Hello to all the brave painters out there! I had the great pleasure to teach a two day workshop in wonderful San Francisco and wanted to share some impressions from the weekend. The topic of the class was sketching, contrast, and the art miniatures. Students came away with a working knowledge of the sketch style approach to painting miniatures of all levels and so much more. Let’s take a closer look at the class and all that it had to offer.

The day before class some of us went on a little trip to the museum of the legion of honor to get inspired by their amazing collection of sculpture and painting. This is always a great way to get inspired to teach and share my passion for painting, sculpture, and art.

After that I was pumped up to teach and hit the ground running. The first day focuses on the most important type of contrast: Value. We cover the use of dramatic lighting to get the most out of any miniature. Students learned to hone their vision of the model through the application of diffuse light, directed light, and bounce light.

Next we talk about materials and how they react to the light. Students learned to represent reflective surfaces like metal without in a realistic manner that depends on the light source rather than rote learning. We also learn about representing textures like fur, wood, carbon fiber and others in a streamlined method that anyone can easily grasp. Daunting concepts like object source lighting become easy to understand and grasp through our study.

All that theory is great but what really cements it is seeing it’s application. So next I sit down to sketch out some models. First I sketch slowly and explain the process I use while demonstrating the wide variety of subjects we just covered. Students get to see the vision of the model come to life and start to plan how they will apply their unique vision to the practice models.

Before I turn the students loose on their own models I want to show the incredible time benefits afforded by the technique. So I pop on the fast music and sketch a model at full speed. After only 20 minutes we have a finished sketch that looks striking and dramatic even from across the table!

By this point the students are primed and ready to attack their own sketches. We take the practice models and personal projects outside to apply the primer. If we apply two-tone primer in a thoughtful way, instead of just blindly spraying from above, we’re already well on our way to a great looking miniature.

The students were amazing and created some really amazing visions for their figures. Already you can see the powerful use of contrast on the figures.  By the end of the first day everyone has at least one finished sketch and many students had multiple sketches finished and ready to go for day two!



Day two starts with lessons on color properties and the theory of color mixing. Through hands on exercises students learn to identify the various properties of any color.

Once we have practice with the color properties we can learn how they interact. Most color theory classes focus on color composition, but for this class I wanted to focus in on a subject that is hardly ever taught: color mixing. I teach the students to leverage their new knowledge of color properties to predict the outcome of mixing colors. This unlocks huge potential because they can match colors they see, recreate the colors in their minds, and even mix colors accurately from the primary colors.

Now we learn how to get those beautiful colors on the figures through glazes. Through demonstrations students learn about glazes and the finer points about paints and inks that they will need to know to successfully apply them over the their sketches. Without this knowledge a we run the risk of covering the sketch up ruining the advantages afforded by the sketch. Glazing is incredibly useful and every top painter has learned to use the technique in their own style. Which means learning about glazes is essential no matter your preferred method of painting.

To cement all the lessons we’ve learned to this point I crank up the music and paint a model at full speed from start to finish. 40 minutes later we have a finished tabletop miniature and the students excited and ready to apply all they have learned!

This is the model I painted for the full speed demo 40 minutes tart to finish

The students are released onto their miniatures painting with passion and bravery. I’m always nearby to provide a helping hand and critical eye. Everyone applies the new knowledge and I’m impressed by the speed of their learning!

The results are surprising even for me! I am super proud of these great students. I wish you could see all of these model up close!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this unique workshop experience. Check out our Events page for classes coming to your area.  Or contact us to become a class organizer for your Local painting group!

Until next time Paint Bravely my friends!