Intro to Realism

Class Includes Lifetime Access, Instructor Feedback, Online Community, Nearly 3 Hours of Video & More!

6 Lessons – $85

In this class you will learn techniques to help you strengthen your drawing and painting skills. Karine Swenson focuses on helping you find ways to develop your unique style while getting closer to visual truth.

TEACHER: Karine Swenson

Class Description

In this class you will learn techniques to help you strengthen your drawing and painting skills.

The emphasis will be placed on finding ways to develop your own unique style while getting closer to visual truth. Just as each person has unique handwriting, your own way of drawing and painting will become your strength.

Each of you will pick your own 3D object — a toy, a tool, or something that interests you — and render it multiple times, building from quick sketches all the way to a color painting. We will work with color and value and pay close attention to light and shadow to create dimensionality.

I look forward to working with you!

Karine Swenson

Note: I will be working with oil paint, but you can work with acrylics or watercolor if you wish.

Class Itinerary

Lesson 1
We will spend some time choosing our subject matter that you will draw and paint throughout this class. Then you will light it, photograph it, and do a couple of quick drawings of it! You will also draw your hand in this lesson, an ever-available subject and a great way to sneak a little drawing practice in wherever you find yourself.

Lesson 2
This lesson will be devoted to drawing — both quick study, and slower, more careful study. The drawings are part of the process of learning to see more and to develop better hand/eye coordination. You will do several drawings of your hand and your chosen subject.

Lesson 3
In this lesson we will do more quick studies and then work on and finish a value study in charcoal of our subject to prepare us for our painting.

Lesson 4
Paint!!! Today we will work with a very limited palette, and use our value study from Lesson 3 to help us navigate our first painting of our subjects.

Lesson 5
We will begin the final painting of our subjects. You will be able to expand your color palette (a little!).

Lesson 6
The focus of our final lesson will be to explore the finishing touches, how to know when you are finished, and what you can do to make a painting you like.

  1. A Sharpie marker (or similar) Black, fine point or a ballpoint pen.
  2. Compressed charcoal – get the softest, darkest one you can find.
  3. Either drawing pencils or charcoal pencils ranging from 2B to 5B and one white charcoal pencil, white conte crayon or white charcoal. You can also use conte crayons. You can often buy a set that includes a range of darkness with an eraser or blending stump. These sets are often more economical than buying separate pencils. If you find a set of charcoal pencils with a blending stump, eraser and sharpener, that’s great and it will take care of the next couple of items!
  4. A kneadable eraser
  5. A blending stump or tortillon
  6. Pencil sharpener
  7. One drawing pad, 11″x14″ inches, spiral bound is best.
  8. Toned charcoal paper. Buy one or two sheets at least. I use Global Arts Kona Classic or Strathmore 500 series charcoal paper
  9. Paint: I will be using oil paint. You can work with whatever paint you are most interested in – acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache or even soft pastels. Colors: titanium white, mars black, ultramarine blue, red, yellow, green, purple & orange. If you are going to work in acrylic, buy Open Acrylic paints to extend drying time (or get a slow-dry medium).
  10. Palette – a place to mix colors. A paper palette works fine for oil or acrylic. I use a glass palette for ease of cleaning.
  11. Water or solvent for thinning paint. I use Turpenoid Odorless mineral spirits. If you are using oil, you can use Gamsol or walnut oil to thin the paint.
  12. Brushes – get a variety of sizes ranging from #2 to #10. I use mainly flats or rounds, but you can use your favorite shapes if you have them.
  13. Palette knife to mix paint colors.
  14. At least three surfaces to paint on. (If you are using acrylic or oil that would mean either stretched canvas, canvas board, birch panel, or similar.) For watercolor or gouache, I recommend springing for high quality watercolor paper. You can buy single sheets, 100% cotton rag, at least 140 lb. paper. I prefer cold press. If you wish, you can buy a watercolor block. Get a decent size – at least 9″x12″ inches. If you are going to work in pastel, buy a good quality paper like Wallis sanded pastel paper, Sennelier La Carte pastel paper or something similar. Good quality materials will make things easier!
  15. A light source you can control. (For example: a desk lamp that you can direct at your subject)
  16. Start thinking about what you would like to draw or paint. I highly recommend working from a real, three-dimensional object rather than a photograph. We will be emphasizing how to make a three-dimensional object look 3 D on a flat surface and it is easier if your subject is three dimensional. Besides, it’s hard to lay a grid on a 3D object! Choose something you really like. You will be looking at it a lot, so make it something you already find interesting or beautiful.
  17. Optional items: nitrile gloves or barrier crème to protect your hands while working in charcoal or pastel, an apron, rags, paper towels, mixed media book, drop cloth, one larger painting surface if you would like to work large, etc.

Karine_PortraitKarine Swenson

Karine Swenson grew up just outside of a town called Rapid City, South Dakota in the Black Hills. The closest neighbor was a mile away. Reared in this environment, Swenson’s connection with the natural world was strong. After receiving her BA in painting from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, she moved to Colorado. She has spent most of her life in small towns that sit right next to the last remaining bits of wilderness. From the mountains of Colorado, the ocean surrounding Maui, Hawaii, the desert near Joshua Tree, California, and now the high desert outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Karine feels the most at home out in nature. In the studio, her second home, she can explore her relationship with the natural world. Her oil paintings are reflections of this relationship. Swenson has been a full-time artist for the past ten years.To watch a short video introducing Karine, click HERE. See more wonderful art at Karine’s website:

Nuts & Bolts

  • This class is now available as a self-study class.
  • Immediately upon class signup, you will receive access to the class videos and corresponding materials.
  • A private Facebook group will be available for you to (optionally) share your artwork and enjoy and learn from the artwork of others. You may also email your teacher directly with questions or feedback.
  • You will have indefinite access to this class.
“Thanks so much for this great class. You are a wonderful, gentle, nudging teacher. Thanks for giving us the courage to go further and specific instructions for how to do that. Loved it.” — Denneen P.