Figurative Painting in Oil

with Michael Carson

Filmed in Florence, this online workshop focuses on Michael Carson's unique approach to figurative oil painting, as he demonstrates his techniques to simplify the figure. He will look at the balance between representational art and instinctive design decisions which can transform an academic figure study, and carefully take you through his painting process, from start to finish. Gain exclusive insights into Michael Carson's artistic journey, discover the influences, techniques, and inspirations that shaped his career

  • 3 hours and 50 mins of instructional content

  • For artists, accessible to all

  • Life-time access with unlimited streaming

  • Audio: English

  • Reference photos to paint from

  • Downloadable handbook

  • Access to the Community

Design & Decision

What this course is about and what you will learn!

Learn how to incorporate design when creating figurative oil paintings. During this online course, Michael Carson will demonstrate his approach to figurative painting, from start to finish. He will show you the methods that he uses to simplify the painting process, whilst explaining his materials and technique in detail. This workshop is suitable for all levels, whether you are just starting out or looking to deepen your understanding of the subject. Paint along with Mike using his photo references, and enjoy life-time access to this course, which you will be able to rewatch at any time.

What's included?

Mike will begin by explaining his materials to you, as well as the unique limited palette he uses and has developed through his career as a painter. He will start his painting demonstration by showing you how he sketches out the figure onto his panel and draws using paint. Throughout the painting process, Mike will cover important topics, such as composition, values, and edges, and show you how these concepts come together to create a finished painting. Mike will then tell you a bit about himself and how he started out as a painter, and end the course by giving you some final advice. You will have access to the photo references Mike has taken and uses during this workshop so that you can paint along at home. You can share your progress in the Community Section, where you will also be able to connect with other like-minded creatives!

Workshop Overview

  1. 1
    • Introduction

  2. 2
    • Materials

  3. 3
    • The Under Drawing

  4. 4
    • The Under Painting

  5. 5
    • Adding Color to the Portrait & Figure

  6. 6
    • Painting the Fabric & Environment

  7. 7
    • Adding Detail to the Portrait

  8. 8
    • The Finishing Touches

  9. 9
    • Adding A Design Element

  10. 10
    • Looking After Your Brushes

  11. 11
    • Interview with Michael Carson

Michael Carson

Your instructor for this workshop

Michael Carson is a Minnesotan oil painter and sculptor, whose artwork can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the world. His aim is to use technique, mechanics, color and design to bring a fresh approach to the subject of the figure. "My work is first and foremost figurative studies. It's what I like to paint, my biggest challenge and my greatest payoff."
Michael Carosn

Listen to the voices of our students

All of these reviews are written by students who took this workshop

5 star rating

One of the Best Painting Classes I've taken!

Denise Barta Sagan

This class is very well constructed by Art Escape and very well taught by Michael Carson. The site is extremely user friendly and the class well structured. ...

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This class is very well constructed by Art Escape and very well taught by Michael Carson. The site is extremely user friendly and the class well structured. I especially like Michael's teaching at every step of the painting. I will say I was intensely interested in his process to begin with but unlike many courses Ive taken where I've fallen asleep watching the painting process, Michael's tips and comments kept me awake. This is the first class in which I am actually going to follow along and paint from the photos provided. I bought all the paints, brushes, the Gessobord and even the Scheveningen Purple Brown. Great background music too btw! BRAVO! Well done!

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5 star rating

100% recommended

David Cooke

Out of all the artists one inevitably comes to admire on Instagram (and, let’s face it, all in all, IG is a wonderful platform for artists), Mike’s work stan...

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Out of all the artists one inevitably comes to admire on Instagram (and, let’s face it, all in all, IG is a wonderful platform for artists), Mike’s work stands out to me and fits with my own style so I jumped at the opportunity to purchase this course. I’m certainly not new to oil painting but it was good to cover old ground, take the time, listen to Mike’s commentary (which is simple, solid and unflowery) and also learn some new tricks. It’s like doing a mastercopy with Mike holding your hand along the way. And, if you listen to the final chapter (11), Mike explains that growing as an artist is about selecting someone who you admire and copying their work until you develop your own style. One of the best bits for me was an introduction pigments I hadn’t used before. Wow, that Old Holland Sheveningen Purple Brown really blows your socks off! It might be expensive but it’s hard to beat the chroma and it lasts and lasts. So, yes, I’d definitely recommend this course. Spot on. p.s. – oh yeah, and I’d like to win the demo from the course, please!

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5 star rating

Informative, entertaining and practical help

Richard Scarr

I've found, previously, the downside of a lot of courses is that they focus on the wrong things or are a bit dry in presentation or skip the exact info I was...

