. Yes, they did make up techniques as they went, but the truth is they were solving the same problems as you re: values, colors, edge. They took great care with what they did and elevated the craft, but what they did is attainable today!
  • Art academy teens can produce this stuff today, large scale pro work.
  • Comparison holds people back. When put the “old masters” on a pedestal, you put a glass ceiling over your own head. You limit your development.
  • “That kind of thinking will hold you back in ways you can’t even imagine.”
  • Kevin thought at first he just wanted to be 80% of Dorian Vallejo’s level. But then he changed it to think he could be not just as good, but BETTER. And he did. Made the first commission before them.
  • I can deliver 100% of what I offer 100% of the time.
  • Anytime you put something on a pedestal, it becomes a barrier.
  • You can do better through a commitment and labor. It’s not free, but if you put in the energy, anything you want as an artist you can have.
  • Sometimes minor issues can make paintings look terribly degraded.
  • Don’t just think “I know it’s just an exercise and I’m done with it.”
  • Nothing is done until you decide it’s done. If you know what to do to improve, do it. Don’t stop until you’ve exhausted everything.
  • Don’t make comparisons to the work around you to decide when you’re done.
  • NTS: YOU decide when you’re done.
  • Be aware of what people are doing, but don’t use them as your standard. YOU deliver the best you have every time you sit down. Be honest with yourself. Most of us only deliver 20%. Most of us don’t care about the vast majority of what we do. How many of us make gourmet meals for dinner? A lot of things in life we can get away with that. But you can’t paint like that. You can’t do anything meaningful like that. When you do meaningful things, set the bar as high as you can.
  • Kevin: I never put a mark down that wasn’t the best I could make it.
  • Anybody who goes through Block 1 knows more than Kevin did when he retired from illustration career.
  • 90% of art is just taking the time and not cutting corners.
  • Don’t compare. You don’t know what their story is, or what else is going on.
  • All you can control is the quality of your personal deliverables.
  • You’re only in competition with yourself, and that’s a competition you control, and you can win it every day.
  • Questions:
    • While working on a piece and having a question, should I use the homework tool or book a 1 on 1?
    • If you have time, email Piper. If you have more time, schedule a 1 on 1 or use homework tool.
    • Block 3 is about values and edges: If something doesn’t look right? Look at values first. Take the position of a spectator without brush in hand and look from five feet away, and you can see better. This is how non-painters can spot issues in painters’ work.
    • Look at and count the shadows, are those five shadows comprised of the 2 values allowed for shadows? Same with lights. Two proper shades for lights? Next, gradients. Are they in place? Form shadows: where are they, how many? Are there gradients? Are they smooth and clean? Are all sharp edges crisp and clean?
    • Do the painting over in your head in minutes to proof your own work.
    • When you move to color, same: Are all your shadows darker than all your lights? It’s a simple question. Are your shadows grayer and your colors colorful? Gradients in the right place? ARe your edges sharp?
    • This gives another layer of confidence. A process for finding mistakes before you go and ask for help.
    • Remind yourself what shadow and light are supposed to do. TELL yourself, don’t just assume you know. All shadows must be darker than lights. Gives you the ability to proof your own work.
    • —You can’t fix a painting if you just ask “what’s wrong with the painting?” You need to compartmentalize the components!
