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Our newsletter contains a free lesson for Beginners, advice from Barry John Raybould on how to make the best use of your painting time, any special offers we are running for new and existing students, as well as lots of information about what is happening on the VAA online campus (our student meeting place).

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What you will find new on the Virtual Art Academy Online Campus this month.

Virtual Art Academy
Members’ Newsletter: February 2017

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to all your friends as well as to any art groups to which you belong, and let them know about the Virtual Art Academy. They can sign up to receive a copy of the newsletter into their Inbox by signing up here.

Please note that the links for more information will only work if you are a member and logged onto the Online Campus. If you are not a member of the Online Campus, you can join here. It is easy to try the program to see if you like it, since we have a simple pay-as-you-go system which you can cancel at any time.

Hello from Barry

Hi everyone,
I am in England at the moment in Surrey experiencing what it is like to do plein air painting in England in the middle of the winter, and in the rain and drizzle. Yes it is possible!  After starting out thinking this was probably a bad idea, it turned out (artistically, if not from the point of view of comfort) to be quite a rewarding experience.
When the weather is grey and overcast you start to notice all the subtle changes of colour in the fields and in the trees. You see tinges of warm russets in the leafless branches of certain species of trees, warm red ochres in the dead ferns, and various green and yellow ochres in the fields. The mist and drizzle also flattens the values and gives you interesting gradations and edges to paint. Farm buildings become indistinct blocks of reds and blue greys which provide nice abstract elements for you to play with in the design.
Surprising as it might seem for someone who is more used to mediterranean skies, it was quite fun.

Happy painting!

Beginner’s Corner
Key Discovery: Saturation

The saturation of a color is its degree of richness, purity, or grayness. Other commonly used terms for saturation are intensity or chroma of a color.
Munsell notation – saturation
The numbers in the table below refer to the saturation as measured by the Munsell system and notation. This notation goes from 0
(black and white) to 10/12/14 for the most saturated tube colors, with 14 being the maximum saturation possible.

Read More




See Lesson: B06

Last Month’s Graduate VM&P Critique Challenge

This is the painting by Bato Dugarzhapov that students analyzed last month. Here are my observations on this painting:

There is a clear contrast of temperature with the cool blues being the dominant colour in the painting. Even though the dominant temperature is cool, the artist conveys the feeling of a summer day by using blues and greens that have a warm bias. Descriptive brushwork in the clouds using impasto brush strokes suggests the motion of clouds scurrying across the sky, and so reinforces the idea of sailing. Horizontal lines of the piers and distant shoreline establish a sense of calm and a relaxing day sailing. Together these characteristics convey the concept of the painting “a summer’s day out at the lake”.

Rather than detail the buildings, he uses suggestion through use of block like brushwork. This creates interesting near music.

The painting has a simple two value notan structure, and is painted in the middle value range using poly-isochromes in the water. Note the subtle changes in the colour of the water as the water becomes shallower. This use of colour is very characteristic of Dugarzhapov’s work.

Read More

Master Artist To Study This Month

This month’s artist was an Australian landscape painter and leading member of the Heidelberg School, also known as Australian Impressionism.

He was was born in Mount Duneed, near Geelong, and his family moved to Richmond in 1874. His parents had met on the voyage from England in 1854. In 1882, he commenced art studies with G. F. Folingsby at the National Gallery School.

He was was influenced by French Impressionism and the works of Turner. During this time he began his association with fellow artists Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts — at Melbourne including at Box Hill and Heidelberg. In 1885 he presented his first exhibition at the Victorian Academy of Art. He found employment as an apprentice lithographer under Charles Troedel.

He is my favorite Australian landscape painter. I was fortunate to see some of his work in person in Adelaide, and only when you look closely at the application of paint can you truly appreciate his mastery. He has a rare combination of mastery in both composition and color. In particular note his use of warm/cool variations in the brushwork, bold bravura brushwork, use of thick and thin paint, and atmospheric perspective which often he creates by using sharper focus and harder edges in the foreground, and softer edges in the background.

