Brainstorm School Summer ’23 Week 4 and Evolve Week 1

Week of June 5, 2023

4 min readJun 12, 2023


I haven’t posted in a while, and it’s not from lack of time. It’s because I haven’t been doing any art. I got divorced at the end of March and for the last couple months I had to spend a lot of time selling my house and moving to a different state. I didn’t have any motivation to do art, and skipped the first 4 weeks of my classes at Brainstorm. This week I finally got back into the homework, but I also decided to go a different direction with art, at least for now.

I signed up for the Evolve Artist art school. It goes from the very basic foundations up to professional realism in traditional oil paint, with about 60 paintings total. Here is the first and last assignment.

It supposedly takes about 350 hours to go from the first painting to the second, with about 60 paintings in between. I’ve always been interested in oil painting, but in the past I was trying to get an art job as quickly as possible, which is what drew me to concept art. For reasons I can’t explain, I don’t care about getting a job as much anymore. The divorce has changed me somehow but I can’t put my finger on it yet. All I know is that right now I’m very motivated to learn oil painting, so that’s what I’m going to do.

I was drawn to this specific program because the instructor, Kevin Murphy, has a very thorough, clear, and concrete way of teaching the fundamentals. Here’s an example of his teaching method. Every assignment adds just one bit of extra complexity so that you’re only learning one new thing at a time, while continuously practicing what you already know. If I work on the paintings every day (which is my plan) I should probably be able to finish the program in about 3 months. After that they also have an advanced program that covers another 350 hours.

Another thing that drew me to Evolve was that you get all the supplies as part of tuition. They shipped me a box of paint (Old Holland, no less), brushes, canvases, etc. I like that they don’t use any solvents or paints with heavy metals (cadmium, colbalt, etc.), so I feel safe painting without gloves or ventilation.

I’m not abandoning concept art completely, but I’m probably going to focus more on traditional realism for a while. I think I have some large educational holes when it comes to painting, and Evolve should help fill those. After I finish Evolve, my imaginative work should be even better.




Portfolio project.

I’ll be working on this project for the next 5 weeks with the goal of getting six portfolio pieces.


Block 1 Part 1

I thought I would do much better on this, but it was deceptively difficult to get really straight lines. The texture of the canvas was like little squares, and trying to paint in the exactly correct squares was like trying to fill tiny pixels. I had to get really close and almost strain my eyes, and I still didn’t get the edges straight. I had a lot of fun though. It was very relaxing to push paint around. It was also nice to be back at an easel. I’ve been drawing exclusively digitally for about a year and a half now.

I love how Evolve emphasizes correctness, patience, and focus. I feel like I’m always rushing to get the Brainstorm homework assignments done and I never have enough time to spend on anything. That seems like what the concept art industry is in general: work as fast as possible because the art director needed everything yesterday. With Evolve, the mantra is “take your time.” A painting takes how long it takes. The program is completely self-paced, and stresses craftsmanship and correctness above all else. Under no circumstances are we ever to leave a mistake in a painting that we know is not correct. We fix everything to the best of our ability. That’s the mentality I want to have with art, but I never got the chance to practice it with concept art.