Ongoing Realistic Drawing/Painting Classes

Learn to create more impactful works of art!

Work individually at your own pace and on your own projects under the guidance of Shane McDonald, a painter with more than 25 years professional experience. Learn how use of light, color, texture, line, contrast and perspective help create the illusion of space in two dimensional representational artwork. This class is ideal for students who have had some previous drawing or painting instruction and who want to maintain their passion for art by improving their skills using oils, acrylics, pastels, charcoal, or just about any media they choose.

2024 In-Person Schedule

Ages 13 - Adult | up to 10 students in each class

Free E-mail Consultation

Shane wants to cater his instruction to you. To get the most out of his class from the start, he invites you to E-mail two or three images of your artwork (even doodles) and discuss your goals and what artwork inspires you. He'll reply with some recommendations on your first project and list the best materials to bring to your first class.

Check the calendar (button above) to see when classes are scheduled. One-day workshops outside the class times will also be periodically scheduled, and those who sign-up on Shane's E-mail list will be notified when workshops are scheduled.

About Shane's Art Classes

Classes are ongoing and attended weekly at Shane's classroom studio. Shane mentors students working individually with every student one-by-one on their personal unique projects. Prospective students who are not of a beginning level are expected to bring their own ideas, sketches or photo references, and art materials to each class.

Periodically, 30-40 minutes into the first hour, he demonstrates a technique or concept for the class to watch or follow as a group exercise. Shane will explain and demonstrate exercises and techniques enabling each student's personal style to come through their work. Topics covered each week depend on the interests of the class.

Topics covered through periodic class demonstrations and group exercises:
  • Learn to see abstractly through gesture sketches
  • Types of composition and creating movement
  • Importance of composing thumbnail sketches
  • Linear perspective (1- and 2-point)
  • Values of light and dark on forms
  • Color wheel and color mixing
  • Merging/Grouping shapes for greater impact
  • Color schemes - make studies with limited palettes
  • Apply color harmony
  • Drawing features of the human head
  • Drawing features of the human body
  • Composing from more than one reference

After the exercise, Shane walks from one student to another individually critiquing each student's progress on his or her project. Each person receives instruction in the form of recommendations, encouraging comments, and answers to questions. Sometimes Shane will quickly sketch ideas for students who have trouble visualizing ways to solve artwork problems. If permission is granted by the student, Shane will also demonstrate techniques on the students' work.

While the class is designed for students who have already taken some art instruction, every season Shane invites all levels of students to attend his ongoing classes. Prospective students who consider themselves "beginners" are asked to arrive 15 minutes early for the first three classes introductory exercises at the beginning of the season.

Recommended Art Materials
for Shane's Ongoing Classes

If you're not new to taking art classes, please start the first day with the materials you already own. Shane will give further instructions based on what you need for your own projects. Most of Shane's students either draw or paint with materials on this general list of supplies. For a brief overview, tap to reveal more information below:

Oils & Acrylics

art supplies for painting
This is just a sample of the art materials Shane McDonald uses in his own painting projects. Shane recommends Emailing a description of your goals before purchasing art supplies. Why buy more than you need?
Palette Layout PDF thumbnail
Download PDF of Recommended Palette Layout
What to choose—acrylics or oils?

Attracted to details? Prefer to paint small? Shane recommends oils. Oils are easier to use for detail because of their slower drying time, and when using in small amounts, they are easier to control. Acrylics tend to become too viscous when working on subtle details. PROS: tubes of paint last a long time, they're easy to blend, and they work great for both small and large paintings. CONS: can be frustrating to try without instruction, more expensive materials needed, mineral spirits can cause some users allergic reactions.

Get bored with painting slowly? Not sure what you like? You'll probably feel a more immediate acquaintance with acrylics than with oils. Because of drying time constraints, students who use acrylics tend to use the paint more liberally and abundantly—a good thing. PROS: fast-drying, ideal for working large, clean-up with water and soap only. CONS: the pigment dries noticeably darker, and smooth blending is difficult.

Shane encourages his students to paint standing-up because it helps to keep from getting too close to the canvas (and from getting to bogged-down on insignificant details.) Easels are provided in class for up to 12 students. The following materials are up to you to bring to class:


Shane also works in watercolor and gouache and likes it because the supplies are relatively compact and light-weight for transport and because the media is great for studies and visualizing ideas. Watercolor media pigments are bound with gum arabic, and the paint in dry form can be reconstituted and manipulated by adding water. It can be used to quickly learn about color mixing and the concepts of transparency and opacity. Watercolors can be a natural and often more economical step towards painting with oils if students are only accustomed to drawing with pencil.

Paint Tube Pigments

Oil, Acrylic and Watercolor Pigments (or their color equivalents) listed below are necessary for limited-palette paintings in most lighting situations. Students are welcome to purchase the often less-expensive "hue" versions of colors. They represent a warm and cool version of the primary colors plus some secondary colors and useful neutrals. Other colors can be bought in miniature tubes or later as needed...(Download a PDF showing Shane's Limited Color Palette Layout and some helpful hints about color)

  • Titanium White (large tube)
  • Cadmium Yellow Light (warm)
  • Cadmium Red Light (warm)
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson (cool and beautifully transparent!)
  • Ultramarine Blue (cool)
  • Cerulean Blue (warm)
  • Viridian Green (cool)
  • Sap Green (warm)
  • Optional toning earth colors: (Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burn Umber and Ivory Black)


These options are listed in Shane's preferential order.