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I've found, previously, the downside of a lot of courses is that they focus on the wrong things or are a bit dry in presentation or skip the exact info I was looking for. None of this can be said of this course. The presentation is professional and understated. The views of the canvas, palette and artist were perfect in giving a complete view of Michaels work flow and the breaks for each chapter felt very natural. It was also reassuring to see how to correct things when they go wrong. I'll definitely be referring back to this course for my own attempts. Oddly considering this is an art course I want to give a mention to the sound quality throughout. Michaels narration is an invaluable part of the course and both his voice and the music in the background are perfectly balanced.

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5 star rating

Awesome! I got more than I expected!

Agnese Kurzemniece

To be honest, I really wanted to participate in the "live" master class with Mr. Carson. But of course, the seats were sold out in a flash! I am really happy...

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To be honest, I really wanted to participate in the "live" master class with Mr. Carson. But of course, the seats were sold out in a flash! I am really happy for the opportunity to buy this online lesson. It is really high-quality and complete. Thank you!

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5 star rating

Wonderful course, highly recommended!

Lia Maros

I have been following Michael on IG for a while now and he is one of my absolutely favourite painters. I admire his technique and the atmosphere he is able t...

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I have been following Michael on IG for a while now and he is one of my absolutely favourite painters. I admire his technique and the atmosphere he is able to give to his paintings, so getting an opportunity to watch him work was something I could not miss. Throughout the course, Michael also offers a lot of great advise, which is actually useful for painting in any media. The video and sound are of great quality making it a delight to watch.

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5 star rating

So Inspired!

Thomas Byrnes

I have been a follower of Michael’s work for some time and to have him explain and take you through his process has made me an even bigger fan. The workshop ...

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I have been a follower of Michael’s work for some time and to have him explain and take you through his process has made me an even bigger fan. The workshop has inspired me and I can’t put down my brushes now! Cosi Bello!

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5 star rating

Great course

Adriana Toth

Great structured and well presented course. I have enjoyed all sections very much, would highly recommend. It was what I have expected, with a small excep...

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Great structured and well presented course. I have enjoyed all sections very much, would highly recommend. It was what I have expected, with a small exception: In the finishing details chapter, I was hoping to see the resin and pattern demonstration. The doll hand squeezing the black paint was such a good idea, it made me smile the whole day. Thank you!

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5 star rating

I'm a long-time admirer and I’d hoped to someday take his...

Brenda Robson

I really enjoyed this workshop! The steps are explained very clearly. I especially appreciated comments about how to balance a composition, and how to not na...

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I really enjoyed this workshop! The steps are explained very clearly. I especially appreciated comments about how to balance a composition, and how to not name shapes, and approach the earlier stages like a carving. The palette is unusual but quite simple. I ended up with a lovely painting and cannot wait to apply some of these principles and techniques to my own work. Thank you Michael!

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5 star rating

Top guide trough the very creative figurative approach

William Dal

The figurative painting course proposed by Michael is one of the best workshop I ever done. His creative approach to the figurative process is outstanding. ...

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The figurative painting course proposed by Michael is one of the best workshop I ever done. His creative approach to the figurative process is outstanding. Watch and listen such a talented artist has been inspiring! He kept no secrets, and he shared all his knowledge about oil painting, thank you for make this happen!

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5 star rating

what a gift !

Birgit Mierbeth

please don`t miss that workshop painting friends ! it`s a kingly gift !

please don`t miss that workshop painting friends ! it`s a kingly gift !

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5 star rating

Love it

Ervan Cunanan

So great to see Michael paint from start to finish. Such an amazing artist:)

So great to see Michael paint from start to finish. Such an amazing artist:)

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5 star rating

beginners treasure

Michal Dye

The instruction from Michal was very easy to understand and to apply. I have no idea how limited his pallet was until now. Because I am not a beginner, the ...

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The instruction from Michal was very easy to understand and to apply. I have no idea how limited his pallet was until now. Because I am not a beginner, the treat for me was the last half of the lessons where I was able to see the brilliance of softening the edges and the care to build the color. Great experience. Thank You

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5 star rating

Top guide trough the very creative figurative approach

William Dal

The figurative painting course proposed by Michael is one of the best workshop I ever done. His creative approach to the figurative process is outstanding. ...

Read More

The figurative painting course proposed by Michael is one of the best workshop I ever done. His creative approach to the figurative process is outstanding. Watch and listen such a talented artist has been inspiring! He kept no secrets, and he shared all his knowledge about oil painting, thank you for make this happen!

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5 star rating

Love it!

Anne Den haan

I have loved the art of Michael Carson for a long time. The way of playing with composition and shadows, the feeling that you are secretly watching, the mood...

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I have loved the art of Michael Carson for a long time. The way of playing with composition and shadows, the feeling that you are secretly watching, the moody settings... just perfection. I just never thought I could ever take lessons from someone I admire so much. Just when I was looking for a course, I came across this one! I couldn't pass up that opportunity. The course is very nice to follow, I like his style of teaching and think it's fantastic to get an insight into his use of materials, artistic choices and structure and to broaden my insight with it!

