Background & Shadows, Combined course, Independent Study

Learn what you can do with the backgrounds in your paintings, paint at your own pace, full course, all levels are encouraged

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What students say

"I never would have had the courage to put such a background on a painting before taking your lessons, but I can see now how much of an improvement it makes". Jeanne Hall

"Thanks so much for your teaching these incredible online workshops...they are magic!" :) Debra Laurie

"Thank you, Birgit. YOU make learning fun, accessible, a DREAM come true! Your fine instruction makes it possible", Frances Gill-Turano


  • Lifetime access
  • Go at your own pace
  • Paint anytime day or night
  • Interactive
  • Ask questions
  • Quizzes
  • Downloadable PDF and reference photos
  • Downloadable line sketches
  • Course is rich in content
  • Free Bonus Course Included

When it comes to backgrounds, do you paint the background first, or leave it for last, keep it the white of the paper or add lots detail and color. These are just of a few of the questions we will be covering. In this course, I’ll help you find new ideas and different approaches to apply into your paintings using a push-pull affect to create more depth.

  • By enrolling you will have immediate access to the course content.
  • Live meetings are available in the interactive course
  • Learn how to create your own reference material for future paintings.
  • Understand how to change the feeling of a painting to brighten it up, make it moody or intense and dramatic.
  • Before painting learn how to test backgrounds with some very easy techniques, and even more challenging options in Photoshop, while still keeping it as simple as possible.

Course includes two full step-by-step paintings "Apple Blossom" & "Quince" and how to how to change and rearrange reference photos to transform it into a more pleasing composition.

  • Have a better understanding of the water to color ratio, why values are important and how color intensity helps to create the results you want.
  • Have a better idea of how to recover from a dreaded bloom in the middle of your painting and use it to your advantage.
  • Have lifetime access and paint at your own pace
  • After the end date of the course, you can still participate with limited interaction.

Your Instructor

Birgit O'Connor
Birgit O'Connor

Birgit O’Connor, known for her original paintings and inspirational teaching style, is an award winning artist, master artist of CWA, NWWS, LWS and respected judge and juror.

She is the author of the top-selling North Light books “ Watercolor in Motion”"Paint Watercolor Flowers" and “Watercolor Essentials”

Birgit has been included in over 60 national and international publications. Her memberships include Cambridge Who’s Who, Who's who in America and Who's who in American woman

Course Curriculum

  Apple Blossom reference photos & line drawing
Available in days
days after you enroll
  Quince fruit & Background reference material
Available in days
days after you enroll
  Reference Photos
Available in days
days after you enroll

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

Get started now!


I never would have had the courage to put such a background on a painting before taking your lessons, but I can see now how much of an improvement it makes'. Jeanne Hall

Thanks so much for your teaching these incredible online workshops...they are magic! :) Debra Laurie

HI Birgit, I want you to know that this particular format with your personal reviews and critiques and the combination of website and class meetings are the best online course I have ever taken. Debra Prat

Thank you, Birgit. YOU make learning fun, accessible, a DREAM come true! Your fine instruction makes it possible, Frances Gill-Turano

Hi Birgit, I really like watching you paint… Your courses are amazing! Cheryl F. Canada

Thank you Birgit..... I am much encouraged. I have all the right equipment and am learning a lot. IT IS INCREDIBLE to be able to get advice from an accomplished artist. I shall persevere! Pat

Hi Birgit Your courses are 100 percent effective. Thanks, Fay

Hi Birgit... I'm thrilled with your extensive comments. :-) I'm really enjoying the course and to have such a valuable critique is such a wonderful addition to this course. Its as good, or possibly even better than being in a class with you. Feel like I'm on the right track with the right tutor to help me. Kind regards from Jude. :-)

WOW!!! You are such a real professional!!! I love how you are instructing...quiet, confident voice, SAYING exactly what you are doing and why, SHOWING exactly what you are doing and why, USING the reference photo as a guide and REFERRING to the practice sample as a reminder that "you can do it"!! And then GIVING the students time to put into practice what you've just taught with your comments and suggestions ready to help! WOW! Not only a first class instructor, but an excellent and beautiful artist. I LOVE YOUR WORK! Cheryl Feragen

I can't tell you how much I enjoy your courses, Birgit, you are a very generous and skilled teacher. LInda Read

Birgit! You are amazing master of painting enriching our minds, hearts and imagination with your art. Thank you, Zlatica Stauder

Birgit is an excellent instructor who is organized, informative and thorough in her presentations. Also she is very supportive and helpful in her comments on the painting submissions. I felt strongly that she really wanted me to learn and improve and produce a painting that would make me feel that I had achieved a result that would be worthwhile. I would take another class from her in a heartbeat. Sincerely, Trish Kuncewicz

I wanted you to know that I really appreciate your calm teaching voice. It was one of the main reasons I chose your class. You speak very thoughtfully, slowly, and clearly. While watching the videos, I picked up a lot of helpful instruction, before of working on the actual painting. Using the sweeping upstroke to avoid spreading at the end of the stroke, and softening the edges of lines with a larger brush both worked beautifully, much improving my first attempts! I'll be starting to paint the poppy tomorrow – so excited! Thanks in advance, Laurie

Hi Birgit. Wow!!!Looks great!!!You are tireless!!!! I love the video courses. Thank you for sharing your expertise with the rest of us. Mary Louise

Dear Birgit you are my all time favorite artist and I have purchased your some of your courses as well as a copy of the watercolor magic magazine you are featured in. H. Merchant AUSTRALIA

Hi Birgit I am a retired art, elementary, and Montessori teacher with over 30 years experience. I tried other classes but I think I've learned the most from Birgit's online courses. I love the feedback she gives, it's way more than I have received before. I find it so valuable. I look forward to doing more. Jann Clare