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For sometime now, I have been wanting to expand my brick and mortar classes to be available on-line. On and off for twenty years plus, I have been teaching a weekly course of what I call Sophisticated Fundamentals. I believe that they are valuable tools for the newer artist to the more developed artist.  I teach in a cumulative, layered fashion adding "skins of the onion" one onto the next, building an overall package of significant and detailed information for the traditional artist.  

These tools are applicable for artists working in any media.  


"Sophisticated Fundamentals" is about the nuts and bolts of value in design, value in rendering form, significant drawing and color from a "scientist of light" perspective. I provide numerous tools offered in each of these phases of class. They are offered in individual "thumbnail" lessons available separately or in packages.   In the physical classroom my students range significantly in experience and or starting skill levels. It does not matter where you are in your personal growth as an artist, my promise is that I will give you the tools necessary to go up a minimum of a few steps from where you begin with me.


We focus on value and drawing for a long time, especially value.. This, from 20+ years of teaching has been clearly where students have more need and have not been offered the kinds of tools and "perspective" that I offer. Color is also done on a fundamental level but, like value and drawing,  can be taken to very highly sophisticated level and very exciting and fun if you just give it the effort.


Studies in the following areas are offered in a cumulative approach, adding layer upon layer, building on the one before it.  In the on-line version, I will call each layer a "thumbnail"  offering them in an order which I recommend to build the layers appropriately, just as in my studio classes here in the Cincinnati area. Students typically studied from 16 months to 24 months of once a week classes until I had given them all that I have to offer in the curriculum. I am building this on-line version to provide the exact same overall course, except on-line.



-Balance, design and planning of value in composition

- puzzle pieces of value, abstract approach in start of traditional painting

-families of value, limiting and controlling value

-hard and soft edges, contrast and or lack of contrast

….to name a few

Finally, we will make paintings in colorful monochrome rendering utilizing newly gained knowledge of hard and soft edges, -contrast/lack of contrast and asymmetrical balancing (akin to good dynamics in music).  This will put all the layers of the onion together at one time.  some may focus on combining and emphasizing a few layers, for instance focus on hard and soft edges,  a key too successful compositions.


We will make a graphite portrait drawing emphasizing measuring techniques, flat shadow, form in the light, egg effect, etc.   Plaster cast drawing will also be an option using vine charcoal, with specific tools and disciplines of high level draftsmanship and rendering of shading



-value in color, color temperature, chroma 

-balance and design in compositions with color, influencing with color instead of solid application of color

….to name a few


I consider myself a scientist of light on some levels. so the study of color from my perspective is about observing nature, one's light source  and learning how that particular  light affects that     particular form.   we will make some color charts that give you the new vocabulary and a higher sensitivity and level of understanding about temperature, chroma, etc.   From those basic yet sophisticated color relationships we will make some designs that are effective and based in balances that exist in nature and capture our attention and wonder. I want you to be able to make aesthetically pleasing color dynamics and have natural, believable color rendering on your forms.


Later in the process, I will demonstrate and ask you to paint studio works of your favorite subjects using the "Thumbnail tools" of these new areas of knowledge in both categories.  I will only "unlock" the advanced "putting all the layers together" tool offerings once you have completed the more fundamental tools that lead up to that point. From my 20 plus years of experience, It is only once my students have done the preliminary fundamental exercises, will they have the necessary "vocabulary" to understand clearly the goals, destination and paths to greater painting.

My commitment is to offer a disciplined approach of passionate shared knowledge giving new valuable art tools in exchange for which I ask for a degree of trust and letting go of what artists tend to cling on to in terms of "how I've always done it" . I ask that you humor me and try what I offer and you will see in results the answers to your own questions but only if you try, in earnest, the step by step tools that I provide.


Lastly, very importantly I remind my students that in learning these new tools, the student's focus should be on PROCESS NOT PRODUCT.   Students many times are concerned about the destination,but the learning is in the journey. The product will be there, and much much better if you focus on the tools that I will be teaching to you.                


Please take a look at the introduction videos below where I introduce myself and you'll hear a bit more of my story and thoughts on teaching. You can find detailed information on this website about my past exhibitions, gallery affiliations and professional organization memberships


Thanks so much,

David Mueller

Introductory videos

David Mueller his own words

David Mueller his own words

Play Video
Introducing Sophisticated Fundamentals

Introducing Sophisticated Fundamentals

Play Video

available now

1 1/2 hours of in-depth introduction, vocabulary and tools as foundation for the series of additional offerings to come. Informative and full of significant "nuggets" for your artist toolbox.

(View the free introductory videos then click below to get started. You'll create a very simple account and password. once paid you'll have on-line access to the video at any time now and in the future.)

Contact us if interested in on-line lessons,
we will notify you when additional
new lessons are available

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