Evolve Art Education: very similar appraoch to Waichulis Curriculum

https://staging.evolveartist.com/ i would like to know what you guys think about this project.

https://evolveartist.easywebinar.live/replay-14 very interesting webinar by the author of the curriculum.


I got a positive impression of the Evolve program, and considered it when researching foundational art curricula. The other program that I considered was Tim Rees’ Classical Drawing and Painting Program.

I concluded that the Waichulis Curriculum was the best option for me in terms of laying a solid skills foundation. I might end up working through Tim’s program too, when it comes time to focus on anatomy and figurative art.

Yeah same for me, i think waichuliss offer the absolute foundation.

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I’ve had a nose around and here’s my take on it:-

  • Looks cool, though it is very expensive ($2000) plus postage and import tax.

  • It doesn’t seem to offer anything vastly different than a good number of other online ateliers. Moreover you could actually get regular private (online) one to one tuition with a number of artists for a lot less money than this.

  • The whole mentor on tap and virtual structure of it might be useful to you if you have the schedule and focus to treat it like you are at a physical college, this is a great feature. But I would be concerned whether the time difference between your location and theirs might make this difficult, apart from any other commitments you may have.

  • I could be wrong but it looks to me very much like you are learning one process/method with evolve rather than a more rounded fine tuning of techniques to which you can apply your own style.

  • Kevin Murphy (the evolve program founder) is featured on a couple of podcasts:- the art side of life and pencil kings. You could check those out and see what kind of impression you get from and whether his approach appeals to you.

Personally I would then weigh that against…

  • LoD is $150 and LoP is $200:- so $350 all in (plus postage and import tax).

  • You’ll have to buy your own pencils and paints with this course, but you might very well already have some, or prefer choosing your own materials for that matter.

  • This comprises both drawing and painting components, one being a logical extension of the other. There are also far more levels of analysis per stage of advancement within each course, each containing increasing complexity throughout. This procedural improvement really makes sense and appeals to me, which is certainly the reason I’m here.

  • This sort of isolated distance learning is far more self driven, so you will have to be very disciplined, honest with yourself and prepared to work hard, no one is going to be chasing deadlines or catching you cutting corners. But you can get help whenever you need on this very forum, often from the main man himself.

  • Anthony Waichulis is on the suggested donation podcast where he gives a pretty good overview of the curriculum. So you can give that a listen and see if your own vision will benefit from his meticulous, no stone unturned approach.


in fact i posted this because i think other people are starting to be inspired by Waichulis work, he started his idea in 1998, so i think his method is spreading around, maybe in 5 years more curriculum driven eduction will emerge.

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Evolve student here. WARNING, I have been all over the shop trying to write this, restructuring left, right and centre so may not be very comprehensible.

I will lay this out in a few sections, first being a quick description of the course, followed by my views on it, both likes and dislike. I have woven answers to Martin’s questions into the first (or maybe both :grin:) sections.


