Apptus Team Event – Video

Another FUN team building event in my favorite Italian restaurant in Burlingame. Lots of wine, passed appetizers and team spirit. Thanks Apptus for a GREAT team event!

Looking for something fun and creative to reward your employees? Look no further, as we specialize in hosting painting parties for company events.

Forget the “circle of trust” exercises or competing with each other in athletic scavenger hunt events. No one wants to be put on the spot at a company event. Painting is something that is fun, easy to do and non-competitive.

For more fun videos visit our YouTube channel.
Looking to book a future event? Email for details & availability.

Gilead Team Building event VIDEO

Gilead Team Building event VIDEO
I was looking thru last years team parties and found some fun photos at my Gilead Team event. Everyone was having so much fun that I forgot to take any video.  So I decided to make the photos into a fun video, and here it is!   Hope you enjoy my latest video.

This was an action packed 2 hour event with lots of great appetizers and wine to fuel the “Inner Artistic Spirit” in everyone. Look at all those great paintings!

For more short videos, please visit my Team Events Play List on YouTube.

Thanks for watching,
Michael Rodman, Founder and Art Instructor

[VIDEO] Saint Veronica Holiday Team Event

Saint Veronica Catholic School decided to have a “surprise Painting Party” for their Holiday event. Every year they try to add a new event and mix things up. VIPARTEVENTS hosted this Painting Party at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame. The event lasted 2 hours and included wine and passed appetizers provided by Pablo, Chef/Owner. Everyone had ton’s of fun and came away with nice paintings!

Looking to have a fun and creative experience at your next team event? 
Call 415-286-3707

So many colors to choose from? Keep it simple…

OK, It’s time to buy more oil paints and you walk into your local art supplies store. (Hopefully NOT a Big Box Crafts warehouse) All those shiny tubes of vibrant colors are calling to you. So which green should I buy? Will it be Sap Green, Permanent Green, Viridian and the list goes on. Buying oil paints is like buying shoes, you can spend a fortune, have too many choices and a storage problem.

Here is a photo of my basic oil painting painting palette of colors and their layout.

Simple Oil Painting Palette

3 primaries plus White and a few “convenience colors”.

Remember the KISS method, Keep It Simple Students! Stick with three primary colors plus white and you can save yourself lots of color mixing headaches. Focus on quality paints, rather than price. Save you money to buy quality brushes.
SHOPPING ALERT: If you see large tubes of paint, all the same price, you are buying “student grade” paints filled with lots of fillers, and very little pigment.

My recommended Beginner Oil Painting colors in 37ml. tubes (except White):
Premalba White (150 ml. large tube)
Cadmium Yellow Light or Medium (get the Light if possible)
Alizarin Crimson
Ultramarine Blue

Convenience colors, buy as needed:
Naples Yellow Light ( I use it as a warmer version of white)
Yellow Ochre (excellent landscape color)
Transparent Iron Oxide Red ( base pigment of Burnt Sienna without the chalky look)
Burnt Umber (mix it 50/50 with Ultramarine Blue for a Chromatic Black)
Cadmium Red Light/Medium (not recommended for mixing purples)
Cobalt Blue (very expensive, like 4X,  but a great sky color)

Disclaimer: I recommend buying Utrecht Oil Paints if available, as they are the best quality for the best price. All my teachers at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco use these paints personally and recommend them highly. None of us are getting paid a dime to endorse their great product.  If your local store does not offer these paints, I recommend buying them online at:

My second choice would be Gamblin Artist Oils and their Gamsol Odorless Paint thinner.

Happy Painting!
Michael Rodman – Oil Painter – Art Instructor in San Francisco area.

When is my painting finished?


Before we answer the question, “Which paints to buy, so many to choose from?”,  I thought we would tackle a more universal question all painters ultimately ask.
And that is … “When is my painting finished?”
Beginning students and established oil painters all face this same dilemma . Just when do you stop painting on your painting?

Here are my top 6 recommendations of questions to ask yourself about your painting.

