Are You...

  • Stuck in a rut making paintings that don’t visually excite you because they lack adequate contrast?
  • Trying to stay motivated and inspired in the studio because making the same mistakes over and over kills your confidence and desire to keep painting?
  • Wondering what materials and tools you can use and how you can use them to create more contrast in your work?
  • Wondering how you can use color, value, marks and depth to create more contrast in your work?
  • Trying to find new ways of starting and finishing a painting that will help inject contrast into your work?

I can help you with these issues and more!

I have been painting for over 20 years and well know the challenges of trying to figure out how to use the elements of abstract painting to create work that is visually exciting. The single most important thing I learned along the way was how to use the secret weapon of contrast to transform my work and achieve my artistic vision. I want to share that knowledge with you. This course picks up where we left off in my first course, Dive Into Abstract Painting: Exploring Fundamentals. [That course is NOT a prerequisite to this one]. We will continue our studies of abstract painting fundamentals, using the lens of contrast to guide our way a little deeper into our journey.

What We Will Cover

This course is suitable for all levels of painters including those who are returning to their creative practice after a long hiatus.

  • How to stay inspired and motivated in the studio.

  • The importance of contrast and how to create it.

  • A survey of paints, mediums, painting and mark making tools, including both the conventional and unconventional.

  • Using color and value to create contrast in your work.

  • Using marks to enhance contrast.

  • Using shapes as a start and as a means of increasing contrast in your work.

  • Developing a painting from start to finish, infused with the different ways of creating contrast.

What the course includes:

This is a self-paced online course designed to be completed in 4 weeks depending upon the amount of time you have available. Delivered in a password protected virtual classroom, it is organized into different learning modules by subject. It includes:
  • Prerecorded audio talks
  • Prerecorded video studio demonstrations
  • Downloadable written pdf handouts
  • Bonus handouts and studio challenges
  • Membership in a private Facebook group, ArtSmart Workshops
  • Monthly live Zoom sessions. Every quarter the monthly Zoom session consists of a 2 hour live paint event where we will all paint together from our own studios.

You have a full year access to the course materials, and lifetime access to the Facebook group, so there is no rush to complete the learning modules. You can enjoy them again and again, learning something new every time!

You also have the opportunity to power up your learning!

Add 2 live private 30 minute scheduled Zoom conversations with Julie where you can discuss your concerns, your progress and your work.

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • [To Do] Download Adobe Acrobat Reader Software

    • [Read] Tour of the Learning Portal-Exploring Contrast

    • [Watch] Welcome To Dive Into Abstract Painting: Exploring Contrast

    • [Read] Supplies: Materials Handout

    • [To Do] Join Our Private Facebook Group

  • 2

    Live Sessions With Julie Schumer: Group Q & A

    • [Read] How Your Q & A Sessions Work

    • [Read] How To Get The Most Out Of Your Q & A Sessions

    • Group Q & A Schedule

    • [To Do] Your Question

  • 3


    • [Listen] Embracing and Developing your Creative Practice

    • [Listen] The Importance of Contrast and Ways to Create it-

    • [Read] Embracing and Developing Your Creative Practice

    • [Read] Creating Visual Contrast in Your Paintings

    • [Read] [Bonus] 8 Tips to Strengthening Your Own Creative Voice

  • 4

    Module 1: Materials Review

    • [Watch] Paints and Mediums

    • [Watch] Mark Making Tools

    • [Watch] Painting Tools: Try the Unconventional

    • [Watch] Make Your Own Long Handled Brush-

    • [Read] An Introduction to Acrylic Mediums and Additives

    • [Read] [Bonus] Setting up Your Studio

    • [Read and Do] In Your Studio

  • 5

    Module 2: Color as a Way to Inject Contrast into Your Work

    • [Listen] Introduction

    • [Read] Explore Color and Value Fundamentals

    • [Watch] Value and Contrast

    • [Watch] Desaturate a Saturated Color

    • [Watch] Create a Complementary Palette

    • [Watch] Create a 3 Color Harmonious Palette with Contrast

    • [Read] Does Your Painting Have Enough Variety of Values

    • [Read] [Bonus] Using Color to Evoke Mood and Emotion in Your Paintings

    • [Read and Do] In Your Studio

  • 6

    Module 3: Using Marks to Enhance Contrast

    • [Listen] Introduction

    • [Watch] Know Your Unique Marks

    • [Watch] Create Variation in Your Marks

    • [Watch] Create Contrast with Line

    • [Watch] Layer Marks and Paint to Create Contrast

    • [Read and Do] In Your Studio

  • 7

    Module 4: Beginning and Building a Painting: Shapes and Contrast

    • [Listen] Introduction

    • [Watch] Start with One Geometric Shape

    • [Watch] Start with Three Geometric Shapes

    • [Watch] Combine Geometric and Organic Shapes

    • [Watch] Building a Painting with Shapes

    • [Read] The Meaning of Shapes

    • [Read and Do] In Your Studio

  • 8

    Module 5: Embracing Contrast from Start to Finish

    • [Listen] Introduction

    • [Watch] Embracing Contrast Exercise 1

    • [Watch] Embracing Contrast Exercise 2-

    • [Watch] Working Through a Start

    • [Read] Exercise Instructions 1 & 2

    • [Read] Composition and Contrast

    • [Read] [Bonus] When is a Painting Finished

    • [Read and Do] In Your Studio

  • 9


    • [Watch] Conclusion

    • Before You Go

    • Other Online Courses

What People Are Saying About Julie’s Courses

"An Excellent Teacher"