  • A 12 X 16 inch sheet of glass purchased at a home improvement/hardware store fits well within a "Mastersons" plastic palette holder (protects the wet paint during transport). The edges of the glass should be taped and backed with heavy-duty masking tape to the edges of an equally-sized gray or neutral-colored mat board. The tints and shades of colors are usually easier to see on when not on white or black. The mat board also strengthens the glass to prevent breakage.
  • Coated disposable paper palette (available at art supply stores — preferred without a thumb hole)


These options are listed in Shane's preferential order.

  • "Mastersons" "Stay-wet" palette sponge and water-soaked palette paper for use in the "Mastersons" Palette works great for most students. The colors dry much slower (in a good way) when using this palette. To learn how to prepare this palette, watch about 2 minutes of this video, follow the instructions, and you'll be set for weeks!
  • A flat plastic, wood, or coated paper palette with a 12" X 16" area works fine.

Solvents and Painting Mediums

ACRYLICS: It's not necessary to bring any water or acrylic mediums if using acrylics. Shane will supply a water container for you. He may recommend the purchase of additional acrylic painting mediums for some rare projects.

OILS: Solvent and a container for it will be necessary.

  • Mineral Spirits (solvent for oil painting used for thinning and cleaning) in Shane's preferential order
    • Gamsol by Gamblin (has no odor at all)
    • No-Od by Utrect (may have very slight odor)
    • Turpenoid by Weber (may have very slight odor)
  • Container for Solvent in Shane's preferential order
    • metal "brush-washing" jar
    • small pickle jar with sealable lid
    • if working detailed and smaller than 11 x 14, a glass baby-food jar works fine
  • Painting Medium
    • Shane will supply painting medium on the first day you need it, so don't by this until you see Shane about your options. OILS: a mixture of stand linseed oil, varnish, and turpentine (for use with oils only).
    • ACRYLICS: a fine-misting spray bottle and acrylic gel medium. Shane will supply the acrylic gel medium on the first day you need it, so don't by this until you see Shane about your options.

Brushes and Painting Tools
art supplies for painting
A sampling of the palette knives, solvent containers, and palette scraper tools Shane prefers in his own oil and acrylic painting process.
  • rags (rather than paper towels)
  • Diamond-head Palette Knife (pick sizes for scraping the palette of paint daubs and painting large and small areas). Please see photo above for an image of the type you need.
  • Brushes (Shane prefers long-bristled filberts and flats for oils and acrylics.) A selection of 4-5 Sizes should range from about 3/32 inch to about 1 inch (or larger if you work large). Some brushes should be soft with thin-fibered bristles (for smooth areas and details), and others should be more stiff with thick-fibered bristles. (Brand new painters can use Shane's brushes at the first class to see the range needed before purchasing.)
  • A #0 round pointed round brush works well for finer details, but this is likely not needed at a beginner's first class.

Painting Substrates (surface on which you paint)

The painting substrate is best chosen by your specific goals in the class. Please Email Shane before purchasing new painting substrates such as stretched canvas.

  • canvas pads or thick paper primed with acrylic gesso
  • canvas boards or primed painting panels
  • loose pre-primed canvas (that can be taped to boards)
  • (stretched canvas/linen sizes 12" X 9" and larger for both oils and acrylics)

Tote Container for Transport of Materials

Make it easy on yourself by keeping your supplies together. A rolling travel bag or a tackle box can hold paints, brushes, palette knife, rags, a jar for mineral spirits, painting medium, and other small tools.

Drawing Media & Pastels

art supplies for drawing
This is just a sample of the art materials Shane McDonald uses in his own drawing projects. Shane recommends Emailing a description of your goals before purchasing art supplies. Why buy more than you need?

Although most students in Shane's classes paint, he believes that painting is an extension of drawing—only in color. Students who struggle with capturing the accurate representation of objects are encouraged to use traditional drawing media as much as possible. He encourages students to develop a habit of creating thumbnail sketches or color studies of their designs before proceeding on their larger drawing or painting projects. This serves as a tool to bring the elements of the design together at once, allowing potential hurdles to be discovered and solved before or while working on its relative project.

Graphite Pencils
art supplies for drawing with graphite pencil
Samples of graphite pencils and other tools for drawing with this basic medium

Graphite is the lead material used in our #2 yellow pencils used in elementary school. It's a good choice for quick sketching of ideas and thumbnail designs in our sketchbook. Shane prefers using this media on small projects because it tends not to spread over large paper surfaces as quickly. It can be used for highly detailed drawings because the pencil point can sharpened well. Shane prefers use of a kneaded eraser with pencil, and he recommends a range of weights if creating a tonal value drawing. Blending tools such as stumps/tortillons can be used for blending pencil strokes. Powdered graphite and slightly-pigmented sticks can also be purchased for use on larger works. Graphite is best used on smooth white papers because it has a sheen that can reduce contrast against colored papers.

art supplies for drawing with charcoals
Samples of charcoal sticks, pencils, kneaded eraser, stumps, and other tools for drawing with this basic tonal drawing medium

Charcoals are Shane's black/white medium of choice. It's faster because the particles spread easily across the paper with many different types of tools and techniques. It's a great medium for grayscale (black/white) tonal drawings.

