VIDEO:Developing those "Detail Brush" Skills

Developing those “Detail Brush” Skills

I’m adding this short video to see to some inquiries regarding how to building skill with “detail” brushes. One option I recommend is to try and tackle a scaled down version of our LoP Gradation blocks. Not hard enough?—then sand the area super smooth and don’t mask off the square. (Now there’s a challenge!)

Give it a try…

Here’s some useful links related to this post:

Deliberate Practice:

Deliberate Practice:

Visual Language Core:


Great advice and demo Tony!


Very useful video. Thanks a lot.

I think one of the problems someone like myself had, with the LOP programme, is that when you’ve already been doing art for 12 years or so, it can appear as if the LOP exercises are too basic (even if that’s not really true) or that you’re just too old to re-wire yourself and re-learn.

Sometimes I find it almost impossible to derive inspiration to do DP exercises if it’s not clear to me what the benefit will be on my artwork. Conversely, if I can clearly perceive what the benefit is, there’s no amount of DP exercises I can’t plough through.

Anyway, this strategy of doing all the exercises small, really motivates me to go back and start repeating exercises. Because it drives to the heart of one of the core issues I want to improve on, which is control of the paint at a micro level.

1 Like

Awesome Thomas! And you bring up a VERY good point. It is sometimes very difficult to find the motivation to plow through DP exercises if you do not fully grasp the benefit. Unfortunately–the science behind demonstrable skill development can be very counterintuitive. For example—many concerned with increasing their speed/efficiency don’t realize that going SLOWER is often far more effective in automatizing low-level operations for a complex activity–thus greatly increasing the efficiency of the performance.

But hey—this is why I’m here. If I can help you to understand any part of this just let me know. You know how much I love talking shop (and blabbing on about science. LOL!)


I am so glad to see this again in small areas since that’s what I am working on. It reminds me to also slow down and enjoy the process!:+1:


If I can chime in here…with regards to years behind you and your age, I had 30 years of painting already behind me when I started LoP program 5 years ago, and I was 61 years old. Yes, I realized it was going to put a lot of resolve in my efforts to retrain my skills and at times it WAS frustrating. But I have persevered and finished all the exercises now and I am currently working on my capstone projects.

My work has exceeded my own expectations because of this program. I wanted it more badly than food (almost!)(LOL!) because my natural instinct bends towards this slower, progressive style. But I’ve had nothing but compliments and admiration from other artists who understand high realism. So I would encourage you to forge onward with it if this is something you enjoy.


Haha, I always think of you as a scientist who’s been reincarnated as an artist!

Hi Beverly, I’ve seen your works on Facebook and they are very realistic.

But did you never find that, when it came to doing the capstone projects for example, or indeed any work of art, that it was like every skill you developed in the programme just went out the window, and you reverted to old habits?

My feeling was that, once I was involved in the nitty gritty of making a portrait work, that I just had to forget about what I had learned in order to ‘concentrate’ on getting the artwork right.

I mean I started out trying to think of the painting in pure LOP terms; but eventually, once I got bogged down I just reverted to type.

Sounds stupid right, but it’s a bit like a game of football. Where before hand you discuss tactics and practice tactics etc, but then, when the game kicks off, they all go out of the window because you’re so stressed and have to focus just on keeping yourself alive in the game.

Hi Thomas! I don’t know how far you have gone in the program so I will address what I discovered through my own experience having come from many years of painting in a representional way, and now working in high realism.

Yes, there was a struggle inside me that wanted to ‘go back’ and do things the way I used to because the effort it was taking to do the brushwork as we were taught in LoP was not yet automatic. I really wanted to chuck it all in and let loose! But as I stayed with doing painting the LoP style, the brushwork did become more automatic and I was able to not have that inner struggle become an obstacle to my work. I can honestly say that now that I have completed all the exercises, the automaticity is not an issue at all.

Now, the other thing that needs to be known is that just because I have learned a particular way of approaching my painting through LoP does NOT mean I will never use texture, imprimatura, and work alla prima ever again. In fact, Anthony encourages us to find ‘our own voice’ and to make it all work for us as individuals. So right now I am doing one piece totally as we were taught in LoP, BUT I will be challenging myself with more texture and alla prima approaches in the next subjects which I have already planned.

So I would say, let it go out the window sometimes, and then push yourself back into not doing that and just work the program as it has been set out. Do other paintings also, as you want to! There’s no reason why not to. Pace yourself and take it easy. I experienced many episodes of wanting to throw it all in, stalling, feeling like I was going backwards, feelings of finding it tough to tow the whole program, however I knew what was at the end of the program by what I had seen from others who had completed the LoP and I wanted ‘THAT!’ And it was HARD doing it from a distance and developing the self-discipline to keep going on through the program by myself. (I live in Canada.) But Anthony and others were there for me all the way through. This was so important to me for that mentorship aspect to be present.

The other thing is that I have been teaching painting for many years, (and I continue to teach) and I did NOT teach this high realism style. Why? People wanted the results but were not prepared to put in the work and time to get there. That’s not a judgement, but it has been my experience with people coming to me to help them do this style and then not getting past the first three weeks. So I continue to teach representational or realism painting styles which are faster to complete for them. I want my students to enjoy painting, and I feel it is part of my job to help them explore what that might be and then to support and aid their process in whatever works for them.

I hope this helps.:blush:


Thanks Beverly, yes that’s really helpful.

I pretty much did all the LOP exercises with the exception of the cumulative exercises where you had to draw say a load of cones at different angles.

I intend to go back to them, but at the time I was running out of time and enthusiasm, and I figured it would be best to leave things for a rainy day and come back to them with fresh enthusiasm and energy.

I did most of the course back in October to December of last year. At some point in the next 12 months I will go back and revise and complete it. But personally it was sort of too much for me to get through in one go without feeling I was rushing it.

That was a surprise because I estimated I would only need about 8 weeks to get through it, but for some reason I rather dragged through the exercises.