The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Become an independent artist Become an independent artist not by simply mimicking any instructor but by developing your tool set for applying your own creativity. Pro. Brody analyses palette, mood, and value of paintings throughout the ages so you learn a variety of methods and techniques that can be incorporate into your personal style. The explanations of why a painting has stood the test of time are invaluable. I established the good habit of using Pro Brody’s insightful self-critiquing questions. I learned the most from exercises to giving the sense of depth by using hue, saturation, and value. There are hours of enjoyment after the lectures are finished and I refer to the course guidebook.
Date published: 2020-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Guide to Essential Italy Learning is always beneficial, no matter where you are at in life. Great Courses, especially in this time of self isolation, are a wonderful gateway to learning opportunities! The courses are well thought out, the instructors/professors are knowledgeable and interesting. I have purchased several courses and I am enjoying them all...instructional and informational.
Date published: 2020-07-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Draggy I'm really pushing myself through, instead of being pulled in by this course. The teaching method really seems to drag out and it's hard to recommend this. I'm hoping that since it say's "Lessons from the Masters" that another teacher will be speaking, but I really wish i hadn't purchased this.
Date published: 2020-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Complete Painter I also have purchased this professor's " How to Draw " Course, and I am studying both, lock step! It's obvious that I have not completed all of the lessons in the courses, but I am convinced I will benefit greatly from them. I had done well in City College and wanted to continue. These course are like having a private tutor, and I am very happy to be able to take them from professor Brody. I will try to keep my progress updated if it can be helpful to others.
Date published: 2020-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As an intermediate level hobbyist painter, this course is outstanding. Professor Brody is excellent with explanation and demonstrations. Further, he uses recognized works to illustrate concepts under discussion. There is so much on several levels with this course making it of value to all artists, regardless of experience. The exercises and the accompanying course guide are challenging and excellent. I have seen Prof. Brody's How to Draw series, and, like this one, it is outstanding. Well, worth my money and time.
Date published: 2020-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing information David Brody is one of the most knowledgeable instructors I have ever had. Learned so much and he is very easy to learn from.
Date published: 2020-05-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Master painters The course like the previous one is very good but the book that goes along is lacking in details making it harder to do the extra work
Date published: 2020-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Course This professor is outstanding. His drawing course is equally outstanding.
Date published: 2020-05-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Didn't play on my (newer) BluRay Player ... ... Never had this problem with Great Courses videos before. Replacement copy likewise seized up my player. Fortunately, disks play on my laptop but that's not my preferred way of viewing. I have -- and it plays -- Brody's course on Drawing. This one is equally good. Hope this technical glitch doesn't plague others. This is the last purchase from you for me.
Date published: 2020-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Instructor I am half way through The Complete Painter and have learned so much already! Never dull, fast moving, sometimes I watch the same Chapter twice, take notes, then try the exercises. Amazing presentation!
Date published: 2020-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course The Professor is a great teacher. I have taken many art classes in my life and am just getting back into doing this as a hobby. I am still learning new things and his way of presenting the material is very good if you are interested in an in-depth art study. This is framed as a college level class, so if you are just looking to follow someone as they paint and don't care about the minutiae of the different brush types, this is not likely the class for you, but if you are serious about painting, I highly recommend.
