Painting Lessons with Nolan Clark

So, where do you go these days online for free painting lessons.  One of my favorite sites is run by Nolan Clark.  I've been following Nolan Clark for a while now, and have been a participant in his forum "Paint Basket" too.    He has expanded that forum into a wonderful new members only website that is full of free tutorials and teaching aids. 

That's right, FREE Painting Lessons.  (click on any image, and you will be sent to that specific free painting lesson! Each image is a real free oil painting video lesson.)

Once you see the quality of instruction, you'll want to join!  If only for the feedback of other artists! You simply upload your painting and get some valuable advice on how to improve your work.

I've had a chance to catch up with Nolan to find out a little bit more about him, his art, and the "Paint Basket" website, now called ""

Read below to find out more about this New Zealand Artist and his wonderful approach to creating works of art and opening the doors for so many with his free painting lessons.

Where are you from?

I grew up in a small city just outside Johannesburg in South Africa. In 2008 I emigrated to New Zealand and am now happily living the Kiwi island lifestyle :)

How long have you been an artist?

In 1996 I accidentally discovered that I could draw. That sparked a passion for anything art so I started painting in oils soon after that. In 2000 I converted my garage into a teaching studio, taking my art full time. I haven't looked back since.

What is your favorite subject matter and why?

Although I am now happy to work in most subjects, my favourite subject has to be still life paintings. When I first started out I felt that painting still lifes was easier than say landscapes as still life subjects tend to have a lot of shading work as opposed to texture work. I was thus able to master painting them quicker than other subjects. I think painting still life scenes and especially flowers is my happy place where I feel most comfortable and confident.

Why do you enjoy working realistically?

I find that to work realistically takes a lot of practice and fine tuning of your skills. You need to have mastered colour mixing, shading, painting textures as well as more subtle skills like spotting and rendering hard and soft edges. Realising how light affects the objects in your scene and especially how it affects the shadows in the scene. I have found that the more I practice painting realistically the more I notice subtle differences and changes in the scene I am painting, this in turn allows me to add them to the artwork, creating a more realistic painting. Can you see what happens? The more you work realistically, the better your observation skills become which in turn improve your painting skills, creating a snow ball effect. These skills can then be used to great effect when painting in other styles as well.

Free Painting Lessons, click an image to see it.

What is your favorite painting medium and why?

I work in many different mediums. I draw in pencil, paint in oil and acrylic as well as lesser know mediums like scratchboarding. Which medium is my favourite tends to change every now and again. I love the super fine detail I can get with pencil drawing. I love how acrylics dry quickly so I can quick add multiple layers to the artwork. I also like that oil paint dries so slowly, leaving me more time to blend. I think my preferred medium changes every now and again because I get bored easily so flipping between the mediums help to keep my brain stimulated. Isn't that why we become artists? Every artwork is a challenge and we are never satisfied with the result. I think it is just our personality type that keeps us wanting something new and something better all the time.

What do you like best about working in your chosen medium?

If I was stuck on a deserted island and had to choose one medium only, then I would choose oil painting. It is the most forgiving of all the mediums I have tried and perfect for a beginner to start in. You can take your time to get your shadings correct, you can add as many layers as you like on top of the previous which makes it fantastic for fixing any mistakes you spot after the fact. The paint has a natural body which allows you to build up beautiful textural height off the canvas. This body also allows you to see individual brush strokes on the canvas even after the painting has dried. I suspect it is these visible brush strokes that make oil paintings popular with the buyers as well.

What are the difficulties or pitfalls (if any) of working with your chosen medium?

There are two big stumbling blocks that an artist new to oil painting needs to be aware of. The first is a principle called fat over lean. I find that many artists are confused by this concept yet it is actually quite simple. When you are painting one layer of paint over another, gradually add more medium / oil to subsequent layers. Each layer gets a bit more medium / oil in it. The reason we do this is because the bottom layers dry slower that the top layers. As the layers dry they expand and contract as the temperature varies during the day. The extra oil in the upper layers makes them more elastic so that they don't crack as the lower layers continue to expand and contract.

The next pitfall that the new oil painter must be cognizant of is the slow drying time. Although it is your friend when you need time to do intricate shading and detail work. It can also work against you if you are not patient. Trying to work one layer of painting over another can cause the two paint layers to blend into each other, often resulting in the muddy colours you hear artists complaining about. The previous layer must either be dry or you must add extra medium to it and use a soft touch so they two layers don't blend into each other.

You have a wonderful website that teaches art, tell us about it!

Thank you for the compliment. You have a fabulous website yourself :)

We (my Father and I) have a set up an online learning resources for artists of all abilities which they can use to hone and grow their skill set. We believe that the best way to learn is by first under standing what you are doing, then seing it demonstrated to you, then you actually doing it yourself. That way by the time you put brush to canvas your brain is processing the information for the third time. Making it easier to remember and master.


Each of our roughly 500 online art classes are then step by step classes which you paint or draw along in real time. We explain the theory of what we are doing, show you how to do it then you follow along yourself. This way our students are getting incredible results in very short time frames.

We operate on the same basis as Netflix where you join for a low monthly fee and then get access to all the classes for as long as you remain a member. There are then also comprehensive and in depth courses which unlock over time. So your membership becomes more and more valuable to you as you grow as an artist.

It really works well because the students can learn at a pace which suits their lifestyle. If they are new they can follow the classes in order, or if they prefer they can pick and choose which lessons they want to follow next. At the end of each lesson the student has a completed artwork which they can proudly hang on the wall.

For more info you can visit Online Art Lessons and see the free painting lessons I've mentioned here!

As part of the Click Bank affiliate program, a purchase from Nolan's site will allow me a small commission.  Full disclosure.  

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Care to see more of my work?  Click here to head over to my fine art site at