Learn to Paint Inside an Artists Studio - Bright Light Fine Art
Learn to Paint Inside an Artists Studio - Drawing and Painting Classes

Learn to Paint Inside an Artists Studio

Watch Sherrie and Jackie discuss what it is like to paint in their studio. Learn to paint from masters artists as if you are inside their studio can be a wonderful way to learn.

What If You Had Been a Fly on the Wall in Rembrandt’s Studio?

The “A Day in the Studio” series allows you to be the fly on the wall. You can peer in on professional artists while they paint alone in their studios, making bold and dramatic artistic decisions. David, Sherrie and Jackie take chances in ways they might not if these were regular demonstrations.

This revolutionary series of instructional videos will show you the artistic process in a way that few artists would dare reveal. These videos address a long-awaited request by most students. They get to see how David, Sherrie and Jacqueline work when they are grappling with problems in their own paintings and drawings. These are not demonstrations. This is footage of artists working at their own pace as if they were working alone.

Capturing this kind of footage seems impossible, But A Day in the Studio seems to be the closest to come to delivering this experience. Especially, given the reality of a camera presence.

These videos take you into their hallowed spaces and out on location. Watch, as master artists paint and draw still life, portrait and figure studies as close as possible to the way they would work normally. You’ll see the struggles and triumphs up close. Guided by insightful voice-overs, these films illuminate the thinking behind a work in progress. And when a painting was been completed later, an image of it will be included at the end.

Come and learn to paint through an intimate view of creation in the making…Welcome to an Artist’s Private World!

These revolutionary new series of instructional videos will address a long-awaited request by most students. Watch how David Leffel, Sherrie McGraw and Jacqueline Kamin work when they are grappling with problems in their own paintings and drawings.  View full series.

Learn to Paint by Jacqueline Kamin in Her Studio


This film captures real footage of Jacqueline Kamin painting an oil portrait of John Knight. A decorated veteran who fought in eight war zones in World War II. In 2017 Jacqueline and her daughter Stacy embarked on a special project to honor these men at the CalVet Veterans Home in Los Angeles. By capturing their faces in oil, charcoal and watercolor and also recording their war stories on film. Jacqueline and Stacy’s artistic efforts culminated in a comprehensive show called “Drawn to Serve”. It had its premier opening on November 11, 2017 celebrating Veteran’s Day. The moving stories these men told helped Jacqueline and Stacy capture the spirit of this dying breed of men who put their lives on the line to protect our country.

“Painting John’s portrait was an amazing opportunity for me, as well as a very difficult project to attempt,” Jacqueline stated. “The lighting was probably the most problematic factor, because there were multiple light sources. I placed him with the strongest light available, a north-facing window illuminating the left side of his face. This gave me a distinct yet pale shadow plane on the right side of his face. This required transposing the shadow into a much richer, darker shade.”

After a brief introduction, the voices and conversations you hear capture the real life situation of this video, which shows how to deal with seemingly insurmountable lighting conditions on location when necessary. Jacqueline also shows how it is possible to create a beautiful and compelling portrait and learn to paint despite the odds.


In part two, Jacqueline shows how you can turn less-than-optimal conditions into a plus. In the midst of a hectic environment, it is important to develop equilibrium and the determination to stay focused on what you want to capture in the portrait. You witness the repartee between Jacqueline and her subject and how she keeps John in the spirit of the pose.

The mixing palette is onscreen as she works, giving you a sense of how not to over-mix and the importance of putting the paint on thickly and freshly. Having established the light and shadow on her subject, she creates a corner on the face by building up the light. This gives a feeling of three-dimension and retains the graphic impact of the portrait. The viewer hears talking in the background as these lively vets relay stories with animated anecdotes.

The problem of painting glasses on a face can often stump a painter. Jacqueline achieves this feat by getting the structure of the eyes first and then painting the glasses on top, making sure to keep the rims in proper perspective. Finally, Jacqueline simplifies the background to give the portrait more visual impact. The most important aspect of painting in less-than-ideal circumstances is to take control of the situation and create the portrait that gives the quality that you desire in the painting.

Within our series “Day in the Studio,” this is the first in a series of veteran’s portraits of our nation’s heroes that Jacqueline did on the spot, in the real world, outside of her studio. There are plans for “Drawn to Serve” to travel with testimonials where viewers will be able to see and hear from these great and brave men.

Learn to Paint by Sherrie McGraw in Her Studio


In Sherrie’s first video of this series, she tackles a large still life with a Venus de Milo statue. She does this while narrating her progress for the viewer. The stark white figurine against a warm rusted-tin background makes this a particularly beautiful painting idea. Because of its complexity and size, is one she normally would not attempt on camera. But the time had come to film and the setup was too inspiring not to paint it. In this film, you’ll experience an intimate peek into the creative process.