Date published: 2020-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Very Impressive. Worth Ten Stars. I highly recommend this robust and carefully organized painting course. Topics are covered in depth and the instructor provides a great deal of supplemental information. Among the things I particularly liked were his detailed discussions of materials, composition, and the integration of cross-cultural and historical information. The exercises build on one another so it is easy to feel successful from the beginning. As an art history type of person, I also want to note that his use of art historical examples is exemplary. For example, he shows how two paintings that may appear very different at first glance share compositional attributes. Within this, he'll also point out how both gestural and carefully composed elements are mixed within a single work, in effect compelling you to look closely at how pictures are put together. Because the course offers so much I am finding that each lesson leads me to spend a great deal of time experimenting after I watch the video. For me, it is the "homework" that makes the course particularly useful. I'm glad I found this course. It is amazing how thoughtful it is and how well it communicates to the viewer. I've never taken a painting course in person from an instructor this good. Also, if you want to learn to paint or buttress your skills, this is course to choose! The Ricky Allman How to Paint course in the Great Courses catalog is terrible, one of the few bad courses I've run across here.
Date published: 2020-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 10+/10 Course; 3/10 Guidebook It is impossible to say enough good things about this course. Professor Brody could be taken at any level of painting interest. The best would be as a serious oil paint study though the course is very helpful for watercolor and acrylics. Brody’s method is coherent and measured. No weirdness, just a great and talented teacher who, I am convinced, could teach in his sleep. The course answered questions, improved technique, shortened my learning curve, and gave me an appreciation for the massive effort artists make. Brody goes the extra mile by providing “cartoons” of the artwork you will paint. You then transfer these to canvas by a rather clever technique. He provides every step of the painting process, from find huge jpeg files for the art covered, how to enlarge them for reference, compromises possible, brush care & technique, paint behavior, the reasons we see the old Masters differently than modern art, lighting differences in studios, specific brushes and brush techniques, art vernacular, etc. The minimum you should do on your own are the color palette swatches with the colors that you own and spend time mixing paints to observe the rather surprising results. Later he will clearly explain why things sometimes go in unexpected directions. Brody uses a limited number of paintings, each of them picked for a particular purpose. The reasoning for each choice clearly develops as the course goes on. By the end, every piece of art has earned its place in this course. Professor Brody even shows you how to build wooden art equipment in his garage. As someone with a lot of power tools, it made me smile. After going through things once, Brody then expands on each area because you are ready. Finally, he goes through specific art projects. Though my favorite was the Corot Landscape, each project built marvelously on prior projects. I noticed that most of the artists discussed in the lectures lived into their 80s. My wife notices the calm that my own painting produces. Acrylic “miniatures art” is my inexpensive gateway to painting. Of the 10 visual principles (L16), miniatures are limited to value contrast, color, level of complexity, & subject. Below are my attempts at demonstrating these principles via 1.5-inch models. Brown colors were quite difficult before Brody, but the model “base” shown is made almost exclusively with Brody’s Earth Tone Palette. For me, it was these browns were a triumph. Someday, to paint my beautiful wife’s portrait…with Brody’s help it is possible! CONS: The guidebook is long on large non-essential photos. Worse, it covers only the first ¼ of most lectures. The worst example might be L19: a list of paint price tiers and quantities that belongs in the appendix and unhelpful pics of used paint tubes. Yet the lecture itself had extremely valuable information about how to read paint tubes labels, the origins of paint color, pigment classification, vehicles, and binders. What a shame. Take a lot of notes OR buy the transcript. These problems, though irritating, do not alter my admiration for this Great Course.
Date published: 2020-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great for the hobbist. It goes with his lectures in "How To Draw". It goes with the additional art books and courses I own.
Date published: 2020-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very thorough in the basics!! I've had several beginning oil painting classes and remained confused until I got this DVD. The course is extremely thorough and clears up all of my questions. I especially like being able to watch Mr. Brody's demonstrations.
Date published: 2020-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Presented The Complete Painter is a comprehensive, informative, and relative series of lectures that lay out the principles of fine art painting in a format anyone can follow. Based on the amount and quality of information covered, this course is a bargain.
Date published: 2020-01-02
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The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters
Course Trailer
The Grand Tradition of Painting
1: The Grand Tradition of Painting

