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My class with Mark

Hi all,

I have taken an online class with Mark (12 days, 20 mins sessions of one to one tuition) and I wanted to let you know what happened, documenting the progress. I selected the still life class, which is the class where you can best learn the "draw mix paint" method.

First of all: I have taken this class only after having viewed (more than once, and taking a bunch of notes) all Mark's videos. All of them. I would not recommend taking the class unless you do this first. 
The class time is limited, you need to ensure you reserve the time with Mark for questions you have, and for him to comment and teach you based on your progress.

Although not a requirement suggested anywhere, I wanted to set myself up for success so just before the class I bought the proportional divider, a reference photo from his website (laminated) and the Geneva Paints. I also bought the colour checker, although for a painting from a photograph that is not needed as you'll colour-check only by painting a little dot on the photograph (then wipe it off easily when fresh, given it's a laminated paper).

The item I would not do without in this class is the proportional divider - by far. Additionally, the Geneva paints are the best paints I have ever worked with, and will only use these going forward, forever! The richness in pigment is parallel to none, the flow is amazing and they do stay fresh on the palette and on the canvas for a long time (2 weeks so far, and counting).
For the purpose of this class I highly recommend them, however you would also be able to work easily if you use Mark's recipe for the slow dry medium and mix your colours properly ahead of the class. That recipe is here: and somewhere he uploaded a youtube video to show how to mix the colours.

The class will develop according to the pace you set. I took my time as I wanted to learn all the steps properly: I was not interested in finishing this painting, I was interested in learning how to get there.
Mark was very happy with the approach.

Here is the reference photograph:

For the first three days I drew using for the first time in my life the proportional divider. It was a life changing experience, I have never produced a drawing so well made and proportionate which made so much sense. Mark found this really good.

For the following two days I mixed the colours. As the reference photo I chose was very complex and I wanted to go slow I mixed the colours to cover only one third of the canvas (the first to the left). The colour groups I mixed belonged to the roses, the glass and the small bottle, the background, and the table.
This was not easy either. I made misteaks in laying down the colours (swapping a higher value place with a lower value place) on the palette - which is not something I will repeat. Also, in two cases I missed some steps (one time the lower values, one time the higher values). 

Finally I started painting. You can see here where I stopped (end of class). There are mistakes here, the most glaringly obvious one is the bottom of the small bottle that needs a good bit of re-work on values. However I am very pleased and Mark found it quite good.
To give you an idea of my level before I was taught by Mark, here are some of my previous paintings:

Once I embark on a journey I want to see it through. So, as planned, at the end of this class I have purchased the year long mentoring program, during which I want to complete this painting and hopefully paint another one (or two). I work full time so I only have weekends (and admittedly not all of them) available to paint. So a monthly cadence and no time pressure suits me down to the ground.
Mark advises to paint at least 5-10 paintings following the method to the letter before "straying" from it. Anybody will stray in the future (after all it is a learning method) but of course, one has to master it before doing so.

In my view It's like learning a different language: use the grammar and the dictionary to the letter at the beginning, and yes, the initial exercises are tedious, then once you are fluent in that language, feel free to introduce slang or poetic licenses when speaking it or writing it. There is no difference here.

There are some that say that Mark's method is too tedious and that he does not bring you to create proper art. They are sorely mistaken. This method "teaches" - teaching being the keyword here! The art you will create will come later, after you know what you are doing. At least this is my opinion.

This is it. I hope you will find it useful.




  • Really well done @Raffi, thats great and your excitement in doing the course shines through.

    The glass, roses and bottle look superb I think that eclipses whatever minor errors you had with mixing.

    Looking forward to seeing your progress.

    Thanks for posting.

  • Thanks for posting.   It’s exciting to hear of your experience training with Mark.  The painting that you did under his guidance looks excellent.  I look forward to seeing your progress!

  • Thanks for posting that, @Raffi. You've done a fantastic job on this so far. And I really like your attitude re learning the basics first and then moving onto creating art. I'm so pleased it is working well for you.  :)
  • Hello @Raffi.  So glad to see your post.  Your painting so far is incredibly good!  Enjoyed hearing about your experience with your training. Thank you for sharing your progress.  Really like your approach to concentrating on the foundations of his method and taking your time finishing the painting.  I also work full time and admire how you've taken on this learning experience.  Your time has been so well spent.  Can't wait to see how your painting progresses.  
  • You are going to be ecstatic about your painting when you are finished.  The training will take you up so many levels you will be amazed.I'm so excited for you.  I took his course in Austin about 7 or so years ago and the results were very gratifying.  Looking forward to seeing how it develops.
  • Thank you @GTO , @tassieguy , @A_Time_To_Paint , @oilpainter1950 ! you all got perfectly well what I intend to do. I just hope I won't screw it up on my own ;-)
  • Hilary 
    Hi @Raffi 
    Thanks so much for taking the trouble to give such an interesting review of your online course with Mark. 
    It sounds as though you gained a huge amount from the whole experience. Your still life set up is absolutely beautiful , covering so many different elements. What you’ve done so far looks perfect. You’re so right to take your time and not rush. 
    Really looking forward to seeing your progress with the painting as you work your way through it. 
    Maybe when this crazy time is over we can have a coffee in Liffey Valley and compare notes. 
    Thanks again for your very detailed and interesting post. I was very anxious to know how you had found the whole experience. Delighted you found it so worthwhile. 
  • I don't think many artists painting as well as you would take the time to take a class that makes you start from scratch so I give kudos just for that. Thanks for also taking the time to keep us apprised of your progress and opinions. It's entertaining and instructional. Good luck with the rest of the course. 
  • Thanks @Hilary
    and awwww @BOB73 , thank you so much!
  • Thanks for sharing this experience with us
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