  1. Check your drawing for accuracy. Look at all the objects and make sure the drawing is as accurate as possible. Check that all buildings, and building elements like windows, doors, and roof lines have the correct “one or two-point perspective” lines and that everything is consistent. Perspective is one of those things that viewers notice immediately. Similar to facial relationships in portraits.
  2. Can you improve on the overall composition? Sometimes nature needs a bit of help to make the perfect painting composition. This is where your “artistic license” comes into play. Look for dull and drab large color areas that might be improved by adding additional shrubs, trees or rocks to break up the area. You don’t want a large area to look like it is one big piece of construction paper having the same color. The goal is to make every part of the painting interesting, not just the main focal point or area.
  3. Check your color values. We have covered this in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating. Make sure there are no pure colors, like red and yellow, in distant objects. Distant objects should be lighter and bluer and more blurred. Look at distant objects close to the sky and remember that this intersection should be close in values. Lighter mountains should be touching the lighter sky above. Looking at your focal point, do you have sharp contrast in values and color to draw the viewer’s attention. Usually your focal point/area is the place where the “darkest dark is next to the lightest light”.
  4. Monitor your edges, soften when in doubt. This goes back to values and not being a slave to copying your photo. Most beginner painters always paint the distant mountain range, or tree line way too dark. When you ask them why, the answer is always the same, “because that is what I see in the photo”. Yes, cameras are designed to increase contrast, but they are lying to us as painters. You can prove this to yourself by observing the same distant tree line against the sky from direct observation. Walk outside and really look at things receding in the distance.  They do in fact get lighter, bluer and softer. Often the best thing you can do is take your Universal #6 round brush, your finger, and blur the edges between two objects to lower the contrast.
  5. Stop Early! It’s better to have a painting a little underdone, than overdone. More damage can be done in the last 5-10 minutes of a painting, by adding that “one last perfect thing”. Resist the urge and stop painting!  Beginning artists often lay down one great powerful brush stroke, and then remove all that greatness by fussing with it after the fact. Jerry Yarnell, a great acrylic painting instructor on PBS television, calls it “licking the painting to death”.
  6. Sign it and sell it! Now that you have checked the drawing, composition, color values and edges, it’s time to sign your painting. Most collectors want to see your signature on the face of the painting. Some artists use thinned out paint or they carve their name in the fresh thick paint showing the raw canvas below (my preferred technique). Whatever your style, please remember to leave room for the frame. Allow 1” below and 1″ to the side of your signature, so that the frame does not cover your name. Finally, sell that painting! The world is waiting to own your latest creation so don’t hide it in the garage. Share it with the world on Instagram, your website and Facebook.Next time we will tackle the subject of:
    “Paint Buying Pitfalls – A recommended Shopping List for the Beginner”

PS If you want to become a better painter & improve your skills as an artist, CLICK HERE.

If you like these painting tips, please SHARE them with friends & LIKE us on Facebook!

Michael Rodman – Oil Painter – Art Instructor.

Yikes, so many greens to mix

oil painting, oil pigments, color mixing,“Yikes, so many greens to mix”.

Beginning painters always struggle with mixing the “perfect green”.  There are lots of greens out in nature. Paint manufacturers want to sell you as many tubes of paint as you are willing to buy. So they mix up all these different greens. Some you’ll see are Brilliant Green, Chromium Green Oxide, Cobalt Green, Green Earth, Permanent Green, Olive Green, Sap Green and my least favorite, Phthalo Green.  Basically most  greens are a just mixture of the two primaries, Yellow and Blue.  I’ll be presenting an easy step by step process to mix all the colors from freshly cut grass to olive green oak trees.

Here are my tips for mixing greens:

  1. Keep it simple & limit your primary colors.
    You don’t need to buy 5 tubes of green, just to get the right color. The key to mixing greens is to practice mixing them with only a limited number of Yellows and Blues. I recommend using Ultramarine Blue to start, as it is the most versatile blue you can use for painting.
  2. Practice mixing a “Green Value Scale”.
    Imagine a Black & White value scale where you go from 100% Black, thru the values of 80%, 60%, 40%, 20% grey and finally 100% white. You have all seen this classical Black to White Value scale. Now replace the Black in the example with Ultramarine Blue and replace the White with a Cadmium Yellow Light or Med. Mix a “Greens value scale” like the photo above. Make sure you have a full “value step” or change in color from swatch to swatch. I recommend you save this exercise on a small 5×7 or 6×8 canvas board and write down the pigment colors used and the brand of paint for future reference.
  3. Next, vary ONLY your yellow pigment for more shades of green.
    Try using a cooler yellow like Lemon Yellow to get that fresh cut grass color. Or substitute Yellow Ochre, a desaturated yellow, for that earthy oak green foliage. All the time you are using the same Ultramarine Blue.
  4. Limit your color mixing to the “local color”, plus a lighter & darker version.
    I always try to mix the “medium value local color” of the object being painted. Mix a medium value green of the tree or bush you are painting using your favorite yellow and Ultramarine Blue (UMB). Next darken that same medium green mixture with more blue to make the “shadow green” value. Going back to the medium value green mixture, add more yellow to make the “highlight green” value. You should now have 3 different values of green, the lightest highlight, the medium value green and the darker shadow green.
  5. It’s all about brush mileage, so practice, practice and practice. Challenge yourself to mix as many greens you can mix using Ultramarine Blue only and varying the different yellow I have mentioned. Then replace the UMB with a Cobalt or Kings Blue by Rembrandt and again vary your favorite yellow.

