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Fun with Textures Review by Jennifer Ladewig

Sue Riger
Sue Riger Studio

The Sue Riger Studio School of Painting offers online video tutorial courses for exploring fun and creative ways to express oneself through art. In this review, I focus on Fun with Textures, which shows simple techniques for creating DIY canvas boards that students will then begin learning how to layer paint to create a beautiful work of art.

According to Sue, “It’s been said that a sure sign of a professional painting is the generous application of paint. You won’t believe how fun and easy this is!” In this course, students will learn details about a wide variety of ready-made painting surfaces, also known as substrates, how to achieve texture with acrylic paints, how to create your own canvas board, and finally, techniques to make your paintings look more interesting and professional. The course is 40 minutes long, split into three main sections.

The course begins with a section titled Get Ready for Some Fun! This section includes a list of supplies needed, an Introduction to Textures, and Here’s Your Reference Photo. The first main section, entitled “Foundations Make a Difference: Let’s Look at Substrates,” talks about cold-pressed and hot-pressed watercolor paper, student canvases, gallery depth canvases, and museum depth canvases and what makes them all different. Sue talks about low-quality board, artist panel, clay board, gesso board, encaustic board, hardboard panel, wood panel, and float frame.

In the second section, titled “DIY Linen and Cotton Canvas Boards: An Engaging & Fun Process,” she discusses the different types of materials that students can use to construct their painting canvas. Sue suggests finding an 8x8” hardboard, wood panel, or cradled board. Cotton or linen fabric will be used to make the painting surface. She elaborates on the weave and texture of different materials. Sue gives easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions as she demonstrates the process. She is very effective at explaining art terminology and visually showing product pictures and brushes she is using.

The third and final section is titled “Building Texture with Paint: Every Layer Counts - a painting demonstration.” This is where the real fun begins! Sue begins by directing students to paint on their canvases. After the canvas has dried, Sue will guide students through the steps of creating their painting. This will include line work with chalk to the finishing touches with texturing with a palette knife. The cost of the course is $50. 

Sue gives details on some of the supplies, but for this review, I will not add those details. For Fun with Textures, you will need the following:

  • 8x8 board
  • Cotton or linen fabric
  • Wood glue
  • An old gift card or Brayer
  • Craft knife and cutting board or cardboard
  • Sandpaper
  • Panclub brush or inexpensive brush
  • Gesso
  • Chalk, pencil, vine charcoal
  • Heavy-body acrylic paint
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Quinacridone Red
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Pthalo Blue
  • Optional palette knife
  • Liner brush
  • Brushes
  • Palette
  • Water and a water bucket
  • Apron
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle

Fun with Textures is intended for adults but could be used by mature students with some painting experience. There is a discount offered to groups. Individuals need only purchase the course and supplies. The course is appropriate for those wanting to learn how to paint or artists wishing to improve their painting techniques.

There are three sections in this 40-minute course. Section 1 is 11:37, Section 2 is 8:19, and Section 3 is 20:02 in length. In each of these sections, there will be times when students will have to pause the video to allow their canvas to dry.

I dealt with some technical issues that were in no way the fault of the Sue Riger Studio website. Unfortunately, my lovely child somehow managed to mess up my account. Since the Sue Riger website utilizes as its underlying platform, I could not access the courses; I had to contact Sue and ask for help. I felt horrible. She emailed me back quickly and was extremely kind and helpful. She helped me get re-established, and we were able to resume where we left off.

Sue’s teaching style is laid-back, which places her students at ease. Throughout the painting process, when Sue makes a mistake or doesn’t like how something looks, she shows students how to erase or blend to fix the problem. In addition, she gives some excellent tips, such as using a spray bottle filled with water to spritz the paint on the palette if it starts to dry out. During the painting lesson, a few topics discussed are creating shadows, highlights, light, and heavy brush strokes, establishing shape, value, texture, blending, and establishing a center line. 

Fun with Textures was a fun course! I like that the course has students not only painting but making their own canvas! I have never encountered another art curriculum or stand-alone course where students learn to make their own canvas. Yes, it does require the purchase of art supplies, but it gives “the artist” a chance to play with and create different canvases with fabrics such as muslin, flax, linen, and cotton, which all have widely different textures. That in itself is art. Sue does a great job guiding students through this process.

