This post goes on and on. Get comfy.
Only last night I wrote this declaring I was writing this blog for me. Today this post is for others mostly. I was asked on Instagram last night (I love that place, and I can’t believe it’s related to Facebook, I hope it doesn’t pick up any of its bad habits) about having my brains picked for painting tips.
Oh, and another warning – my resource suggestions are based around those which helped me with my approach to painting and drawing. So if you’re interested in things like illustration, folk art or design, you may find all this totally pointless.
Now, I don’t have a formal art education, and I haven’t been doing this very long, but I’m happy to share the resources I’ve used so far, and pass on the good wisdom of other artists from whom I’ve sucked up every word they wrote or you tube tutorial they filmed.
Whilst, like most people, as I kid I loved drawing, and have dabbled on and off all my life, it’s only later in life and in the last year I’ve seriously put my stake in the ground and declared “I am an artist!”
In a previous life I did unnecessarily complicated things with data for the NHS. Then I got sick and had to give up my career and find some other way of living, some other purpose, that could fit around my chronic fluctuating illness. I took a convoluted route to art. It was in some ways happenstance: someone I was following on Twitter asked if anyone wanted to post some of their art to a drawing thread and for some reason I decided I did. There’s not a lot to lose posting some of your art on the internet hiding from behind your computer. It gave me confidence to continue posting my artwork and I began to think I might really invest in this way of life.
Very quickly, the need to make art became compelling. You artist people know of what I speak! I mean that feeling inside where you just have to draw or paint or drip or chisel or some piece of your soul will die and never grow back.
Making art teaches you a lot. I don’t mean just about the technical side of things, like paint handling or composition, I mean it teaches you about problem solving, self sufficiency, self motivation, self confidence, self reflection. It’s not for everyone in a full time capacity; it can feel solitary, and it’s a way of life.
WE DON’T NEED NO EDUCATION
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have a formal art education; I’m self taught. This isn’t by desire but by design: I already used up my student loan graduating in computer science years ago, and though it’s all paid back, you only get one loan courtesy of the government, and I do not have the funds myself.
Though I coveted a degree in Fine Arts, I’m now so glad this wasn’t in the end an avenue open to me. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it at all and would possibly have found that approach a frustrating one. Certainly I’m convinced I wouldn’t have made as much practical progress with my work as I have done, but I guess I would say that!
I also looked at a number of School of Arts type establishments around the country, some of whom offer distance learning. I found they were either as expensive as a degree (and in fact offered degrees) or were slightly less expensive but only offered vocational qualifications. Because they offer all kinds of payment systems I was sorely tempted, but again, I’m so glad I didn’t pursue this course of action – I came across one of these schools who had a you tube video on capturing someones likeness. Frankly, it was a poor bit of teaching.
I’m not saying these types of education doesn’t help people fulfill their artistic potential – I just knew that they were not for me, that there was something missing from them, something fundamental. However, when I came across the classic atelier school approach, I knew, if money were no object, this would be my art education of choice, where you spend the first year just drawing from casts, and by the fourth year you’re allowed to use colour in your paintings. By contrast to a BFA, this style of learning and art making is far more what I’d be looking for.
WRAPPING UP NOW, ALMOST DONE
In any event, none of these are an option for me. When finances do allow, and especially as my youngest child gets older, I’d love to take atelier summer school or perhaps a distance learning atelier course, or even a workshop run by my favourite artists. So it’s not that I don’t value education – it’s just I can’t afford it right now and so I had to get my knowledge in other ways. and this is what this blog post series is all about – useful resources and online classes that are either free or affordable. Depending on what you want from your art, my suggestions may not be suitable. Art is a generic term – there are various strains of it. I’m interested in a classic foundation, leading towards impressionism and expressionism, even abstract, and chiefly painting, so my suggestions are based around that.
If you’re still reading all this – hurrah and well done! It was lengthy and I can waffle sometimes, often for my own benefit so I can get my head clear!
So – part one will follow where I’ll discuss basics first: drawing resources. I don’t want to just post a tedious list of links, so hopefully I’ll be able to write posts that have my own personal take on the subject, along with a list of resources I used.