    • How do I get rich colors?
    • Clean your brush. Put richer colors down first. Watch contamination in your palette. The more colors you have stuck in your brush the muddier it gets/the more color is degraded. Have several brushes.
    • Kevin uses a diff brush for each color. Even 30 colors for a portrait.
    • Another thing: Everything is relative! If shadows are really gray, colors really pop.
    • Do all your shadows with one brush, then each of your lights with different brushes. If that fixes the issue, you know that contamination was your problem.
    • What is light will always be lighter than the shadows. NEVER put a shadow shade in the light. We’re not in the bix of replicating. That’s photography. We start with replication just for training.
    • Art is an illusion. Painting is colored mud on a flat surface. What brings it to life is the illusion of 3D, skin feels like skin, distance feels like distance.
    • But we need rules to make the illusion work. Ex: All shadows must be darker than all lights.
    • Why? Because we want it to be crystal clear what’s in the light and what’s in the shadow, or else you shatter the illusion since there’s no clear pattern. Doing these things creates consistency so your brain buys the illusion.
    • Don’t break this rule ANYWHERE in the painting.
    • Put a couple black objects in your shadow box and shine on it and see how it looks.
    • Maintain the illusion, don’t just paint what you see.
  • How do you build up the right mindset shift?
    • You stop comparing. We’re in control of our thoughts. You decide.
    • How do you know if you’ve given everything you have? Where is your reserve energy? We are capable of more than we realize.
    • Good enough is never good enough. Don’t rush something.
    • Rushing will ruin a painting! Take your time.
    • To be successful in art you have to enjoy the process. Don’t gulp down your candy. Make it last. It’s not about getting to the finished painting, but about enjoying the peace and quiet as you work.
    • Aspire to excellence, not perfection. Excellence is the best you can do at that point in time. Be in the moment. Do it for yourself, not for anyone else.
    • Take more time on the homework to guarantee you get the skills.
    • Da Vinci: Once you master one thing, you’ve mastered all things.
    • It’s like raising a child carefully. Stack the odds in your favor. 7 hours a week for a year and you’ll be a pro.
    • —The only thing that stands between you and the program is the attitude you bring to the paintings. Not the attitude to the program, but the attitude to EACH PAINTING!!!
    • Hold off the urge to cut corners, and you’ll be wildly successful. And it’ll be a habit.
    • When you’re successful, it’s easy to be patient because you see what the value is.
    • Diets would be super successful if they worked immediately. But sometimes you see nothing for weeks. You have to believe at the end you’ll be where you want to be.
    • It’s easy to be impatient and hurt yourself, like Kevin comparing himself to recovering from surgery and going to the gym and not rushing.
    • Don’t think whole program or whole painting. Just think one step at a time.
  • What to do if you lose a line when transferring?
    • If you follow instructions, you won’t lose a line when transferring.
    • Like driving on freeway when raining, the conditions determine the speed at which you work. Slow down until you get control of your car. Same with painting edges. Slow until you make no errant marks.
    • And make sure your transfer is BLACK enough.
  • MY Questions
    • When are you doing too much? Ex: Corners not perfect, but if I keep pushing I may make it worse.
    • Kevin’s mentality of giving it your best versus the prolific > perfect attitude?