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5 star rating

Great workshop

Andreja Petrovic

Michael has a great way of simplifying figure structures and still making the paintings look realistic. His design background can be seen in his artwork and ...

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Michael has a great way of simplifying figure structures and still making the paintings look realistic. His design background can be seen in his artwork and that makes it interesting. Very informative workshop and lots of fun.

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5 star rating

Best Online Painting Workshop

Shaney Fago

Thank you Michael Carson & Art Escape Italy. I have taken in-person and online workshops and this is by far the best. Your down-to-earth teaching sty...

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Thank you Michael Carson & Art Escape Italy. I have taken in-person and online workshops and this is by far the best. Your down-to-earth teaching style, humor, and tempo made it easy to follow and engaging. There are so many ways to paint with oils, but your honest and effective approach makes it so much less daunting and yet inspires me to continue to learn and create beautiful compositions and work.

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5 star rating

Excellent and Accessible

David Gammel

This is a great workshop and demo of how Michael creates his paintings. He narrates throughout very effectively as to both what he is thinking and what he is...

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This is a great workshop and demo of how Michael creates his paintings. He narrates throughout very effectively as to both what he is thinking and what he is doing to create his image. The video is shot and edited to clearly show his work without wasting any time. I picked up quite a few new to me tips and techniques on the first watch through and I'm looking forward to painting from the reference and watching through again to pick up more. Thanks Michael, really enjoyable workshop!

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5 star rating

Michael is a Natural Teacher

Cassandra Shaw

I was another participant who really wanted to take Michael's live course but was always too slow to get a place, so for that I am glad I could do the online...

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I was another participant who really wanted to take Michael's live course but was always too slow to get a place, so for that I am glad I could do the online version! Michael is a very natural teacher and it was great to go through his whole process and follow his thoughts along the way. There are many layers and subtleties to his teaching so I am sure I will be going through the class several more times to absorb all of the depth. I also love that the chat group is a specific to Art Escape courses. So many online classes I have taken just use Facebook groups, which I would rather avoid. Great class!

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5 star rating

Fabulous, thank you.

Gina Davey

Thank you for making this fabulous workshop available to the world. I've followed M,ike for years and love his work so to be able to access this from another...

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Thank you for making this fabulous workshop available to the world. I've followed M,ike for years and love his work so to be able to access this from another country, is amazing. Very clear, concise and easy to follow with lots of very helpful tips. I'd LOVE to see Mike's work "in the flesh" one day but seeing this workshop has at least taken me another step closer to my dream.

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5 star rating

Fantastic Course!

Susan Welsh

Michael Carson explains everything that he is doing and why he is doing it. It is a wonderful education no only in painting the figure, but the steps needed ...

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Michael Carson explains everything that he is doing and why he is doing it. It is a wonderful education no only in painting the figure, but the steps needed to do so successfully. I am so grateful to take this course!

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5 star rating

Awesome Workshop!

Robyn Asquini

This workshop exceeded my expectations. It was incredibly helpful to hear Michael talking through his design decisions and technique while painting. I look f...

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This workshop exceeded my expectations. It was incredibly helpful to hear Michael talking through his design decisions and technique while painting. I look forward to using some of what I've learned in my own painting practice. Thanks so much!

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5 star rating

Detailed, relaxing course

Anne Tochka

Great painting class. Michael Carson gives very specific but very detailed information about his approach to a painting. More useful than general instruction...

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Great painting class. Michael Carson gives very specific but very detailed information about his approach to a painting. More useful than general instruction. I appreciated that he was honest and didn't withhold any information. My biggest takeaway was reconsidering my own painting process and becoming conscious of what's working and not working. I've rewatched it a few times while in the studio because the videos themselves are calming and interesting as well as being useful.

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5 star rating

Excellent!

Maria E Hannon

This has been an extremely helpful course with some different ways to address painting figures and portraits. I love Michael's work so it was fun for an opp...

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This has been an extremely helpful course with some different ways to address painting figures and portraits. I love Michael's work so it was fun for an opportunity to dig into his techniques. I've been going back and forth with the lessons and applying things in my own work.

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5 star rating

It's fantastic!

Rafael Nogueira

I got back the love for painting. Watching his way of painting made me realize where I was stuck on. Basically, I needed more oil, less solvent, less fear an...

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I got back the love for painting. Watching his way of painting made me realize where I was stuck on. Basically, I needed more oil, less solvent, less fear and some music. Thank you, Mike!

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Painting Giveaway!

And the winner is...

To celebrate the release of Michael Carson's online workshop, he has given away this signed oil painting, which he painted in preparation for filming this workshop. And the winner of Mike's painting is... Richard Scarr 🎉Congratulations Richard! We'll be sending you your painting very soon. We appreciate everyone who took part in this raffle and left a review, your feedback is so important to us and we are thrilled to hear how much you are enjoying this workshop. Thank you all!