This is not a demonstration; our film allows you to witness the artistic process up close. After determining that the Venus statue is more dramatic than the much subtler Tang horse and rider, Sherrie begins her large setup by composing a mass for the statue. This is so that she can judge its relationship to the background. She shows the viewer that persistence is key in getting what you want. Relentless pursuit of an artistic idea is what separates artists from illustrators. You’ll see how she stops at nothing to capture her concept fully on the canvas.

She describes her idea in the painting and works very abstractly for a long time to make it a visual reality. You’ll see her use of a painting knife to achieve textures only possible on a stretched canvas.


In this continuation of Sherrie’s large still life, the painting idea is evident despite the lack of detail. This is always the goal in a start—to capture a feeling of the finish as quickly as possible. In this way, Sherrie shows how every brushstroke, every scrape and squiggle needs to further the idea; if it doesn’t, it needs to go. To her, becoming precious about a painting is its death knell.

Sherrie moves around the painting, resisting getting stuck in one area. She continually judges whether each brushstroke fulfills the concept. She uses a painting knife to go back and forth, adjusting the positioning of the Chinese lanterns as well as their intensely chromatic color slide. Sherrie steps back to see the painting from a distance quite often, as well as taking time to study the painting along the way.

Midway through the painting, she experiences a struggle with inner voices that are telling her that something isn’t right in the painting. She wipes off the left-hand side when the paint quality and design simply aren’t working for her. She continues to develop the idea. Sherrie shares anecdotes and practical advice from her days working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that is not only informative but also inspirational to those learning to paint.

After working on the painting upside down, in a dramatic show of courage, she ends this section by wiping the painting off entirely while explaining her reasons.


Sherrie makes the statue smaller and places it lower on the canvas to give the composition the scope she initially envisioned. She explains that space makes the objects seem larger and more real because they appear to be in an environment.

The ability to start abstractly is due to her strong drawing skills. Sherrie emphasizes the importance of drawing every day to hone your observation. The painting comes together quickly now that the composition is in accordance with the idea.

Sherrie talks about what the finish entails and discusses her struggles with getting to the finish in her own development. She describes how an artist uses information to guide the eye through the process of how to learn to paint, controlling the pace with places of focus. She uses an age-old device of ‘carving out’ shapes to correct the drawing.

Getting a sense of life is, to Sherrie, one of the most amazing things an artist can do. She quickly demonstrates this as her painting begins to seem real, despite its obvious crudeness. She explains how the angles of the cast shadows set the perspective of the painting.

The running explanations of what she is doing are the advantages with adding voice overs later instead teaching while painting—the viewer gets insights that would not have been possible in the throes of the creative struggle. With a calm, detached perspective, Sherrie ends the video knowing that with more time, she will capture her beautiful idea fully to completion.

Learn to Paint by David Leffel in His Studio


With an insightful voice over, David guides the viewer through this considerate portrait. Ambient conversations are also included, which is entertaining as well. As this oil portrait painting is of one of David’s favorite models, he starts slowly to allow the full quality of the model to make its impact. This is when he sees the artistic possibilities. It is this time of contemplation where the concept for the painting is discovered. As David says, a good painting is partially the artist and partially the model.

The reason David cautions against working too quickly is because rushing can only produce something known, something you’ve already done. If you want to create something new—and not simply an illustration—the artist must pay complete attention to the subject.

David shows how everything in the painting is important! Reality is not set in stone—it bends to the will of the artist. David starts with shadow, being conscious of the design of the painting, not concerning himself with the likeness of the model.

By teaching after-the-fact, David is able to give his full attention in the moment of painting. He stresses the sensitivity to air in a painting, the murk that weaves its way in and around the subject, giving a feeling of reality. Working this way allows you to improve with every painting. If you listen to the painting itself, it tells you what it needs.


In Part 2, you can learn to paint as David talks about the essential painting problem from its inception. He tries to give the illusion of form on a flat surface. David also talks about the inventions that changed painting forever. And, turned it from a problem solving discipline into an activity of self-expression.

David thinks of painting human form topographically, judging what is higher or lower as it comes out of the canvas, rather than trying to match color or value. This is a significant departure from the common way of seeing portrait painting, which is usually obsessed with resemblance.

He shows how conserving color is the way to make skin color look convincing. He utilizes air color to get the non-color in the skin. This is what gives the illusion of a breathing human being. This is quite different from painting skin uniformly, like that of a manikin, a problem that plagues portraiture.

With David’s keen observation, you will delight in how thick paint and descriptive brushstrokes go from abstract pieces of paint to suddenly becoming the model with a startlingly real likeness. This is the magic of painting and the power of capturing structure rather than resemblance.

Fear, according to David, is the biggest hurdle to overcome in learning to paint. You will benefit from the fearless wealth of insights gained by a lifetime of studying what painting is.

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