Creating Paintings from Imagination

Monday, March 29, 2021
Kevin discusses how he worked to create sci-fi landscapes during his illustration career and walks students through a few of his paintings that he designed props for.  

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Finding your Niche

Monday, March 29, 2021
Piper discusses how to start finding a niche for your work, what that means, and who can benefit from it.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Creating Depth in Your Artwork

Monday, May 3, 2021
In this video, Kevin shows how to create depth using value, edge, and color on a composite photo for a painting.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Evolve FAQ Session Part 01 

Monday, May 10, 2021
Kevin stops by to answer a few student questions regarding future Evolve curriculum!

+ Evolve FAQ Session Part 02 

Monday, May 10, 2021
Piper answers frequently asked questions about the Evolve Program, blocks 1-8.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

Questions for blocks 1-8

  • Block 1
    • Should I worry about gradients?
      • Don’t worry, you’ll be working on them through entire course.
      • Schedule a one on one if you need help so instructors can see what you do and help it
      • Tip: Make buffer big enough to avoid sharp jumps.
    • How do I get my paint to stay longer?
      • Rehydrating your oils: Once your paint is dry it can’t be brought back to life. Oxidization is the end. Plan ahead to know when you are going to work.
      • If you need to work over days, use clove oil. A paint box helps too.
      • If your oil is getting stiff, lay out fresh paint.
    • How many brushes should I be using?
      • You don’t have to save your brushes. You’ll get more brushes in your boxes. Use them all. Take care of them, clean them fully.
      • Keep some sharp for details, use the fuzzy ones to fill in.
    • How do I order the next block?
      • Halfway through block 2 you will confirm your address to get the next box
    • When do I need to make the shadow box?
      • 2nd or 3rd exercise
      • You can use soup cans, tennis balls for first painting
    • When do I do gradients?
      • Do it how Kevin does: object first, then background. This is  so you have somewhere to rest your hands on the painting, and because background is for cleanup of edges, etc.
    • What about saving paint?
      • Don’t recommend it, clove oil will stretch it one day or two, but better to throw away and start fresh.
      • You have enough paint for 100 paintings.
      • At most, lay out half the amount of paint to avoid waste.
      • Freezer doesn’t really work. Oxidization ends the paint.
  • Block 2
    • I never measured from life, can I do this?
      • You have many paintings to practice, you’ll get a spreadsheet, no worries.
    • How complex should my still lives be? +
    • My proportions don’t look right, what do I do?
      • Schedule a one on one: maybe you’re bending your elbow, setup not right, etc.
      • Often it’s setting up still life wrong. Don’t be too complex. Set up for success. Master a simple still life and make Very incremental increases like turning objects to a different end or bumpy shadows, etc.
      • Keep it simple to focus on technique and accuracy!
  • Block 3
    • Some colors seem thick, do we add oils?
      • You don’t have to add oil, unless you want a smoother consistency. Piper adds a tiny bit of linseed, but far less than blocks 1-2.
      • Feeling between grayscale and color paint is different because grayscale is really dense while color already has more oil in it.
      • Try it first without adding oil.
    • How can I improve my color mixing? + 
    • Do I need more info on color mixing?
      • There is tons of info about there about color mixing.
      • Experience is more important than color theory. You can read a little, but it’s really about practice. You need experience and experimentation. Mix what you see. Over time you’ll improve.
      • How to experiment properly? There’ll be a video in the block.
      • One exercise: Grab a color they think doesn’t belong in the spectrum, and see what happens. Change one component of a color that you think won’t work and mix it in to see what it does.
      • If a color doesn’t look right, don’t accept it, keep experimenting.
    • When I take pics, there is a slight variation is that okay?
      • Try to play with lighting, editing lightly, etc. Try to get accurate photo colors.
    • Do you go into color relationships?
      • We don’t go in depth, you’ll learn more in master copies
    • For a color chart, how to mix?
      • White is cool, Naples yellow is a cooler yellow. White takes color out, if you want to keep colors bright, use Naples yellow.
      • Keep it colorful!
    • What if hue is wrong? Will we be given colors?
      • Occasionally if your mixture is way off, instructors will help you.
      • But best way to help you learn is not to tell you. The instructors will decide.
    • Can we change up inside of still life box?
      • Yes you can use construction paper or fabric. Avoid really light or really dark colors.
  • Block 4