At first, I balked at the thought of making my own canvas. However, after starting the process, I had so much fun. Seeing a DIY canvas complete is impressive. While I am not talented in the arts, I still love creating art. Both my teen daughter and I enjoyed working through this course.

I naturally have a challenging time with worry and stress. However, while working on this course, I found myself so uber-focused that I could forget about everything else. That is HUGE for me. I only wish it was as effortless and natural as it was for talented ARTISTS! For the win, I will concentrate on the therapeutic aspect of art.

I highly recommend anyone taking this course find a table to dedicate solely to Fun with Textures for at least four days or more. With my unpredictable schedule due to health issues, homeschooling my children, and everyday life demands, it took me over a week to complete this course. This is one reason I love online self-paced courses. 

Sue has two other courses on her website, both intended for adults or mature students. The first is Simply Glass. In the Simply Glass course, students will learn techniques for drawing and painting glass that simplify the subject. Sue says painting glass is more straightforward than one thinks. In this course, students will also learn Sue’s simplified way of creating her popular painted hydrangeas. Sue will also teach students the art of painting to make their work come alive with light. The course is 1 1/2 hours long and broken into seven sessions. Sue does a fantastic job of being efficient with her time while still packing in many techniques and learning.

I want to clarify that students are drawing and painting glass vases and bottles on sketch paper and art canvases. Students are not painting on glass. A few course objectives are to gain more mastery of perspective and an ellipse, achieve color harmony, understand how water distorts objects, and explore light sources.

Of the three courses, Fun with Textures, Simply Glass, and The Painted Pear, Sue recommends taking Simply Glass first because it has lessons on learning to draw. The course offers concise instructions but is packed with painting tips too. 

The third course, The Painted Pear, explores fun ways to create paintings. In this course, Sue takes her inspiration from works of art by twenty-five master painters. The course is 7 hours and 38 minutes long and broken into eight units. By exploring beyond the basic color wheel, students learn to play around with color schemes, choose colors strategically, experiment with triads, and split complementary themes.

The course uses a file of 75 reference photos compiled by Sue. The images are of pears of all different shapes, colors, and sizes next to various vases, cups, pitchers, and backgrounds. Students will create a separate art piece in each unit with pears as the theme.

In one unit entitled “Loose Pears - stand back and be amazed,” Sue has you tape your paintbrush to a long stick to paint your canvas. Students then complete their artwork by drawing or painting the pear.

In another unit titled “Adding Texture, Color, and Pattern with Collage,” she shows students fun ways to make collages with texture, color, and pattern. Using National Geographic Magazines and Citra Solv, Sue demonstrated a fascinating technique to create collage paper. This technique creates the most striking collage paper I have ever seen!

After working with the palette knife in Fun with Textures, the unit in The Painted Pear entitled “The Power of a Palette Knife” sounded all too fun! Who knew that you could have so much fun making art with pears? Sue hopes to add a course on abstract painting in the future eventually.

I am always curious about what motivates an individual or company to begin. I searched the website and couldn’t find the answer, so I contacted Sue to ask. She responded, “Covid confined us all. Teaching online was a way to reach people and to help others. It broke through the boundaries of sheltering at home. I met so many wonderful people who are still friends with me now. Some have even visited me from out of state!” Simply Glass and The Painted Pear have private Facebook groups for support and free critiques.

In addition, Sue has courses for children. She offers Draw Near, Track 1 (  for kindergarten through middle school and offers multiple levels of difficulty for each unit. Coloring pages are included for preschoolers so they don’t get left out. She designed Draw Near, Track 2 for mature middle school students through high school. Sue homeschooled for eighteen years, so she truly understands the needs of homeschoolers. 

I highly recommend The Sue Riger Studio School of Painting Fun with Textures and the other two courses, Simply Glass and The Painted Pear. These courses bundled together would be an excellent way for a high school student to earn art credit toward graduation. Whether the students are sixteen, sixty-six, or ninety-six, Sue will teach, encourage, and make all have fun along the way. 

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® March 2023