Favorite Moments from Realism Live 2022

We came back for our third annual Realism Live online art conference, hosted by Eric Rhoads and Peter Trippi, and featuring many of today’s greatest artists in the field of contemporary realism.

In case you’re not familiar with this incredible event, 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. Here are some of the highlights from this year. (Access the replays here for a limited time!)

Realism Live Beginner Day Highlights

Wow, what a day. Getting up at 4.30am for the 5am start was fun, lol. (Having to work afterward not so much) 😀 But what an awesome lineup! Such variety! Excellence! Inspiration! And tutoring that’s easy to follow! To see the other attendees’ inspired works is also so encouraging: again, such awesome variety and beauty. For this Beginner, the day was exciting… and I’m so thrilled to anticipate the next few days. Thank you, all, (tutors and attendees!) for sharing your knowledge and skills. – Ali McHattie

In a 45-minute portrait drawing demo, Oliver Sin explained how to use vine charcoal to create light and shadows. He said right away that having rendering skills in drawing will also give you a solid foundation for creating tone and value.

From Oliver Sin's portrait drawing demo
From Oliver Sin’s portrait drawing demo

The most common mistake that Carol Peebles sees beginners make when it comes to drawing hands is that the fingers end up looking like sausages. In “How to Draw Hands,” Carol breaks down the process so that you can draw a realistic hand. (Tip: Always consider the wrist as well.)

From "How to Draw Hands" with Carol Peebles
From “How to Draw Hands” with Carol Peebles

In the session “Three Colors Plus White,” Sarah Sedwick explained how she paints with a limited palette, (“And I mean a really limited palette,” she said), and uses a timer in the studio to liven up the painting process.

From Sarah Sedwick's limited palette still life session
From Sarah Sedwick’s limited palette still life session

Todd Casey welcomed us into his studio, where he showed us how to work on a still life object in a painting, from both an optical and conceptual approach.

From Todd Casey's still life painting demonstration
From Todd Casey’s still life painting demonstration

Sandra Angelo has developed a simplified four-step system for going from “absolute amateur to amazing portraitist” in a very short amount of time. “Even if you’re good, I can help make you great,” she said in her demo on how to draw realistic hair and the basics of portraits.

From Sandra Angelo's drawing basics workshop
From Sandra Angelo’s drawing basics workshop

In “Let There Be Light,” studio and plein air painter Debra Huse explained simple elements to help you find the light, light source, and shadow to create form and drama in your painting, in any medium.

From Debra Huse's "Let There Be Light" demo
From Debra Huse’s “Let There Be Light” landscape painting demo

In addition to all of the incredible demonstrations above, we also enjoyed special moments with our wonderful sponsors, Pierre Guidetti of Savoir Faire, and Julie Swanson Davis representing Blick Art Materials.

Oh wow, what a fantastic lineup of artists on Beginner’s day at the #RealismLive event. It was seamless from start to finish and I was so happy to see the video that I had recorded for promotional purposes for the international participants. I rose to all the challenges and it was uplifting and fun…Thank you, Eric Rhoads – Nandhini Narasimhan

“Holdin On” after a wonderful full day of great instructors and information on the Beginner’s Realism Live! Can’t wait until tomorrow. – Sharon Barley

Coming soon – Watercolor Live, January 2023!

Day 1 Highlights from Realism Live

We started Day 1 of Realism Live with an invigorating format we’ve never done before (read below to see how we broke tradition). Before going into the session details, we’d like to take a moment to thank the sponsors we heard from today, including Royal Talens featuring Michelle Dunaway, Savoir-Faire featuring Kate Zambrano, and Blick featuring Zhenya Gershman.

Prior to this week, Peter Trippi modeled for Michelle Dunaway’s portrait painting demo in his NYC home. For Realism Live, we were able to watch the footage of the session while Peter and Michelle discussed her process, including how crucial the initial setup is when it comes to light, shadows, and more. Michelle said, for example, that she prefers to start from the focal point and work her way out. After the demo, she took questions from everyone watching.