FYI, I do NOT recommend using Cerulean, Manganese or Phthalo Blue ever. They are man-made synthetic blues, not normally found in nature. Also any paint name that says HUE or Etude, means they have cut the pigment strength of the paint with fillers, often marble dust, to lower the price and quality of the paint pigment.  

You get what you pay for. Expensive perfume or eau de toilet?  Would you rather eat Filet Mignon or ground beef?  Buy quality materials and use less of them.

Our next blog topic is: “Which paints to buy, so many to choose from?”
Going to the local big box art supplies store can be a challenge. Often the quality is low and the selection limited.  Medium quality paints are often labeled “Professional Grade” and marked up accordingly. Phrases like Etude, the word for student in French, are used to make lower quality supplies sound expensive, but they really are just “student grade materials”.

PS: Valuable tip: Look at the price of individual tubes of paint. If they are all the same price, regardless of the color, you are more than likely buying lower quality paints. Paint pigments vary in price based on a “SERIES number” from 1 to 5 printed on the paint tube. (Series 5 being the most expensive like your Cobalt and Cadmium pigments, while your earth colors, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Umber, are always Series 1 and less expensive.) Read the labels carefully.

If you like Michael Rodman’s Painting Tips and Tricks please SHARE this material with your friends.

“Focus on value, not on color…”

painting, oil painting, society of six, art“Focus on value, not on color…”

This motto should be tattooed to every artist’s arm, so they don’t forget. Or at least written on a piece of masking tape and placed on your painting palette/easel as a reminder. Beginning artists tend to drive themselves crazy and spend way too much time “mixing the perfect color”. Rather they should be thinking more about the correct “value”, the lightness or darkness of a color. A traditional value scale ranges from 100% white to 100% black, with all the shades of grey in between.

Here are some tips to remember about mixing and positioning the right color value:

  1. Things in the distance are lighter and bluer. In previous postings I mentioned, things in a landscape painting vary in value, based on where they are positioned on the painting. Distant trees/hills are always lighter, bluer and slightly more grey than objects in the foreground. Next time you drive along Hwy. 280 or your local Interstate, look at how distant trees get lighter the further away they are from you. That’s how they must be painted, lighter and lighter the further away they are..
  2. Save your darkest shadows for the foreground. Every vertical object outside casts a shadow, assuming the sun is out. Painting shadows can be tricky because the same rules apply to shadows as I mentioned above. Your eyes and mind tell you that all shadows are dark, so you end up painting them too dark everywhere. Imagine trees on a distant hillside. If you look carefully, they are casting shadows on the ground nearby. When it comes time to painting them, lighten them up with a touch of white or Naples Yellow Light to make them more soft and muted.
  3. It’s not about the color, it’s about the value. Look at my painting above. I painted it in honor of a group of local California outdoor painters called, The Society of Six. In this painting I tried to break all the traditional color rules by using only the 3 primary colors. So a normal blue sky was painted a bright yellow, distant green hills were painted red, and the green tree foliage was painted dark blue. The painting still “reads as a painting” without using traditional landscape colors because the values of the 3 primaries still represent, light, medium and dark areas of the painting. I challenge you to paint a landscape painting using only 3 primaries plus white and no mixing of the secondary colors allowed. You will be amazed at your final results.
  4. Mix the objects “middle value” first. Trying to mix the perfect color takes way too much valuable painting time. Better to mix the “local color” or “average color” of an object and then lighten and darken the mixture as needed.
  5. Save your highest contrast values for your focal point/area. As I mentioned in Blog #2, photos show everything in high contrast. As a painter, you want the viewer to focus on what’s important to you in the painting. Said another way, painting your “darkest dark” next to your “lightest light” forces the viewer’s attention to look at your painting’s focal point/area. Everything outside your focal area should be painted less bright, more muted in color and without crisp edges.

FYI, our next blog is entitled, “Yikes, so many greens to mix”.  Beginners always struggle with mixing the “perfect green”, as there are so many green objects in nature.  I’ll be presenting an easy step by step process to mix all your greens from freshly cut grass to olive green oak trees. Please feel free forward and share this info with fellow painters.

