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Review: Morgan Weistling’s Video/DVD

The Image of ChristMaybe you’ve read this book by Morgan Weistling… or if you’re like me, you just look at the pictures. This book is an inexpensive visual treat to anyone wishing to study the style, composition and color schemes of an artist to whom many refer as a modern-day master.

Yes, he’s a personal friend of mine, but he’s also a contemporary and a competitor, if you will. In addition to our dead heroes we all have our living favorites. Morgan is mine. To my great delight, when I went to his website a month or two ago (I visit fairly often, since he’s so prolific), he was announcing his new 10-hour instruction DVD titled Advanced Fundamentals for the Beginning Expert.

Knowing Morgan as I do, I just knew he had strong input on this humorous title. He never takes himself too seriously, and I thought at first that he was just poking fun at all the pompous titles in the art world. But I was wrong. Having viewed the DVD set several times, I can tell you that however humorous or oxymoronic the title may sound, it is as apt a title as can be. The recurring theme

My friendship with
Morgan has no
bearing on my
opinion of
this DVD

throughout this detailed instructional walk-through is basics. And don’t let that fool you into thinking this is for beginners, this is for serious painters, intermediates and professionals alike.

The video is all about one painting, Homework [Picture], which is created, start-to-finish, before your eyes. Now, to the non-artist, watching a painting being created one brushstroke at a time may be just one step “funner” than watching paint dry. But to someone who is interested in seeing the process demystified, this DVD is golden. In fact, I can tell you from experience, it’s worth just listening to.

As a teacher myself, I am pleased to tell you that Morgan preaches the absolute most important fundamental of all great painting: drawing. And he explains it so well, as he does values, edges and color.

Mercifully, the video editors do some time-lapse dissolves in some of the background painting passages, allowing for the fact that things like lay-ins and larger block-ins are really going to be of little interest or use to anyone, and instead use the redeemed video time for several “side trips”—so-called Bonus Material, though they are integrated into the regular running time of the video and do not need to be accessed via a special menu—in which Morgan expands his descriptions of certain fundamentals.

A most worthy book to any serious artist’s library is Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting, which can be purchased at Schmid’s site.

Morgan’s video not only covers so much of what Schmid talks about in his book, but includes—and brings to life—the most glaring omissions from Schmid’s book: examples. Everything Morgan discusses, he practices in front of your eyes. No flipping through pages to see if there is an example of what he’s talking about. It’s all there!

The video is also entertaining. Morgan has a dry, whimsical sense of humor—the kind that checks to see if you’re listening. He’s told me personally that the editors removed a substantial amount of his antics—items he hopes to include as a gag-reel disc someday. But what’s left will still make you laugh. Unless you don’t like his sense of humor. Or his art. And in both cases, there’s no accounting for taste.

At $195, this may be the most expensive DVD set you own. But at $195, it’ll likely be the cheapest one-on-one instruction you will ever have—and with a master at that! And you’ll always have it to return to, for free!

The video is sharp, and close-up when needed. There’s a camera angle on his painting and another on his palette, and all the video was shot with attention to color balance and good lighting—though, inexplicably one of the three cameras seems a little hot or blown-out in the highlights (fortunately it is the least-used angle). There is a cut to the palette each time Morgan mixes a new brushload. For me, this is a refreshing additon to educational painting videos. My only complaints about this palette-cam are that 1). Morgan is too fast with his color, playing the paint blobs like a skilled xylophonist, dazzling in his magical speed. And 2). [a nit-picky detail from someone who’s done video editing] it seems the editor used the “brush leaving the canvas” as the cue for a cut-to-palette, which, in a few frames-per-second way, is a little too soon for an artist such as myself, who wants to see for a moment just how that last stroke added to the overall work.

I give the teaching 5 out of 5 stars, and the video quality 4 out of 5.

A must-have for any representational painter.


  1. wow thanks for sharing that. Really magnificient paintings by your friend. So inspiring. Do I buy the DVD’s or go straight to just buying paints and starting trying to paint myself? hehe Ive heard such great things about that Alla Prima book as well. Im sure you probably know who Ron Leman is? In that area, I would think you would. Anyway’s I know he has mentioned that book a number of times. SO many items, so few $$…

  2. Hi !
    Is it your the illustration on the cover of the classic game “Dungeon Master” 1987?

  3. Patrick, yes it is! I never got famous for it, but I appreciate that someone remembers the name!

    Nice of you to write.


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