John MacDonald

John MacDonald: Mastering Values


Video Length: 5 Hours
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John MacDonald, a landscape painter for over 40 years, will lead you on an expedition to see, understand, and use values to create superior paintings. This course is a deep dive into how understanding and using values will fundamentally shift your approach to every painting you do.


Here’s just a glimpse of what’s in store for you in Mastering Values:

  • A new way to see values in the landscape (you’ll see differently!)
  • How to use values to structure your painting (this is a deep dive like you’ve never experienced before)
  • Using values to give life to your color — no more flat and lifeless paintings!
  • The best method to create depth and atmosphere in your paintings — a trouble spot for many artists, but now it won’t be for you!
  • A specific technique to create better compositions — this is a must-see!
  • An easy way to direct the eye (you’re in control of how your viewers see your work!)
  • How to separate values from colors for maximum impact (this may be new news to you!)
  • The way to convey mood quickly, clearly, and in a way that is full of emotion (you’ll be painting a mood, not just a scene!)
  • How to slow down to speed up (no, really!)


A Strong Focus on Values!

If a strong focus on values is new to you, or if you know in your heart that you are not strong in this area, this is the video for you! 

John has an understandable, friendly way of explaining his approach that is easy to follow and he gets you involved so you’ll not only learn, you’ll apply your new skills.


John demonstrates many techniques for you, here are just a few:

  • How to use photos to your benefit without it feeling like a photo
  • The color filter to use to see the values clearly
  • How to use a value scale to properly identify values
  • A way to use your eyes to “see” values in a new way 
  • The critical tool that instantly makes your paintings better
  • The crucial pre-painting process that will improve every painting


John is a master at balancing the values in his paintings to make the mood accessible to everyone. You won’t be able to look away from one of his paintings!

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to see how John creates his award winning paintings as he shares his best with you.


Some of John’s Tools to Capture More of the Landscape Than Any Camera:

  • Tonal sketches that go far beyond the limitations of a camera
  • Utilizing a narrated video in your artwork
  • Color filters that will help you “see” much better
  • High-quality underpaintings


Experience these additional insights from this highly accomplished artist:

  • How John conveys powerful moods in his paintings
  • The power of having ONE focal point
  • Why eliminating details is critical
  • What “temperature contrast” is in using color and why it matters 
  • How to value-align different colors for maximum impact


John’s style of teaching is captivating. You’ll be learning and you won’t even realize it! 

Chapter Outline for Mastering Values

  • Introduction - How values make a painting
  • Value Concepts and Techniques
  • Two kinds of values
  • Four ways to see foundation values
  • Composition and Foundation Values: The tonal sketch and the value it will bring to your paintings.
  • Establish the Value Structure: Start the Underpainting
  • Review materials and tools
  • Discover two types of underpaintings
  • Create a great underpainting
  • Secondary Values, Details, and Edges: Develop the Underpainting
  • Edge contrasts, place details to enhance the focal point
  • Understand and apply the secondary values
  • From Value to Color
  • Relationship between values and color — color contract
  • Finishing the Painting
  • When it’s time to stop!
  • Using frames to evaluate and avoid overworking


Bonus Features

  • Subtractive underpainting
  • Working in value keys
  • The illusion of Luminosity
  • Sun angle and values
  • Fan Favorite! High-Speed view of demo painting
  • Exhibit of works set to music
  • Interview with the artist conducted by Eric Rhoads
  • Insights from the artist


Customer Reviews

Based on 17 reviews
Nevine Hunt
John MacDonald: Mastering Values

I am SO glad I bought this very VALUES video by John MacDonald who is a wonderful tutor, with great clarity in explaining and demoing. As much as I had already learnt what he covered (but not great at the actual 'doing'), by watching and listening I already see an improvement of my first attempt. Generous too with all the brilliant bonus features/lessons. I particularly love the High Speed View of his demo, wonderful to see the painting from a blank canvas to coming alive in 4 minutes.

Murray McCandlish
John MacDonald: Mastering Values

Fantastic and insightful about the fundamentals of painting

John MacDonald: Mastering Values

What an amazing video and teacher. I really enjoyed this video and I will watch it again. So much to learn. Thank you John.

Pieter Lefferts
John MacDonald: Mastering Values

This video should be essential watch for all painters. I fully recommend it.

John MacDonald: Mastering Values

I already feel this class changing the way I approach the compositional phase of my painting. Unfortunately, I can't use tonal underpaintings in the same way as a watercolorist, but it was still instructive to watch. He also includes quite a bit of color theory, and an explanation of his preferred working palette, despite initially stating it wasn't going to be a major component.