    • How many of these paintings will we be doing? Am I moving too slowly?
      • These paintings will take longer than blocks 1-3 because we’re approaching differently. Not shadows, lights, gradients, reflections, highlights. Instead, we’re moving from place to place methodically across the canvas rather than all shadows, all lights etc.
      • More exacting. Build attention to detail, stamina, focus.
      • If you feel you’re moving too slow or redoing things, reach out to instructors.
    • How many of these paintings will we be doing?
      • 8, all from photographs
    • How long would it take, working full time?
      • Depends on painting. 7 hours a day would be done in a couple days on Ben Franklin painting.
      • Shouldn’t take longer than 15 hours per painting. Not 100 hours.
    • Do we paint like this in the advanced block?
      • Direct painting is hard and beautiful and you can use this technique for life, but if you want to move faster, that’s what the advanced block is for.
      • It’s slow and satisfying, direct painting.
    • How many layers do we do?
      • We don’t do layers, we move side to side. No underpainting.
    • What’s the definition of direct painting?
      • It means you’re painting each detail exactly as you see it.
      • In Blocks 1-3 we have two edges only. In Block 4 you may have a direct shadow with a fuzzy edge.
    • How can we draw without seeing pencil for light paintings?
      • 2 things: bulk up your painting by adding different colors for density or use less oil. The other is not to press too hard on your transfer. Just visible enough lines. You can use light eraser to lighten them.
    • My grape painting isn’t sparkling?
      • May be too much white in your paint. Light parts of grape not all white.
  • Block 5 – Vacant shadows
    • We never touch the shadows, only lights.
    • How do I get my edges softer?
      • Powder the edges out. Only works if paint density is right.
      • Tip: Don’t use medium in the paint. Or you lose control of edges. Use no or little oil.
    • How do I get rid of those transfer lines?
      • Be gentle with tracing, use some eraser.
    • Are my values too dark?
      • Your canvas is brown, not black, which isn’t very dark. It’s a challenge!
    • How can I set up a better still life for this technique?
      • Shadows are half the painting. Pick a still life with thoughtful shadows. Can you turn your object to create more visually interesting shadows.
  • Block 6 – Speed painting
    • How do I make sure my values are right from the beginning?
      • Layering paint, thinking of values. We do it in 3 layers. First layer, values are really close. Lightest darks, darkest lights. Second pass, after it dries we paint on top of it and move values out farther. Third pass, push shadows add brilliant highlights, glaze.
      • The key is values.
    • My paint seems to be lifting in third pass!
      • We seal our paintings with this technique. Wait until paint underneath is dry before you seal paintings or it’ll smear. Check EVERYWHERE. (But you can use paper towel and wipe it)
    • My edges are not quite soft enough, where am I going wrong? 
    • What to make sharp, what to make soft?
      • Soft edges for depth. Will learn more in Block 6
  • Block 7 (Impasto) + 8 (Direct observation/personal choice)
    • You’ll be going back and forth from master copy to your own choice. You’ll learn their style, but through making your own decisions.
    • How do I avoid physically mixing my paint for gradients? 
    • How long does puddling take to dry?
    • Why are we doing master copies?
    • How to choose what to paint?
    • What about material we use to paint on?
      • Piper prefers linen over masonite or wood. Although more expensive.
      • You can use multiple surfaces, even glass.
    • What were people preparing linen with before gesso in the 1950s?
      • Not sure. Will have to look into it.
    • How to frame?
      • You could glue linen to masonite or cardboard. Use the right glue (check ph level) and make sure painting is dry.
    • Difference between or linen and stretchable canvas?
      • Fredrickson? linen isn’t available larger.
      • Linen vs cotton use different primers, weights, etc.
  • Asking Kevin questions
    • Will there be a block 9?
      • Do intend to do blocks 9-12. Program always being fine-tuned. Must clean up earlier blocks before moving on.
      • Redoing 1-4 and 5-8 before moving on to 9-12
      • Block 9 will be atmosphere, impression of atmosphere. See Kevin’s lecture from last week on soldiers (FB page) using value color and edge to create depth.
      • Block 10 will be portraits and figures or maybe just faces and hands
      • Block 11 will be photography, how to set up your studio, lighting, a crash course, even with no budget.
      • Block 12 will be advanced painting, large scale paintings like we do in live class. You come up with your own concept, your own models, photo shoot, your own prints, properly stretch canvas, etc. Probably 3 paintings, increasing in size to 3 x 5 foot. To make monumental paintings.
      • We’re fleshing out a YT channel.
      • Monthly live calls with Kevin on FB