Join Discussion

Graduate Focus Lesson This Month:
Flattening Values

This month’s focus for more advanced students is ……


See Lesson: M01 Flattening Values

Free Course Updates Available: Imprimatura

At the workshop I gave in California lasts year I gave a demonstration of how to do an imprimatura. The imprimatura is important for a seascape like this since it is what helps you create the beautiful grays. I created a video to share with those of you who could not come to the workshop.

See Lesson: Imprimatura

Free Course Updates Available

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Many years ago, in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the museum let me have an original Michelangelo drawing to study first hand.  It was very interesting to learn first hand how he used contour lines to enhance the shading of the darks. I have made a video lesson for you to show you what I learned.

Watch Video

Test yourself on the Munsell color notation system. The system is a quick and convenient way to record colors in your sketch books, when you only have a pencil.

Take the Test

Tips for Using The Online Campus:
Using the Course Units as Reference

I structured the materials not only for efficient learning, but also for quick reference. Because of this you can easily refer back to the course materials over and over again and easily find what you are looking for. In all the course units, each step-by-step procedure, technique, and principle is on a separate page, and all the tips and cautions relative to that topic are listed together. So if you are painting reflected light, you know exactly where to go for tips on that subject – the page on reflected light.

As an aside, this is why I wrote the course in the first place – I knew there were many “gems” of knowledge buried deep in the notes I took during the workshops I have taken over the years, but they were simply too difficult to find again. In some cases I ended up going back to the same instructor, spending another $2,000 for tuition and travel for a week-long workshop and hearing the same thing I was told during the last workshop I attended!

By structuring my own personal notes in this way, I now have access to all the knowledge that used to be buried.

My Reference Library

Interesting Student Discussions on The Online Campus


“This Edgar Payne painting as I see it. Not a very good color harmony I think. “
… Barry

“Barry, I have to agree with your color wheel  demonstration. There was something that seemed somewhat disconcerting [about this painting] and maybe that is what it is.  However, I can take many examples of what people post as pure complementary and find other “hues” within the scheme.  I am just never sure when it is “right” or when it is stretched a bit too thin, or maybe, wide is the better term.”
… Kevin

“You are right Kevin, I think color wheels are of limited use for this reason. However, the concept of balance in a color harmony is useful I think. Also this type of analysis can help you identify a missing color in a painting, or a color that is out of place. Here are some advanced thoughts on color harmony.”
… Barry

From lesson: Axx

Comments From Barry

More great work from our students.

This beautiful painting by Bob Michener has a very nicely focused narrative concept. The large axe acts as an organizational structure. So this painting has unity both in design and concept. Good notan and flattening of values too. 

 Also note the tie together provided by the axe.

From: Intermediate IP Level SIG

Virtual Art Academy Options

When joining the VAA you have a choice of three programs:

  • Program A: an Art Appreciation Program for hobbyists and art collectors
  • Program B: a four-year structured Apprentice Program for serious students, and
  • Program C: a Professional Program program for professionals and advanced students that is completely flexible and lets you build your own custom learning path.

As a member of the Virtual Art Academy you can switch from one program to another at any time to suit your own particular needs. The program is completely flexible.

Program A: The Virtual Art Academy®
Art Appreciation Program

For art lovers with limited time

For those of you who are interested in painting but have limited time to paint. Each month you will systematically build up a personal library of 58 integrated eBooks that cover everything you ever want to know about painting. Analyse master paintings of the past to discover exactly what makes them work, and increase your appreciation and enjoyment of great artworks.
Read More

Program C: The Virtual Art Academy®
Professional Program

For intermediate and advanced painters

Designed for more experienced artists and professionals, this program is structured to give you complete flexibility in your learning program. Strengthen your foundation in those areas in which you are weakest and take your paintings to a new and higher level. A key element of this program is a study of historical master works so you can learn what makes their paintings great and apply that knowledge to your own work.
Read More

Going Faster in the Program

Did you know you can easily get access to more lessons in the program at any time?

You can add a new workshops of 12 new lessons to your account for only $60 ($5 per lesson), by simply going to My Account – My Workshops on the Online Campus.

Get instant access to 12 more lessons




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