  • Graphite Pencil (weights/hardnesses: Ebony or 8B, 2B, HB, and 4H)
  • Kneaded Eraser Medium Size (not pink or gum eraser)
  • Range of different weights charcoal pencils (hard, medium, soft, extra soft)
  • Pack of different sized paper stumps (tortillons)
  • Vine charcoal sticks
  • Charcoal sticks
  • 18 or 24-inch straight edge/ruler
  • Drawing surface: Start with a sketch book only. Bristol and/or charcoal pads can be purchased later.
    • Sketch Book (choose size 9 x 12 to 14 x 17 inches and between) with white paper
    • Bristol Pad (choose size 11 x 14 to 18 x 24 inches and between) with white paper
    • Charcoal Pad (choose size 12 x 16 to 18 x 24 inches and between) with toned gray or brownish paper

Soft Pastels
art supplies for drawing/painting with pastels
Samples of charcoal sticks, pencils, kneaded eraser, stumps, and other tools for drawing with this basic tonal drawing medium

Soft pastels (sometimes referred to as chalk pastels) are a dry pigment medium formed into a crayon or stick. Each brand has a slight variation of softness and pigment variation, but they are usually interchangeable. They are applied in layers on paper that have a "tooth" (rougher surface) in the paper fibers or a sandy grit applied to the paper surface. Blending tools can be used to mix colors from various layers of color on the drawing/painting surface.

Want to learn about mixing colors? Pastels are a great way to learn about color mixing for those transitioning from monochromatic drawing media to color media—including paint! Pastellists should bring a complete set of at least 24 colors in medium-to-soft (non-oil-based) pastels. Some pastel pencils are also recommended. Contact Shane (E-mail) for more information on purchasing and using pastels.

Tote Container for Transport of Materials

Make it easy on yourself by keeping your supplies together. A small tackle box can hold pencils, graphite or charcoal sticks, stumps and tortillons, erasers, white and sepia conté, an ink stylus, pen nibs, perhaps a short straight-edge, and a sharpener. If you like to work large, it may be a good idea to keep your large pads of paper in a portfolio case. The other supplies may fit well in a zippered pouch.

Reference Materials

The easiest and best way Shane can help you achieve your desired effect in painting is through the use of references.

  • Your own photographs: Most of Shane's students use their own photos to inspire their projects in class. These references of places, animals, people, or things enable Shane to understand the student's vision for a particular project. Shane teaches how to see representational elements by helping to interpret the way forms are shaped, how the relative scale of objects changes in space, and how light affects tonal values and/or colors.
  • Reproductions of masterful paintings: While Shane emphasizes the importance of respecting copyright of images by others in his classes, he does acknowledge that a great way to learn technique is by copying and studying masterful artworks of the old masters.
  • Magazine pictures: Since images are plentiful in the pages of Magazines, looking at them to understand how things appear in different positions and lighting situations can help with their depiction in drawings and paintings. Clippings can be mixed and matched and applied as collage in some final projects as well. Shane encourages experimentation in his classes as there is no limit to the image-making possibilities.
  • Studies of ideas on paper: Your own sketches and doodles can offer plenty of inspiration for larger paintings and drawings. Why not try letting your imagination go wild? Use the elements and principles of design to bring exciting compositions to fruition.
  • Still-life objects: If space permits, you may bring your own simple objects to paint in a quick still-life setup (which must be taken down at the end of class) or you may use my collection of still-life objects. Please be prepared to light your setup on your own. You may take digital reference images of the still-life at the end of class.
  • Digital Media: Shane has some small easels that will hold digital tablets and laptop computers. More and more students use electronics to display their reference images.
  • Digital Reference Apps and Tools: Shane often uses human posing apps such as Art Pose, Art Model, and Handy, to aid in the understanding of human form when seen in different positions and lighting. These apps allow one to manipulate body positions in a virtual space. Shane also uses an iPad and the iPad app, Procreate, to make digital studies. It can also be used as an aide to quickly correct rendering problems in complex representational artwork. Notanizer is a great app to help simplify tonal values in a digital photograph.
Shane points instructs an oil painting art student
Shane is a wonderful, supportive teacher. He's encouraging, knowledgeable and easygoing. Highly recommend!
Shane prepared my son for more challenging things in high school. I believe that young people who are serious about developing their artistic talents would benefit from receiving instruction from Shane.
Shane is one of the most knowledgeable fine art teachers I have ever known! His ability to share his knowledge in a formative way helped me to hone in on each aspect of a specific skill allowing me to complete one segment of learning at a time. Whether it be drawing or painting, he allowed plenty of time to exercise my newly found artistic expression thus allowing the freedom be able to take the knowledge home and practice.

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