Instruction, philosophy and credentials

Artist Robert Louis Caldwell working on a oil painting of lions

Robert Louis Caldwell

Artist and Instructor

​ARC Associate Living Master

Signature Member, The Society of Animal Artists

Learn more about Robert and his work by visiting

​Individual attention. Creative exploration.

Join professional working and internationally exhibited artist Robert Louis Caldwell for live online instructional courses and mentorship studios as well as recorded instructional courses. Robert’s courses range from fundamentals in drawing and oil painting to specific techniques in handling different mediums and creating textures. The live instructional courses focus on a specific technique and subject matter; work alongside Robert from your own studio and receive personal instruction throughout the session. In the live mentorship studios, Robert works with students at a variety of skill levels, while encouraging them to expand their skills and problem-solve creatively so every student comes away with a growing confidence in his or her artistic abilities.

Robert believes in first building a strong foundation of skills for students and then progressing to additional techniques and media to build their knowledge of seeing and creating lines, shapes, forms, value and color. Just like fellow musicians, actors and athletes, a visual artist must have the discipline to continually build and maintain their creative talent.

Drawing courses 

Designed to be taken successively, the drawing courses are formed around lessons that build on each other, allowing students to develop confidence along the way. Students start with a fundamental course where they learn to see shapes, understand value and create 3D three-dimensional drawings on a two-dimensional surface. Subsequent courses allow students to build confidence with their drawing technique through drawing subjects that resonate with each individual artist. Whether an artist wants to draw still life, animals, landscapes or people, Robert will help each artist see the underlying shapes through the surface details of the chosen subject.

Robert creates his drawings using the technique of continuous tone with layered graphite. Although many of his students strive to create their drawings using this same technique, Robert doesn’t require that they use this approach. He does, however, stress the importance of creating a high-level of contrast (value) in drawings as this is what brings graphite to life.

Painting courses

Painting courses are open to students working in oil only and provide an understanding of the basic principles of painting, including technique and color mixing. Robert stresses a high level of importance on understanding and comprehending color theory, learning how colors work with each other and what happens when you mix one color with another. The lessons are designed to build on each other, allowing students to develop confidence in their painting skills. Students should be able to see and identify shapes, understand value and be able to draw. It is Robert’s philosophy that to paint well, you must be able to draw well.

Robert’s personal painting technique starts off with a tonal painting, which acts as the foundation for the painting to come. His technique is a variation of the Flemish/Venetian Old Masters’ technique where they would begin with a Grisaille (a black-and-white underpainting) and then proceed to add glazes of color to create the finished painting. Robert’s color layers are more opaque than the Old Masters but the approach is roughly the same.

Mentoring studios (intermediate and advanced)

After completing a few courses of either the drawing and/or painting fundamentals courses, most students continue with their art instruction in a mentoring studio. Robert offers four weekly mentoring studios, and they are limited to 10 students in each.

Students in the mentoring studios continue to build confidence with their individual technique using their medium of choice. Students will also start to explore composition, seeking out reference or arranging subjects to create their own creative expression and style. Advanced students have a solid understanding of value, form, color (if a painter) and technique. Once a student feels comfortable with these, then we start to talk about arranging the elements in a picture to create an aesthetically pleasing finished drawing or painting.

Robert also offers help to students preparing their portfolio for application to a college or a county specialty art high school as well as guidance in submitting to art shows. Students who would like help preparing and building their portfolio for submission to a program should plan to spend a minimum of six months creating the work to meet the requirements for the program they are applying to. Most programs require 12-16 pieces in a prospective student's portfolio.

Robert’s teaching philosophy

Robert’s teaching philosophy is to approach each student as an individual. He strongly encourages everyone to start from the fundamentals but after that initial starting point, he realizes that everyone moves at their own pace and that each student will reach their independent goals on their own schedule. Robert has been teaching since 2010, with many of his students continuing with him for several years. A few of them have been with him for 10 years. Robert also teaches workshops around the country.

Robert views creating art like building a house. You may see a beautiful house in front of you but what gives it that beauty is the structure and foundation underneath. For artists, that structure and foundation is the knowledge of the fundamentals of art, value, form, color and technique. To create a beautiful finished drawing or painting and, more importantly, to enjoy creating that drawing or painting, a good artist has confidence and understanding in all the fundamentals. All creative disciplines require this dedication to learning the basics. When artwork is viewed by someone who doesn’t possess this knowledge, who doesn’t understand the level of effort and passion required to create it, they see “casual grace.” In the end, that is what Robert is hoping people see in his students’ work, a casual grace.


  • Art instructor since 2010
  • Owned and operated Midlothian Art Academy 2016-2020 (closed due to COVID-19)
  • Online instruction
  • Studio instruction
  • Workshops around the country
  • ​Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master​
  • Artist-in-residence, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin
  • Art instruction to teens
  • Gallery talks
  • Adult drawing workshop
  • Author, “Draw Realistic Animals: Wildlife, Pets and More”
  • Featured artist
  • "Art Journey Animals A Collection of Inspiring Contemporary Masterworks"
  • “Sketchbook Confidential 2”
  • “Strokes of Genius 2”
As an art instructor, Robert has:
  • Helped several teen students successfully prepare portfolios for central Virginia art specialty centers, including:
  • Thomas Dale High School-Visual and Performing Arts
  • Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology
  • Helped several graduating seniors prepare portfolios for admission into art colleges and universities, including:
  • Parsons
  • Maryland Institute Colleg of Art
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Pratt Institute
  • Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Worked with teen students to enter the annual Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards (teens)
  • 2020: Regional, 10 Gold Keys, 8 Silver Keys, 13 Honorable Mentions, 2 Portfolio Honoarable Mentions
  • 2019: Regional, 6 Gold Keys, 14 Silver Keys, 18 Honorable Mentions, 1 Portfolio Silver Key
  • 2018: 2 National Gold Keys
  • 2018: Regional, 8 Gold Keys, 17 Silver Keys, 23 Honorable Mentions
  • 2017: Regional, 2 Gold Keys, 5 Silver Keys, 15 Honorable Mentions, 1 Portfolio Honorable Mention
  • 2016: Regional, 6 Gold Keys, 8 Silver Keys, 5 Honorable Mentions
  • 2015: Regional, 5 Gold Keys, 7 Silver Keys and 5 Honorable Mentions
  • 2014: Regional, 3 Gold Keys, 2 Silver Keys and 1 Honorable Mentions
  • Worked with adult students to enter local, regional and national shows
  • Organized two student art shows annually and small group shows for advanced students