How to Fix Mistakes in Your Paintings

Monday, May 17, 2021
This live class goes over the two important questions you need to ask yourself when you think there are errors in your work.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Creating a Believable Portrait

Monday, June 7, 2021
Kevin explains how to reframe portrait painting and breaks down the subject into manageable steps.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


June New Student Q&A

Monday, June 28, 2021
Join Piper as she goes over frequently asked questions from new Evolve students!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

  • Homework
    • What separates Evolve from other programs is homework submissions!
    • Kevin: Welcome and do what Piper tells you. We’re serious about the training, want everyone to succeed.
    • When can I expect homework back? 
      • M-F homework checked twice a day. Sat/Sun shifts checked mid afternoon EST.
    • Who is checking my homework?
      • Michael, Dmitris, Karen, all grads of the Evolve Program. Liam like Piper grew up in Kevin’s studio, did an abridged version of Evolve.
      • They are grading based on Kevin’s curriculum. It’s not opinion.
    • How many exercises in each block?
      • 2 portions: Foundations Program and Advanced Program. they are separate.
      • For Foundations, 20 exercises in Blocks 1-3, and 8 exercises in Block 4.
    • Can I rewatch an assignment once I’ve completed it?
      • You can rewatch vids for all time.
    • Should I redo an assignment if I didn’t do it well?
      • Unless asked to by instructor, DON’T REDO
      • If we have a backup redo we won’t do our best.
      • Remember you can always apply what you learned to the next painting
    • How to get in touch with instructor who gave feedback?
      • Email hello@Ea.com, use homework tool, or email Piper for clarifications.
      • You can’t go back and ask in a completed assignment, but you can ask in a new assignment. Best thing is to email hello@EA
  • Painting materials
    • Will I run out of paint?
      • You have enough grayscale for 100 palettes.
      • Can buy through Old Holland directly, reach out to customer support. But can’t buy in stores.
    • Why are we using professional quality paint?
      • Old Holland are best, densely pigmented paints.
      • That way materials won’t fight you. Most “student grade” paint is over oiled and low on pigment.
    • Should I save my paint if I have extra?
      • Yes if you use clove oil. But if you start a new painting, recommend starting fresh.
      • Chances are you’ve contaminated your old paint.
      • Fridge/freezer thing won’t hurt your paint, but Piper says it doesn’t work
      • If you’re using clove oil it’s always WITH linseed, not alone.
      • After 5-6 hours, paint sets up if you don’t use clove oil.
    • Should I be saving my brushes?
      • You’ll get more brushes. Rotate through your brushes to keep them all up. Use fuzzier brushes for bigger things, sharp brushes for details.
      • Evolve: We never officially tell you to use the 2 brush, try to avoid AMAP especially for gradients and filling in areas.
      • Smaller paintings create more texture and take longer.
      • Piper prefers a sharp 6 brush.
      • How often to wrap brushes? You can use plastic wrap from morning to evening, but no more than 8-10 hours. If you let oil dry in brushes, you will damage them.
      • Try not to get paint in clothes. If you catch right away, use dish soap. Once it’s dry in cloth, you can’t get it out.
    • Why can’t I use my own brushes?
      • Everything in the program is specifically chosen and tested so instructors know everything you’re using.
  • Curriculum
    • What can I expect in each block?
      • Block 1: Grayscale paintings from photos
      • Block 2: Proportional drawing in grayscale (first drawings, then paintings)
      • Block 3: Color painting from life and photographs. Start with color mixing and grayscale shadows, then adding gradients, reflections, highlights. Will need still life box.
      • Block 4: Direct paintings from photographs. 8 intense methodical paintings working across the painting rather than shadow to light, etc. Blocks 1-3 are pillars, preparing you for this.
    • What’s the difference between the foundations block and the advanced block?
      • Block 5: Vacant shadows. Painting with light from direct observations and photographs. 20 paintings, from life and photos alternating. Think more than you paint.
      • Block 6: Speed painting. Layering paint as you go. Adding glaze as you go, semi-transparent paint on top.
      • Block 7: Puddling. Like impasto. Building up paint, thick, choppy strokes. Not so methodical. From direct observation and photograph.
      • Block 8: Mastery block. Back and forth between master copies and personal interest. Emphasize doing master copies, seeing things through their eyes.
    • What happens if I can’t complete program in a year?
      • You can keep going.
    • When will my second box be shipped to me?
      • You’ll be prompted halfway through block 2. You’ll see a big orange button.
    • Can we get customized boxes, if we’re running out of certain brushes?
      • No, they’re standardized. But you can try using different brushes.
  • Community
    • What happens each week in the Evolve community?
      • Go to Events page.
    • How do I join a study room and what are they?
      • Place where students meet to paint, talk, ask questions.
    • How do I schedule a one on one?
      • Office hours MTWF. Piper does MTW, Dmitris does F.
    • What happens during live classes?
      • Anything! Just paint and talk. Live classes are topic based. Just started a public series for Facebook. Live class each Monday.
  • Other questions
    • What kind of solvents do we use? In block 6, use alkid from Old Holland, speeds up drying. Lower smell.
    • What to do about lighting? See help center. Full spectrum LED lights are ideal. If bright light, over your head and back a bit, tip your easel to reduce glare.
    • Ideal light: CRI 90+ and Kelvin of 5K