Humans have been painting for more than 40,000 years and creating pigments for more than 300,000 years. You’ll join that great tradition by making your own pigments and paints in this lesson. Learn why the masters began their careers by copying others and why this is the best time in history to learn to paint.

33 min
Health and Safety in the Studio
2: Health and Safety in the Studio

Oil-based paints are considered the most versatile medium for painters today. But with pigments, oils, and solvents comes the potential danger of toxicity and combustion. Learn how to take proper safety precautions—reading the Safety Data Sheet and product label for each item you buy, ventilating the room where you paint, and properly disposing of hazardous waste.

33 min
Basic Painting Materials
3: Basic Painting Materials

What are the “must-haves” for your workspace? Learn about necessary supplies, including paper, pencils, additives, brushes, and the six specific tubes of paint you’ll need for your first palette. You’ll also learn why so many painters rely on the mahl stick—and how to build your own.

25 min
Studio Setup and Brush Care
4: Studio Setup and Brush Care

Make sure your workspace meets your specific needs and preferences. Explore your lighting options for both natural and artificial light and learn how they impact your painting, palette, and subject. You’ll also learn how to set your paints on the palette to allow for greatest efficiency and flexibility, and how to clean everything at the end of your session with brush cleaners you’ll build yourself.

24 min
First Exercises: Line and Mark
5: First Exercises: Line and Mark

Studying John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X, you’ll learn how the placement of the brush in your hand affects the types of strokes you can make. As you test various options with your own brush placement, pressure, speed, and dilutions, you’ll experiment with a variety of lines and marks—and examine those of Van Gogh, Cézanne, and many others.

26 min
First Exercises: Value, Edges, and Texture
6: First Exercises: Value, Edges, and Texture

In this lesson, you’ll experiment with many ways to change value by changing opacity, hatching, stippling, and more. You’ll also learn a variety of ways to create an edge, making it hard or soft. You’ll experiment with many different ways to both apply and remove paint, and learn about the relationships between thick and thin layers—and what will stand the test of time.

31 min
Creating Basic Forms: Lines, Shapes, and Solids
7: Creating Basic Forms: Lines, Shapes, and Solids

As you study line, texture, contour, space, and proportion, you’ll learn how painters can start with a flat shape and create a three-dimensional solid. By examining Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and other paintings, you’ll learn how artists build upon simple geometric figures to create highly organized groupings of interlocking shapes.

21 min
Value: Making a Value Scale
8: Value: Making a Value Scale

With the goal of painting grisailles and brunailles—paintings executed entirely in shades of gray or brown, respectively—you’ll learn a step-by-step method for developing two appropriate value scales. In the process, you’ll explore paint mixing, assessing the value of those mixtures, identifying and correcting mistakes, and understanding the effects of simultaneous contrast.

15 min
Value: A Simple Still Life
9: Value: A Simple Still Life

Before creating a brunaille based on Norman Lundin’s Simple Still Life–Three Cups, you’ll learn how to transfer the cartoon files—the underdrawings in your course guidebook—to your surface, as well as options for using the grid system to scale up or down. You’ll visually take the painting apart to carefully identify the work’s shapes, and then use your value chart to guide you through the painting process.

25 min
Value: Mood, Palette, and Light
10: Value: Mood, Palette, and Light

Learn how value affects the mood of a painting—with a greater range of values bringing higher energy and a smaller range bringing a softer, calmer mood. Explore how value also can be used to create pattern, a focal hierarchy, and the illusion of space and three-dimensional volume. You’ll also examine the way light can be used to give a flat effect or to produce greater drama with a chiaroscuro.

35 min
Value: Block and Sphere in Grisaille
11: Value: Block and Sphere in Grisaille

By painting a chiaroscuro block and sphere in grisaille, you’ll apply value mixing skills—with 17 different values in this exercise—and explore the way light affects rectilinear and curvilinear forms. You’ll practice blending edges, experimenting with a variety of brushes and the use of horizontal and vertical strokes.

20 min
The Figure and a Portrait in Brunaille
12: The Figure and a Portrait in Brunaille

In this lesson, you’ll experiment with using value intuitively, leaving behind the numerical references you used previously. You’ll learn how the illusion of a complex three-dimensional form is created as you work with value and shadows. And you’ll learn to see the planar structure beneath an object, considering both value and edges as you bring life to the structure.

20 min
Working with the Earth Tone Palette
13: Working with the Earth Tone Palette

In this lesson, you’ll explore the full palette of earth tones, black, and white—a palette that has been used for millennia in every geographic area. As you experiment with a color-mixing exercise, methodically developing a chart to reveal the full range of this palette, you’ll observe the way the colors seem to change depending on their context.

33 min
Ensuring Accurate Proportions
14: Ensuring Accurate Proportions

Explore the benefits of the gridded velo, calipers, beam compasses, and even tracing paper. These tools have been used from da Vinci to the modern age for developing precise proportions when painting. Specifically, learn how to work with proportional dividers to help the accuracy of your work, whether you’re copying from another painting or painting a still life.

21 min
Composition: Shape, Ground, and Format
15: Composition: Shape, Ground, and Format

Nothing is more important to the success of a painting than composition—the organization of elements that brings cohesion to the work. Learn how to look deeply at paintings to discover compositional patterns and to improve your own work by examining format, simple and compound aggregate shapes, the box strategy, the crucial role played by “background,” and more.