  1. Material: All course material with the exception of a light box is supplied. There are multiple reasons such as you may be having trouble that’s due to the tools you chose rather than the technique, so by giving everyone the same tools that issue is removed. Kevin obviously has tried lots of materials over the years and what is supplied is what works for him and he considers to be the very best available. This is subjective I know.
  2. Homework: Submitted after each painting — done through the web — and feedback given relevant to where you are in the course. All paintings are released one at a time so you can’t jump ahead, your painting needs to have been reviewed and a critique given. As long as you grasp the basic concepts and show that you are putting in effort they appear to advance you. You are not competing with anyone other than yourself and they progress and give advice accordingly.
  3. Homework room: They have an account on Whereby (like Zoom) that you can go into for free where students hang out, helping each other, talking ■■■■, silently sitting there painting or all of the above at once :joy:. There are some set events timetabled but some students such as myself just jump in whenever they are painting. Unfortunately it’s mostly the same students each time. I know it took a lot of guts for me to step in the first couple of times and almost didn’t, so i’m sure there are others the same. There are some groups at set times that you can go in and meet and they seem to be scattered around the world so hopefully there is one at a time that suits you.
  4. Theory: There is none, you learn by doing. You will realise much later on (for me anyway) that your creating the theory as you go in the back of your mind, in the sense that you look back and you can understand what and why you were learning at the time.
  5. Cost: It is done in blocks and I believe that $2000 gets you 4 of 8 blocks. This is not a subscription, you can take as long as you like to do the block. I’m currently in block 6 of 8 and have been doing it on and off for 3 years. Your right it’s expensive, but when you compare to what? I have spent tens of thousands of hours trying to teach myself things over the years because I didn’t know what I wanted and I was too much a tight ass, thinking I can do it better myself… were would I be now if I realised back then how wrong I was. Don’t get me wrong, for some people it works perfect, just not me. I walked out of school after having done art for the HSC knowing nothing other than a tiny bit of useles (to me) theory of art history and believe if I had gone to university to study art, would have walked out without much more… this course to me is worth so much more than a $60,000 uni course… you just don’t get to put it on your resume. As for comparing it to courses similar to Anthony’s, don’t look so much at the price, look at the learning style involved, figure out how you learn and then go with the one that compliments it. I have never tried any other Ateliers so I can’t compare.
  6. Mentors: You have access to Kevin (founder), Piper (head instructor) or other instructions if you ever have questions. You can book a video chat with any of them if you need to discuss something face to face. I have never done this but probably should have…that comes down to my personality nothing more. This may change in the future as they grow but for now it’s an amazing option (if I had the ■■■■■). Kevin will occasionally drop in to the homework room for a chat and you can ocassionally pick his brain though these occurences are getting less and less over time. Can times make it difficult… yes and no. I am in Australia so am out by around 12 hours. With homework it made things a little difficult because I had to wait for my work to be graded overnight so couldn’t do more than one painting at a time whilst students in the US could submit and have some results back quick enough to do 1 or 2 more. Otherwise, most things are handled online in written word so the delay isn’t that much of a problem. If you want to do a face to face then finding a time suitable to both parties might be more of a challenge.
  7. Process/Method: They stack the knowledge from one block onto the next.
    Blocks 1 and 2 has you learning value and edge.
    Block 3 your doing the same with colour.
    Block 4 they introduce a new but similar technique (direct painting) and dial the complexity way up… I had issues here but I will discuss that later.
    Block 5 they call vacant shadows. You are painting on a dark linen and only paint the lights.
    Block 6 Kevin calls speed painting. Two seperate opaque layers followed by glazing and your extreme highlights and shadows (with a alkyd sealing layer in between).
    Block 7 is call puddling, which i’m guessing is impasto? I’m not up to this yet so can’t describe it.
    Block 8 you bring it all together copying master works using whatever combination of techniques you want.

My Thoughts:
Disclaimer: The following are my personal oppinions only and my interpretation of the course.

I’ve been doing the Evolve course on and off since it launched about 3 years ago. I actually feel guilty coming into this forum while doing someone else’s course and probably need to be careful mentioning it here as Anthony is likely to swoop in and boot me out :joy:.

Different courses suit different ways of thinking, so the perfect course for one person may be the absolute wrong course for someone else. As for me, it was the perfect course at the right time. I spent most of my life believing you either had natural talent at something or not, and I only had a tiny smidgen in artistic related stuff and not really anything else. Although I also never really tried, I would continually over the years try different pursuits (3d, video editing, drawing, watercolour, programming) and usually after a short time things would suddenly seem impossible and I would give up until the next time I tried something. Seeing what 10-12 years old could produce without ‘talent’ kind of rocked my understanding of the world and I had to give it a try. Seeing my progression from painting to painting, whilst slow, showed that I could do this.

I never knew of Anthony’s course before starting Evolve but if I had I feel it would have had the opposite effect (for me) as I believe I would have run very quickly into that same wall and given up. The key for me with Evolve is that you submit each painting and cannot progress till you do as each part is locked until the instructor has reviewed your work and then releases the next one.

The course isn’t aimed at making sure you get each one perfect, as it is aimed at just improving to start. Show you understand the basic techniques and that your putting in the effort and you will be moved along. I haven’t heard of many people having to redo paintings but it does happen and I got the impression it was from people just slapping down paint a not really putting any effort in or not quite grasping the new concepts. I only ever had one painting I had to resubmit as it was the second in a block (speed painting) and I tried jumping way too far ahead technically, way too quickly.

It might not seem like your really learning a lot at the start but when you think about it you don’t really need to; learning about edges, value and chroma (my words not theirs) really is the basis to all painting and you can figure out the rest later. You are working from both photos and your own still life’s (most blocks are 1 for 1) and as I progressed I started reaching for more interesting still life’s thus at least getting an understanding of what works and what doesn’t composition wise. Could I have read a few books and pick up more instead… sure, but it would have bored me to tears and I would rather learn something slowly whilst doing something I enjoy rather than instead of it.

I don’t believe this course is aimed at people trying to learn art for a living, not directly anyway. Can you take this and become a professional… absolutely. It’s like anything, you get good by doing not by thinking about doing. The course isn’t built around learning theory, you learn a few key techniques (if you call them that) the start painting slowly improving, then they tack on a tiny bit more, rinse and repeat. I believe a lot of the understanding happens slowly over time in the background rather than being forced fed it and expecting to just understand whats going on. I’m not sure how well the course would sit with people coming in expecting to be bombarded with with all this theory (that they probably aren’t ready for), which makes the course appear more like its for someone just wanting to learn for the sake of it. Which made it perfect for me.