Avoiding Issues & Mistakes in Each Block

Monday, July 12, 2021
In this live class, Piper discusses how to avoid mistakes in each block, and what you can do to fix any issues that arise in your paintings.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Tools to Increase Focus and Motivation

Monday, July 19, 2021
Piper goes over a few easy ways that you can capitalize your focus and motivation while in the Evolve program.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

  • Piper recently experienced burnout last May-June. No motivation to make personal pieces. Recognized it and stopped.
    • Focus = center of interest, activity
    • Motivation = reason, desire, willingness of someone to do something
  • Make a plan in different areas:
    • Long term goals
      • Don’t need to be as specific
      • Ex: pursue career in portraiture or landscapes
    • Short term goals
      • More solid. 2 months down the road
      • Ex: finish block one
      • Use a calendar
    • Daily goals
      • Piper does weekly and daily goals
      • Stressed out if daily goals too structured. Need some wiggle room
      • Gives herself a mistake day each 3 days to fix issues
      • With blocks 1-3, expectation is clear. But as you move through Block 6+, you need to work in a day for space
      • Even just an end goal for the week is good.
    • Goals per painting
      • Piper doesn’t focus on this as much. But in blocks 1-3, review your feedback and have a goal for the next painting. Ex: You want to focus on sharp edges.
  • Set up your space
    • Having a specific space for art is very important!
    • Kevin’s first studio was a broom closet.
  • Find likeminded people
    • Piper needs people to look and give feedback on work
    • Study groups are good for motivation
  • Take notes and reflect on feedback
    • Piper has notebooks filled with info from Kevin classes. Many of them are incoherent to her now.
    • Document your journey. The more you reflect, the more you’ll improve!
    • With all feedback, ask yourself “how can I use this to make the next painting better?
    • One student prints out feedback and keeps it on the easel.
    • Often when we read things online it just goes over our heads. If you want to mark something up, print your comments! Slowing down and writing makes you learn better.
  • Schedule your painting sessions in ink
    • Think of it as a class!
    • Piper did 2.5 hours a week twice a week (5 hours a week) at first.
  • Read, visit museums, surround yourself with artists
    • Know what’s going on around you
    • Jumpstarts creativity, get ideas for other things
    • Ask how is this artist handling value, color, edge?
    • Wherever you are in the program, apply what you learn to what you see in the world around you, in the work of other artists
  • Challenge yourself (or let us challenge you!)
    • For Piper, she got over burnout by doing more work (ironically).
    • Every three months, Evolve runs a challenge. Ex: 30 day challenge, calculate how long you work and tally it up. Think about how much time you’re investing in painting.
  • Take a break, but know yourself!
    • Ideally, don’t take a break for 2-3 months. A couple days or week is okay.
    • Have a plan, be careful how much time you take off.
  • Talk to an instructor and discuss future plans. Get excited!
    • Piper talked to a student who plans to OWN the golden retriever niche.
    • If you have ideas, talk to instructor! They love it too. Selling art, wondering what to do with your skills, expand and go in different directions, etc.
    • Your plan should make you excited and want to be there now.
    • Liam worked digitally, Kevin worked in illustration and portraiture, etc.
  • Share your work
    • So many students sold work by sharing on social media.
    • Social media isn’t end all be all but can’t hurt!
  • How do you balance inspiration with deflation when seeing work of people better than you?
    • When you see someone better than you, break it down technically, WHERE are they better than you? How does that impact your work?
    • When you have your own site, it’s your work vs your own work. Visitors won’t be comparing it to others’ work.