40 min
Composition: Leonardo and the Armature
16: Composition: Leonardo and the Armature

Learn how to develop and work with an armature, the structure that determines the organization of elements in your painting and guides the viewer’s eyes through your work. Whether it’s the placement of a large figure or the angle of a hairline, generations of artists from diverse cultures have depended on the armature to bring visual power into their works.

39 min
Composition: Balance, Focus, and Space
17: Composition: Balance, Focus, and Space

Learn how to construct your painting to control the viewer’s path through its visual information. What do you want the observer to attend to first, second, next? You’ll explore the elements of compositional weight and balance, space, hierarchy, focal considerations, color, and more to understand the ways in which each of these factors affects your viewer’s experience.

33 min
Degas, Hammershøi, and Other Projects
18: Degas, Hammershøi, and Other Projects

In this lesson, you’ll practice the elements you’ve learned—from value to composition—with several painting assignments. In addition to a still life, you’ll work with cartoons of paintings by Degas and Hammershøi, and numerous specific suggestions for painting groupings of geometric solids, fabric, and maybe even a room in your own home.

19 min
Materials: Oil Paint Brands and Quality
19: Materials: Oil Paint Brands and Quality

Two tubes of paint with similar names—or even the exact same name—can appear and behave very differently depending on their chemical composition and the processes used in manufacturing. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to glean information from paint labels and how to utilize the Color IndexTM, often abbreviated CIGN, the international classification system for dyes and pigments.

31 min
Materials: Oil Paint Characteristics
20: Materials: Oil Paint Characteristics

Learn how opacity, tinting strength, permanence, and consistency affect your paint’s performance, and how to identify these characteristics from the paint’s label. You’ll also learn how to make sure your paint is safe, how to proceed if the label does note a health hazard, and how to care for your paints once in your workspace.

28 min
Color: Theory and Exercises
21: Color: Theory and Exercises

Learn the difference between additive and subtractive mixing, how those processes impact the colors you’ll see when you mix your paints, and why formal color theory doesn’t always reflect how paints work in the real world. You’ll begin to create your own color chart in order to experiment with the value, hue, and saturation of your particular paints.

32 min
Color: Painting with Limited Palettes
22: Color: Painting with Limited Palettes

Examine the limited palettes used by some of the great masters throughout history—monochrome, dominant hue, analogous, split complementary, and more—and explore how they strategized color usage to create a particular mood in a painting. You’ll build your own palette as you explore an exercise on color mixing, trying to match your paints to a specific color on a print.

39 min
Materials: All about Medium
23: Materials: All about Medium

All painters would love to find a medium that would cause the exact result they want with no negative effects. Instead, it’s all about compromise. Learn about the pros and cons of linseed oil, oil of rosemary, odorless mineral spirits, hydrocarbon resins, balsams, yellow beeswax, and more. You’ll experiment with making damar varnish and find recipes for numerous others.

45 min
Materials: All about Brushes
24: Materials: All about Brushes

Although almost all artists today paint with brushes, painters have experimented with an enormous variety of tools—from fingers to squeegees. In this lesson, you’ll explore the two main categories of brushes, their variability in price, and how to best care for them. You’ll also learn why hog hair is the best natural bristle and why “sable” brushes are almost never made from sable.

42 min
Materials: Flexible Supports
25: Materials: Flexible Supports

With step-by-step instructions, you’ll build your own flexible support, starting with purchasing the supports and linen, and then stretching the linen over the frame. To create the needed barrier between the textile and the paint, you’ll make a rabbit-hide glue solution and then prime with a lead white ground. You’ll also learn a great variety of options for future experiments.

44 min
Materials: Rigid Supports
26: Materials: Rigid Supports

Many artists choose to paint on rigid supports—wood, metal, or even glass—which preserve paintings for much longer periods than flexible supports. Learn why plywood and composite panels are today’s popular choice for those who paint on wood, how to prepare wooden surfaces before painting, and step-by-step directions for making your own gesso.

28 min
Materials: Carpentry for the Studio
27: Materials: Carpentry for the Studio

Many artists want their own supports, studio tables, stretchers, and strainers made to custom specs to best meet their specific needs. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to build chassis for canvases and panels, a painting table, and a brush table. Step-by-step instructions for the tables can also be found in the course guidebook.