by Petra M.

While I have studied other visual art forms, Julie introduced me to an impressive array of materials, concepts, and methods in a short amount of time — on a scale that is not readily accessible to me. She is an excellent teacher, providing enough direction to guide me through an approach to painting, as well as time and space for my own exploration, and discussion and reflection. I left feeling confident to experiment on my own, which is really what I was after.

"Exactly What I Needed"

by Rose H. Faissal

Julie’s workshop was informative, inspiring, and helped build my confidence and momentum–which was exactly what I needed. I enjoyed learning the loosening up techniques to help get started when faced with a blank canvas and not sure where/how to start; and also had fun exploring with new paint and drawing tools that produced surprisingly great results.

About Your Instructor

Julie Schumer

Julie Schumer is a self taught artist whose work is shown in galleries across the United Sates. Julie lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has been teaching expressive painting workshops for a number of years and has found it thrilling to help painters learn new skills, gain confidence and become excited about their painting journey, taking it to the next level. Now her courses are offered in an online format which enables those in distant lands to participate.

Here is everything you get when you sign up:

  • Access to the Dive Into Abstract Painting: Exploring Contrast Course with monthly Zoom Group question and answer sessions for as long as you would like to attend ($697 value)
  • A quarterly 2 hour live Zoom painting event where we will paint together in our studios ($497 value)
  • Membership in the private Art Smart Workshops Facebook Community ($497 value)
  • PLUS 3 Bonus handouts:
    • 8 Tips to Strengthening Your Own Creative Voice
    • Setting Up Your Studio
    • Using Color to Evoke Mood and Emotion in Your Paintings [$300 value]

Total Value of the Course plus Bonuses is $1891

Power up your learning experience!

Add two private 30 minute Q & A Zoom sessions or one 60 minute session with Julie to discuss your work and any additional questions you may have, and get the course plus Facebook community, group q & a sessions, live painting session and bonus handouts for only $647! This is a $1547 value.

By the end of the course you will have

    • Learned tools to keep you motivated and inspired in your creative practice
    • Experimented with unconventional painting and mark making tools that will add contrast to your paintings
    • Learned ways to use color and value to add contrast to your work
    • Learned how to create variety and contrast with your marks, thereby creating excitement in your work
    • Learned how to layer marks and paint to enhance contrast
    • Learned how to use shapes as a springboard to start a painting
    • Learned how to work with different shapes to add contrast
    • Created a painting from start to finish, incorporating different ways of enhancing contrast

Materials You Will Need

Here is a list of supplies you will want to have on hand.

materials and supply list.pdf

Watch a sample video


  • How long do I have access to the course?

    You will have full access to the course for one year after you sign up, and to the Facebook community for as long as you want.

  • Do I have access to the full course at once?

    Yes, all modules of the course are available now.

  • How long will it take me to complete the course?

    Depending on how much time you have available to work on the course, it is designed to be completed in 4 weeks. This is a self-paced course that you can complete at your own convenience.

  • What is your refund policy?

    Upon your request, you will receive a full, no questions asked refund within 7 days of your purchase of the course.

  • Do I have to join the Facebook group?

    No, but it will enhance your learning experience to meet other similarly situated artists. It is also an opportunity to interact with Julie!

  • What do I do if I have technical support issues with accessing the course?

    Send Julie an email to and we will resolve your issue as quickly as possible. You do not need any special computer skills to be able to take the course. If you are able to create an account online, log in, download written material and watch videos from a website you will be able to navigate the course on the Thinkific learning platform.

Sign for any two courses and save!

  • $537.00

    $537.00Dive Into Abstract Painting Fundamentals + Exploring Contrast

    Save $247 if you sign up for both!
    Buy Now
  • $497.00

    $497.00Dive Into Abstract Painting Fundamentals + Mark Making

    Save $147 if you sign up for both!
    Buy Now
  • $497.00

    $497.00Dive Into Abstract Painting Mark Making + Contrast

    Save $147 if you sign up for both!
    Buy Now

7 Day Money Back Guarantee

I want you to be happy with your purchase. Cancel any time within 7 days from your first course sign in and receive a full, no questions asked refund.