Essential Techniques for Realistic Paintings

We are back for our fourth annual Realism Live online art conference, hosted by Publisher Eric Rhoads and Fine Art Connoisseur Editor-in-Chief Peter Trippi. This unparalleled event features many of today’s greatest artists in the field of contemporary realism.

In case you’re not familiar with Realism Live, here’s what you should know upfront: We discover techniques, insider secrets, and in-depth demonstrations with the option to paint along or join in the streaming chat with fellow artists and many of the masters themselves. There’s even an incredible faculty auction, where you can buy works from your favorite teachers and artists.

Here are some of the highlights from Essential Techniques Day, which is especially for any artist new to realism or who just wants a refresher. (Access the replays here for a limited time!) We also want to thank today’s Realism Live sponsors: Blick Art Materials, and Sennelier, Fabriano & Raphael.

Our Realism Live hosts, Eric Rhoads and Peter Trippi
Our Realism Live hosts, Eric Rhoads and Peter Trippi

Highlights from Realism Live, Essential Techniques Day

“There are a lot of tools, but there are no rules,” explained Glenn Vilppu in his encouraging workshop on how to draw, titled “Beginning of a Journey.” Glenn used an iPad to demonstrate how you can go from a stick figure to a gesture drawing, from a “snowman” to a recognizable human form. He says, “There are absolutely no restrictions on what you can think or imagine.”

Glenn Vilppu at Realism Live, Essential Techniques Day
Glenn Vilppu at Realism Live, Essential Techniques Day

“Drawing is a very, very important part of our work as a realism artist and a representational artist,” Victoria Herrera said. She addressed this as well as the concepts of value, hue, and other important basic concepts that she still considers every time she paints.

Realism Live - Victoria Herrera began her session with a helpful diagram of light and shadows.
Joining us from her art studio, Victoria Herrera began her session with a helpful diagram of light and shadows.

You want to place a warm color next to a cool color as often as you can, explained Phillip Koch in his session on color mixing. He began by introducing the color wheel and beginning concepts, which can help set you up for success when you’re ready to put your brush to the canvas.

Phillip Koch during his Color Theory session at Realism Live
Phillip Koch during his Color Theory session

With a focus on simplification, Pat Fiorello taught us how to paint realistically without getting caught up in all the details. She used a two-stage approach to paint a still life of yellow roses.

From Pat Fiorello's still life techniques lesson
From Pat Fiorello’s still life techniques lesson

“The block-in is arguably the most important stage in a drawing,” says Stephen Bauman, who explained how to achieve a high level of accuracy by focusing on this part of your work.

From Stephen Bauman's block-in drawing demo for beginners
From Stephen Bauman’s block-in drawing demo

Plein air painter Paul Kratter joined us from his studio in northern California to give a landscape painting lesson, stressing the importance of the plein air sketch.

Paul Kratter's landscape painting demo
Paul Kratter’s landscape painting demo
Eric Rhoads - Realism Live
You never know what will happen at our live events!

In addition to all of these incredible lessons, we had unforgettable moments of sharing personal experiences, a lively cocktail hour and paint-along at the end of the night, and more special moments. Join us now (or catch replays) at!


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