Michelle Dunaway, with her recent portrait of Peter Trippi
Michelle Dunaway, with her recent portrait of Peter Trippi

Michelle’s demo was followed by another live session – this time with Karen Offutt, who came into our Austin studios to paint a portrait from a photo reference. Throughout her workshop, she guided us through each decision she was making, including what to do – and to avoid doing.

From Karen Offutt's portrait demo
From Karen Offutt’s Portrait Demo

Lisa Egeli shared her approach to working from a photograph to create a larger sketch that she then used for a landscape painting. Why all the prep? To work out potential issues (composition, for example) in advance.

From Lisa Egeli's Landscape Demo
From Lisa Egeli’s Landscape Demo

We also had a special guest appearance from Nancy Atherton West, who started the “Dreamliners” – a grassroots Facebook group of Streamline fans, which has 3500 members from 85 countries.

"Dreamliner" Nancy Atherton West
“Dreamliner” Nancy Atherton West

Alex Kelly demonstrated how he paints alla prima (from life observation). He shared his process for the initial block-in and then developed the drawing, value, hue, chroma, and edges to bring a painting to completion. Bonus: Alex also showed us the simple tool but brilliant he uses to determine the size of a new composition.

From Alex Kelly's Floral Demo
From Alex Kelly’s Floral Demo
Realism Live
@debbsart Focused on every word Michelle Dunaway is explaining on her portrait painting on 3rd Annual Realism Live with @dunawayfineart

And of course, we closed the evening with our nightly paint-along cocktail hour, complete with camaraderie, networking, and painting. Stay tuned – there’s more to come!

Day 2 Highlights from Realism Live

Today we enjoyed another stellar lineup of artists who presented a new variety of techniques and insights, including a very special Lifetime Achievement Award (keep reading to see who it went to!).

Coming to us from his studio, Ned Mueller said that he creates portraits “mainly to sharpen [his] skills and to have fun while making a work of art.” In regards to his demo, he added, “It works for me, and I’m hoping … it does the same for you.”

From Ned Mueller's Portrait Demo
From Ned Mueller’s Portrait Demo

Everyone loves “color” but John Pototschnik wants you to know that color is supported by value first and foremost. “The value structure,” he said, “is absolutely critical in order to have a good foundation for a painting.”

From John Pototschnik's Landscape Demo
From John Pototschnik’s Landscape Demo

“This is a conversation with some very special people who matter a great deal in the world of contemporary realism and I’m thrilled to have them with us,” said Peter Trippi in his introduction to the roundtable with Leona Shanks, Analisa Shanks, and Alexander Shanks.

They shared an informal discussion about the incredible legacy left by the great artist Nelson Shanks, who was the husband of Leona and the father of Analisa and Alexander.

Shanks family - Realism Live

“I rely on my imagination and memory a great deal,” said painter and draftsman Michael Mentler. In his portrait demonstration, he shared the technique that he has developed over years of making art.

From Michael Mentler's Portrait Drawing Demo
From Michael Mentler’s Portrait Drawing Demo

Wildlife artist Dustin Van Wechel gave us a quick “down and dirty” demonstration on how to paint fur, including techniques that you can apply to other subjects since it really comes down to understanding edges.

From Dustin Van Wechel's Animal Fur Demo
From Dustin Van Wechel’s Animal Fur Demo

In a special moment of the day, Peter Trippi presented renowned artist Juliette Aristides with the Fine Art Connoisseur Lifetime Achievement Award. Juliette then led a figure painting demonstration live on camera (she advises that it’s a good idea to start with some type of drawing first, to take the time to study, and to make excellence your goal.)

Juliette also took the time to answer each of the questions that came up during the demo itself, such as how her paints stayed on her vertical palette (Answer: it’s oil paint, so it sticks easily).

Juliette Aristides receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award
Juliette Aristides receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award
From Juliette's figure painting demo
From Juliette’s figure painting demo

Throughout the day, many artists continued to draw and paint along with the instructors, including @mary.claire.coster, who shared the following:

Realism Live
Drew today with Michael Mentler on realism live my rendering using a sanguine pencil on watercolor paper and then white oil paint. #realismlive #ericrhoads #sketching #michaelmentler #sennelier #oilpainting

Day 3 Highlights from Realism Live

Although the 3rd Annual Realism Live has come to a close, don’t worry – you don’t have to wait a whole year for another exceptional online art conference. Join us in January for Watercolor Live – we’ll see you there! In the meantime, here’s a recap from Day 3 of Realism Live. Enjoy!