Painting from Photos, friend or foe?

painting, oil painting, art class, team building event

“Painting from Photos, Friend or Foe”? Painting Tips & Tricks by Michael Rodman.
This question always come up in my regular Tuesday night Oil Painting Classes.  Many of my students want to paint from internet or calendar photos.  Here are tips on using photos as reference material:

  1. Take your own photographs! There is nothing like being outside taking photographs of your favorite subject matter. You remember the weather, the sounds, the smells and how great it feels to be out in nature.
  2. Forget painting from Internet photos. Most photographs on the internet are tweaked in Photoshop or some other photo editing program and have insane color combinations. The color saturation has been overly adjusted so everything looks like it’s made of plastic with neon electric colors that don’t exist in nature. Your paintings should represent nature to the viewer, not make them run for their sunglasses.
  3. Copying other artist paintings is a bad decision. Here’s a few questions you might ask yourself before you think of copying another artist work on the Internet. First, is the painting painted by an experienced artist and is it any good?  Anyone can upload an image of a painting onto the internet. About 90% of all the ones my artists bring to me have painting errors. Things like bad drawing and perspective, inconsistent lights and shadows and poor color or value decisions. Most always have poor compositions.  Bottom line is the phrase, GIGO, garbage in, garbage out. Why invest your time and painting supplies replicating a poorly painted painting you saw on the internet? Use it for inspiration maybe, but make it your own creation!
  4. Photos make everything in HIGH CONTRAST! Your camera’s main function is to make everything it captures thru its lens, razor sharp. Basically it makes the lights, lighter and the darks, way too dark. Not just in the foreground, but all those trees way back in the distance. It increases the contrast on everything. When I see a painting where everything in the painting is painted in fine detail, including off in the distance, I know it was painted from a photo. Basically a beginner mistake. If you were outside looking at that same image, you would see the distant objects are lighter, softer and bluer. Experienced painters know NOT to trust the photo 100%. Use it for reference, but “paint what you know”.
  5. Use your camera for composition first, and color second. I take tons of photos outdoors that later become great paintings. The camera helps you focus on just what fits into the viewfinder. Said another way, it helps you crop your paintings composition. Many folks take gigabytes of digital photos only to run out of storage space on your SD card. I prefer to set my camera settings at the old VGA setting of 640×480. I just want the overall composition without 12MB of useless color detail. I use the camera to “crop as you go” to avoid endless hours in Photoshop. If you find a great subject, crop it vertically and horizontally, and zoom in for the real winning composition.

If you find these Painting Tips & Tricks helpful, please share these with a friend and ask them to join my mailing list.


Your #1 painting question… answered.

Sosh Paint Tins

Your #1 Painting Question answered…
I’ve been teaching weekly painting parties for the past 4 years at local bars and restaurants. My weekly painting party philosophy is you should walk out with more painting skills than you walked in with. Yes, you bought a ticket to have a few drinks with your friends & have fun, but why not pick up some painting pointers along the way? Art classes are expensive and a huge investment of your precious time. So for the price of a happy hour meal with drinks, you learn how to be a better painter, one painting class at a time.

On to your #1 Painting question…
Probably the most asked question in all my painting parties is, “How can I make my painting better?” This is a tough one to answer as every painting is different from the next. Some paintings need more small details and others need just to be signed. The overall goal is to make things look more three dimensional.  Some paintings I see “were done 30 minutes ago”, and now they are in that “danger zone” of ruining the past 2 hours of effort. Knowing “when to stop painting” is a whole other topic, so let’s save that for a future discussion.

Here are a few general tips on, “How to make your painting better”.

  1. Look for ways to increase contrast in your painting. Make the shadows a bit darker, especially in the foreground area. Look for ways to “add a highlight” on an object to indicate which side of the object is lit by the sun.
  2. Reduce any distant details in the background areas of your painting. Details only belong in the foreground, so blur things far away.
  3. Things get lighter and more blue in the distance. So no bright yellows or reds in the distance. The phrase “purple mountains Majesty” pretty much sums it up. Softer more muted colors belong in the distance.
  4. Look for areas to add a few “BOLD artistic strokes” and leave them alone. Beginning painters might add a great stroke to their canvas and then “lick it to death”. That means they try to “fix it”, when it looks great AS IS!
  5. Learn to stop before it’s done. As the artist, your job is to let the viewer participate in the viewing of the painting. If you paint everything in excruciating detail, then your painting looks more like a photograph. And this invites the viewer to look for flaws in your painting.  My motto is, “Better to be underdone than overdone”.

If you find this information helpful, please drop me a line and let me know what you think and what other questions you want answered.  I answer all emails so feel free to share your thoughts at