Non motivation related question

  • Shadow box: Does the light have to be from the side?
    • Yes, need dynamic light and shadow by having light from the right or left. Light should be slightly from above and to the side.
  • What to look for in a lamp?
    • Doesn’t have to be fancy. Just enough to get crisp lights and shadows.
    • Desk lamp with stands and adjustable necks, reading lights okay but avoid rectangles that cast funny shadows.
    • Think Pixar logo lamp.
    • When in doubt, send a pic to instructor to get the okay.
  • Should I paint a black and white great grandpa photo in color?
    • Piper advises no, since you don’t know their skin and hair coloring.
    • Colorizing old photos is really hard.
  • Have hard time telling diff between moderate and extreme shadow in color?
    • First make the value judgment, take a pic, put it in grayscale to check your work.
    • If you often run into a problem where all your shadows looking extreme, could be your light is too bright. Move it away to your objects slightly.
    • Problem with lighting is sometimes ambient light is too much in the box.
  • How to paint a signature on your painting?
    • If you’re painting on a wet painting, do it the way you do regular details
    • Try to sign your paintings halfway through the painting when the background is done
    • Use a #2 and lots of Medium so it flows nicely
    • Signature brush won’t work on a dry painting
    • Practice first
    • One student uses a sharpie pen. Piper recommends NOT using ink on oil paintings. Don’t know the permanent effect, so prefer signing with oil. It’s traditional.
    • Sign your paintings! Signatures are difficult. Took Piper 2 hours to sign a painting once.
    • Piper got a graphic designer to make her a model to look at when signing.
    • As best you can try to sign as if it’s part of the painting. Think color, placement, size, style, same medium (oil paint)


Meet the Evolve Instructors – Part 01

Monday, July 26, 2021
Meet the Evolve Instructors
Meet the team here at Evolve! Liam, Michael, and Karen share their experiences in the Evolve program, selling and exhibiting art, and working in the digital art world.

+ Meet the Evolve Instructors – Part 02

Monday, July 26, 2021
Meet the team here at Evolve! Liam, Michael, and Karen share their experiences in the Evolve program, selling and exhibiting art, and working in the digital art world.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

  • Piper tries to create a “new student class orientation” every few weeks for new students
  • Everyone is here but Dmitrist because it’s 3am where he is
  • Will also share about Kevin and Daniel Folta
  • Not talking about entire team, Cristine and Priya

Kevin Murphy

  • Check out his live classes to hear him talk about his career, interesting and inspiring
  • He started as a commercial illustrator, sci fi book covers, owned an illustration company. You can still find his books at bookstores.
  • Then he moved into portraiture. Last design project was Rolling Stones before painting actors, etc.
  • Then he founded the Art Academy to teach and give back. Designed to teach realistic art faster, and the foundations of making quality art accessible to all.
  • Somerset NJ location
  • From the Art Academy came Evolve

Mitch Bowler

  • Owner and Creator for Evolve. Worked with movie and game companies, lighting and rendering, lots of titles. Working with Call of Duty now.
  • Founded Pencil Kings blog and education site.

Daniel Folta

  • Marketing and YouTube guy
  • He started at Kevin’s school at the same time as Piper
  • Portrait Artist. Danielfolta.com. Worked with freemasons portraits. Does narrative pieces too.
  • He has his own channel and talks about his paintings.

