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Principles of Painting: Complete Set Review by Lynne Westbrook

Brian Neher - Artist
Brian Neher Fine Art

Art was always one of my favorite subjects in school. The subject allowed for creativity and the ability to express myself without the structure and boundaries of many other traditional topics.  My daughters, as well, have a love of painting and drawing, so we were excited to incorporate Brian Neher's Principles of Painting into our learning experience and homeschool curriculum.

Brian Neher is a premier portrait painter featured in several major art publications, received national recognition, and appeared on national public television on a magazine format show. He continues to commission extraordinary portraits and has taken his love of art and created his own signature training series. This signature training series is what our family has incorporated into our own learning process at home.  The series is currently available in both DVD and download versions. However, it should be noted that they will be switching to a streaming option in the future. The instructional series includes five videos that combined contain nearly sixteen hours of instruction. Each video focuses on one of the foundation principles of four areas of artistic understanding: Drawing, Value, Color, and Edges.  Each of these courses is available individually or as a complete set that includes Painting Outdoor Light. The cost of the complete set download is $189.00 (or $199.00 for DVDs).

Our homeschool classes have always incorporated some artistic expression.  This course, however, allowed us to have the experience of going step-by-step with a premier painter and observing every aspect of how he develops a painting or drawing.  This is an excellent program for any visual learner because each video is hands-on and feels like you are in the room with the artist.  This series goes beyond your typical art lesson and goes in-depth into the intricacies and complexities of the principles of art and how each aspect is essential to achieving a realistic outcome.  My oldest daughter learns best by watching and listening, so she absorbed much more from these lessons than typical videos or book studies.  We set up a laptop in a room with our canvases and art supplies. We followed along with Brian Neher as he mixed colors, developed edges, and gave an easy-to-understand explanation of the importance of value in art and color development. 

In my opinion, this series gives the viewer something that most courses do not – the experience of being in the room with a premier painter while he explains each step of his approach.  While many classes give you the basics, this one goes into sixteen hours of shadowing with a professional.  We could observe his technique as he used a glass palate and showed us how to mix the primary colors to create secondary colors. He then stresses the importance of value in color mixing and development.  Another topic, light, has always been a tricky subject for me, and getting the warmth of natural light and shadows of light placement is made much easier as you walk through paintings step-by-step with the painter himself.  We enjoyed his natural style and easy conversation as he spoke each visual step into life and shared his knowledge just as if we were in a private lesson with him.  We did find the downloads to be a bit time-consuming, depending on your internet speed and traffic times. However, once downloaded, you can view it again and again at your own pace.

I appreciated the way these courses were put together.  They made some challenging concepts, like value, much easier to understand. Watching the artist mix colors and show color wheels for representation combined visual and auditory instruction that would appeal to any learning style.  I would highly recommend these courses to beginning artists, as well as seasoned artists.  A new learner would find this instruction valuable in every way to develop a foundation that will last a lifetime.  A seasoned artist would discover so many nuances and details that would improve their current work.  You can have a premier artist visit you in your home at any time and teach you to paint with professionalism and patience!

-Product review by Lynne Westbrook, LPC, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2021