Paint is Old Holland and I see why he loves it, although I haven’t tried anything else yet. I would have considered never painting with anything except for the price in Australia, with Old Holland (and Michael Harding) being approx 3x price of Langridge and M Graham, so I have plans to try those two and see if they are close enough. If not I will stay with Old Holland, but it sure would be nice to save that money, at least at the moment anyway.

I do have some gripes about some areas being kept too simple. Kevin teaches you based on what he taught himself and figured out over the last 30 years, but things like colour mixing caused me serious issues. A lot of that was my fault as I am a rule follower so once I was told too start randomly mixing colours together to learn, I pretty much threw out 18 years of colour kowledge from the printing industry. I have an extremely poor memory so I would finally mix a colour close enough and then never be able to do it again because I was getting there by randomly mixing colours. The stress of this over a couple of blocks was quite horrendous and I think it would be better if they understood that some people learn completely differently and offered alternatives. The problem is they are human and humans have an uncanning ability to know that their way is ‘the way’ :grin:. Once I gave up on the random memory thing and ‘stepped outside the rules’ and started mixing colour from a logical perspective, things started too fall into place. I realise that most of this issue comes down to my psychology, but there are others having issues, just not to the crippling extent I did. For me everything fell into place when I stumbled on the Munsell system. I don’t use the system perse, just the hue, value, chroma model. Another artist didn’t have it fall into place until he found Mark Carter’s site. Each to there own, in the end it’s whatever works for you.

I need to stop here as I can no longer hold more than a fraction of this in memory s am getting lost (cognitive issues due to illness). If it needs a rework (repeats, parts missing) or you have any questions, feel free to let me know.

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I actually feel guilty coming into this forum while doing someone else’s course and probably need to be careful mentioning it here as Anthony is likely to swoop in and boot me out :joy:.

Haha, I’m sure Anthony would be super pleased to see any personal pursuit of art education, in fact I’ve seen him get kicked out of an art group or two on facebook more or less for encouraging further research and open-mindedness! :joy:

I hope I didn’t come across like I was criticising the evolve course - I have not intended to. My main problems are time and money (ain’t it always the way) so that always has to be a top consideration, and it has to be as efficient as possible.

There’s a great amount of insider info there Craig, very helpful - It’s super you’re doing the evolve course and taking a good deal from it by the sounds, learn everything from everywhere!

I didn’t read any criticism in your post, although from your answering I’m wondering… did I come across defensive as that wasn’t my intention.

I purchased the course when they first launched so got a massive discount. Glad I did as health costs have been increasing since and there is no way I could afford it now, so yes I understand your reasoning. That just makes it a bit trickier, finding good correct knowledge that fits your way of thinking at a price you can afford.

I’d be happy to try and distill some of what I have learnt, though it might be no different that what everyone knows, but more to the point I have no idea how to do that without plagiarising and I don’t believe that would be fair on them… no idea how to resolve that.

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One thing you can do is check out who is doing Patreon tutorials, join for a month (it’s usually around £10) and try to get out as much of the content there as possible, you can always stay subscribed or resubscribe in future if you’ve the time and feel it’s worth your while. I get a lot out of Scott Waddell’s stuff, and he had a Bouguereau study from a while a go I made some notes and screenshots on which I’m just getting around to having a go at now. Stephen Bauman and Cornelia Hernes do a lot of academic atelier style stuff on there. Michael James Smith, Susan Lyon, and many others are worth a look too, you can extract a good deal of info for the price of a few beers.

I’d be interested to hear any breakthrough moments or revelations you’ve had through evolve which have helped your progress, although of course don’t get in any trouble by reproducing any of their content here.

Just want to share this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxRN9tcN6pQ&t=7082s one of best lectures/tutorials I have ever seen it helped me to break some old habits and plateaus, since then I recommend it to all my students. Problem is its quite dense and you need to approach it as a lecture, make notes, do some reading and research come back again etc…

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Thanks Zoran, will certainly give that a watch and have an notebook handy!

Thanks Martin & Zoran, now I just need to find the time to do all that :grin:. I got an email from your post, so it’s sitting in my inbox marked unread, I just need to make sure it doesn’t get buried before I get to it.

Breakthrough moments… hmmm, like anything you put enough time into, they happen eventually. Don’t think they are course specific at all, it just allowed me to slowly improve without realising it too much (as mentioned earlier). I would say that the key one for me was figuring out colour mixing based on the Munsell system rather than randomly mixing colour. Values are a real issue but now colour is reasonably under control, I have become aware of how bad they are. Actually, probably the biggest thing we learnt was lighting objects with a single small light source to see cast vs form shadows. It was not something I had ever been made aware of or thought about, so I would say it was probably one of the biggest things I got out of the course.

I’m a little amazed at how some people love one technique and hate another whilst visa versa for others. I probably should have expected that… but I didn’t.

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