Piper Talladay

  • Started at 16, now head instructor of Evolve
  • Loved art but didn’t believe she had natural skill to do it until learning from Kevin, doing the Evolve program for about two years, taught kids painting and charcoal drawing
  • Now paints horses for commissions

INSTRUCTOR TEAM: We’ll spend most of our time with the following people

Liam Jurkowich

  • Overlapped with Piper during studies.
  • Only one who studied full time with Kevin in NJ. All other instructors went through Evolve.
  • Digital artist purely. Went to Gnomen (?)
  • From Hillsborough NJ. 10 years old in 2010 and started drawing with Kevin.
  • Did charcoal for a few years, then the foundations with Kevin one month, 5 hours a week, ended with a self portrait. Then painted weekly, did first big painting, then another one the year after, then the advanced technical program, like blocks 6+7, then the full time program.
  • Wanted to go to Gnomen since freshman year, digital art. Played video games, cinema, concept art.
  • Starting with traditional set up well for digital because there’s no ctrl+z, or throwing on multiple layers. Have to be precise and intentional.
  • Using lots of references is critical! Quality references. No shortcut for this. Lighting, edges, form.
  • Michael, commenting on Liam’s work: He watched the making of the Mandalorian, and learned a lot about game tech.

Michael Boehl

  • From central Illinois, came to Evolve through Pencil Kings in mid 2016 started drawing then found Evolve 2017
  • The language, the guarantee, the desire to see if he could prove Kevin wrong was what drew him to the program.
  • Chose to follow Kevin’s instructions exactly and not use different instructors. For beginners, better to keep it simple and clear. Don’t get overwhelmed with different curriculums. Choose one educational path at a time and devote yourself to it.
  • Lucky to have an art gallery nearby, planning to open his own school there.

Dmitris Miliotis

Karen Briggs

  • First instructor to go through newest version of Evolve
  • From southern Maine
  • Started in HS and went to U of Maine for art
  • Jack of all trades, master of none at first
  • Lost job because of COVID signed up for Evolve from Youtube
  • Want to do a cross between landscapes and portraiture
  • 6 months to go through Blocks 1-4 and got really focused
  • Piper advice: if you’re struggling with something, think how you would teach it.

The rest of the video is Piper showing off various instructors’ featured works…

Keeping Color Simple for Painting

Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Kevin and Daniel Folta discuss color and how to keep color simple while painting.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Q&A w/ Piper

Monday, August 16, 2021
Join Piper as she answers student questions, from values to technique, in this live class!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Gradient Tips & Tricks

Monday, August 30, 2021
A few additional points to keep in mind as you work through the gradients!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]

  • NTS: Also in the Help article


Evolve Artist Teaching Methodology

Thursday, September 16, 2021
Evolve Founder, Kevin Murphy, and Daniel Folta discuss the methodology behind Evolve and why we use realism to education artists.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Still Life Composition

Monday, September 27, 2021
Piper discusses several easy ways to improve your still life composition and a few technical ways you can level up your Evolve direct observation paintings!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Block 4 Mindset and Advanced Techniques

Monday, October 4, 2021
Piper discusses the linear process of block 4 and how you can prepare yourself (even in block 1!) for this advanced block.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Art Careers Made Real with a Background in Art

Thursday, October 14, 2021
Join Kevin and Daniel Folta as they discuss different types of careers that Evolvers have pursued and what some of those careers might look like with a background in art.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Painting Contracts Part 01

Monday, November 1, 2021
Join Piper to discuss contracts, and how and why to use them when taking commissions.

+ Painting Contract Part 02

Monday, November 1, 2021
Join Piper to discuss contracts, and how and why to use them when taking commissions.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Finishing, Signing, and Varnishing a Painting

Monday, December 6, 2021
Piper discusses ways to know your painting is done, how to sign, and how to varnish your paintings.

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]


Live Critique

Monday, December 13, 2021
Join in as Piper reviews 4 students’ work from blocks 1 and 4. Thank you to the four students who submitted work for the critique!

[Some of this content is available for patrons only!]