“This morning I painted along with Cornelia Hernes’s still life. It has been the most gratifying thing I have done in a while. Every one of the instructors has offered so much information and encouragement. Thank you, Eric Rhoads and all who have put this incredible Realism Live together for all of the great artists out there who crave to become better painters.” ~ Attendee during Day 3 of Realism Live

Coming to us from Norway, Cornelia Hernes demonstrated an alla prima oil still life painting in three stages. Her setup included a copper pot, porcelain jar, glass bottle, and teacup. While they “overlapped” each other, she made sure there were areas in the composition where the eyes could pause.

From Cornelia Hernes's Still LIfe Demo
From Cornelia Hernes’s Still Life Demo

Director and Founder of the Florence Academy of Art (FAA) Daniel Graves explained the process of traditional gesso preparation of panels, through to the final prepared canvas. In this Materials session, he welcomed FAA program director Toby Neve in the studio, to help field questions as Daniel led the demonstration.

From the session "Daniel Graves Presents His Materials"
From the session “Daniel Graves Presents His Materials”

In a rare presentation, master landscape painter Clyde Aspevig (aka “land-snorkeling* possibillionist”) emphasized how we can see the interconnections and importance of art, and much more. He shared stories from his life, including that, to him, landscape painting is a celebration of life, saying, “I never looked back on the idea that I could not be an artist.”

After his talk about key moments and favorite books, Clyde went on to give a painting demonstration for us. He explained that while many of us have fears when we face a blank canvas, we should think “this canvas should be afraid of me.”

*Clyde credits his wife for this term, which she came up with while they were exploring the flora and fauna of Sedona, Arizona

From Clyde Aspevig's presentation
From Clyde Aspevig’s presentation

In the following session, Peter Trippi led an informal dialogue with two leaders in the field of realism: Sharon Sprung and Mario Robinson. Their fascinating discussion covered “where we are” as a realism community today.

Mario Robinson and Sharon Sprung
Mario Robinson and Sharon Sprung

Terry Strickland joined us to explain how to mix and use her versatile flesh-tone palette in two mini demonstrations. Terry’s Tip: Because mixing color can be a messy process, “Most of the time I mix my colors on a different palette and then transfer them onto a clean palette I’ll be using just because mixing paint is a messy proposition.”

From Terry Strickland's Flesh Palette Demo
From Terry Strickland’s Flesh Palette Demo

In a unique presentation on portrait painting, we saw Rose Frantzen do a full demonstration that began as usual but then went into high speed with an audience Q&A taking place as the audio. This way, we could see the painting take shape while getting additional insights from Rose. One of the questions, for example, was, “What sort of role do you think your personality could have played early in your career in landing clients or gallery shows?”

From Rose Frantzen's Portrait Demo
From Rose Frantzen’s Portrait Demo

In addition to all of these incredible lessons, we had special giveaways and prizes, unforgettable moments of sharing personal experiences, and promises to “meet again” next year at the 4th Annual Realism Live. Remember, if you can’t wait until then, join us in January for Watercolor Live! See you soon!


  1. Hello from Canada !!

    This was an amazing three days !! I am still in awe of every demo presented by your STELLAR artists! WOWZERS! (Watched repeats again today while l worked in my studio)…loved chatting in the breakout rooms too…as one person mentioned she wasn’t feeling well but she could still curl up with a blanket and not miss a thing !! Many new followers now and kinship ! Wow! Loved every breakout room !

    I would like to take the time now and thank you for such a great experience! Your team are totally AMAZING ! THANK YOU Eric for making a dream come to reality …artists are all like one huge family, willing to share and keep giving of themselves for each of us to learn…l will never stop learning , Never !! ART gives me so much JOY, and I’m so grateful I GET to draw and paint every single day.I am so excited to go back over all my notes (47 pages !!) To get back at my work / commissions.

    Warmest Regards, (XO)
    @Debbdart. http://www.dfbart.com [email protected]
    Debb Ferris Bates
    New Brunswick,

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