28 min
Project: A Modigliani Portrait
28: Project: A Modigliani Portrait

In this lesson, you’ll experiment with painting Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of a Young Girl. In this work and others, Modigliani worked with the ratio of the canvas itself, as opposed to the natural proportions of the figure. You’ll learn to see and paint those unusual proportions in his orange-blue complementary system.

25 min
Project: A Degas Ballerina
29: Project: A Degas Ballerina

By painting a study of The Ballerina, by Edgar Degas, you’ll work extensively with washes in a red-green complementary-analogous palette. You’ll experiment with a great range of mark making, both positively with your brush and negatively with scratched hatchings, and work with several tools to remove paint as you emulate Degas’ texture.

13 min
Project: A Corot Landscape
30: Project: A Corot Landscape

Painting a study based on Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Bridge on the Saôn at Mâcon—with its palpable illusion of light and air—gives you the opportunity to work with a greater depth of space than in any previous painting in this course and with brush strokes you haven’t used before. You’ll be challenged also by using his double complementary palette.

18 min
Project: Derain’s Portrait of Matisse
31: Project: Derain’s Portrait of Matisse

In this lesson, you’ll paint a study based on André Derain’s iconic 1905 portrait of his friend Henri Matisse, using highly saturated color that modulates from light to dark and warm to cool as you move around the head. In copying Derain’s style, you’ll use hue, value, and brush marks to make sure the head is the focus of the piece.

15 min
Project: A Porter Self-Portrait
32: Project: A Porter Self-Portrait

In this lecture, you’ll paint a study based on a Fairfield Porter self-portrait. Porter focused on observational figure painting with works that relied on strong abstract shape relationships. In this painting, you’ll work with opacity and density as you create all the large and small, positive and negative shapes that come together as a type of grid of interlocking puzzle pieces.

17 min
Painting’s Evolution: Indirect Painting
33: Painting’s Evolution: Indirect Painting

Explore the significant differences between indirect and direct painting. You’ll learn which tools and techniques to use depending on which type of work you want to produce—the historical indirect method of using thin translucent paint on top a smooth white panel, or the more modern method of using opaque paint on the rougher, less reflective surface of canvas.

39 min
Nighthawks, The Scream, and Other Projects
34: Nighthawks, The Scream, and Other Projects

In this lesson, you’ll study Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Munch’s The Scream. While viewers often think the Munch was painted in a moment of emotional outburst, both paintings were highly premeditated and meticulously created with numerous advanced studies. By examining the many steps these painters went through in preparation, you will improve your own artistic process as well.

39 min
David Brody

If you're like most of my students at the University of Washington, it's likely that when you think about "learning to draw" you’re thinking about being able to do this: get the proportions right; get the things to sit on the table; maybe even draw a group of figures...from your imagination.


Yale University


University of Washington in Seattle

About David Brody

Professor David Brody has been a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Washington in Seattle since 1996. He did undergraduate work at Columbia University and Bennington College and received his graduate degree in painting from Yale University in 1983. Professor Brody has lectured or been a visiting critic at Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Chicago, Harvard University, Capital Normal University in Beijing, and the China Art Academy in Hangzhou. Professor Brody's paintings and drawings have been shown in close to 100 exhibitions in the United States and Europe. These include solo shows at Gallery NAGA in Boston, the Esther Claypool Gallery in Seattle, Gescheidle in Chicago, and Galeria Gilde in Portugal. His work has also been shown at the ARCO Art Fair in Madrid, the RipArte Art Fair in Rome, the Trevi Flash Art Museum, the FAC Art Fair in Lisbon, and Art Chicago in the United States. Professor Brody's work has been published and written about in two monographs and in many articles and reviews. Art in America concluded, "A highly intelligent artist ... Brody is absolutely serious about technique. An emphasis on fine drawing, delicate surfaces, and careful considerations of color and light informs all his pictures." Professor Brody has received numerous awards. He's been both a Fulbright Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow, received the Basil H. Alkazzi Award for Excellence in Painting, and was awarded Royalty Research Fund grants and Milliman Endowment for Faculty Excellence awards at the University of Washington.

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