How to art level 2
October 5, 2020 9:09 PM   Subscribe

What's a good course for someone who already does art to take it to another level?

Tl;dr: if you were someone doing art at a level you were pleased but not satisfied with, and you paid for an online course you feel was totally worth it - ideally with an instructor who provided feedback - that took your art tangibly to another level of confidence, technique, knowledge, and skill -- which course was it?

I'm assuming up front that the kind of course I'm looking for is paid, I just want to know I'll be getting something worthwhile for the money...


I've been drawing for many years and drawing regularly for a few years.

I am 100% completely self taught in a haphazard fashion. I read drawing on the right side of the brain once, everything else has been free tutorials I've read online (from deviantart, once upon a time, these days mostly stuff from Instagram and the occasional YouTube). (yes, I've also seen drawabox, and binge read Monika Zagrobelna).

So I've acquired a vague cumulus cloud knowledge of color theory, composition, etc. I've sort of attempted to apply this stuff but don't have any feedback but my own eyes for if I'm doing it right, and no instruction on what to focus on fixing when I don't get it right. (At this point, given a reference, I can almost always draw it - on the B&W sketch level - to an accuracy level I'm satisfied with, so anything related to teaching that is something I'm not interested in. Value and color are both weaker, I get value mostly right but not always in the more subtle bits, and I vent about color further down)

I also have a lot of really, really basic gaps in my knowledge (particularly obvious regarding certain practical things, like "how to clean gouache paint off a paintbrush" or "wetness effect on watercolors"- I can at least credit the one awful art class I took for teaching me about turpentine for oil paints, but I've gotten nothing equivalent for any other medium-- the frustration over getting bogged down over this with zero support has led to me recently focusing more on digital art, although I certainly have some basic gaps there it's easier to watch a tutorial for applying filter layers on YouTube) (but there are other gaps too)

There are thousands of art courses online! I am willing to pay for one if its worth the cost, BUT I have no idea which are any good and would help take me from self-taught to well-grounded. I feel like I don't know what I don't know, or can't coherently articulate what I do know I don't know.

(for what it's worth, topics of interest include:

better backgrounds, and landscapes in their own right,
making a person figure "fit" into the environment,
stylization and cartooning,
How Does Even Abstract (I love some abstract art but don't understand how t woooorks),
how to make a stiff sketch turn into a more dynamic and pleasing second draft,
Color Theory Part 500/50,000 (please NO MORE COLOR WHEELS labeled "primaries, split complement" etc those do nothing for me! Thing like explaining to add a saturated color between dark and light for blending is WAY more useful than another bloody color wheel. But in general, there is a clear gap where I look at art whose colors I love, and try to achieve the same effect, and fail, that suggests to me I'm missing something. (transition colors was a light bulb moment! I want more of those))

... I've been doing a lot of portraits lately, so I want to take a break from that and am not interested in a course addressing that)
posted by Cozybee to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I’m you! I’m also quite overwhelmed by the number of online classes and trying to make my own curriculum when I don’t know what it is that I don’t know.

I wish we both had a mentor or personal tutor. They could work one on one with your particular knowledge gaps and give you feedback on your work, and put together some projects on stuff you tell them you need help with. This has to exist right? Maybe your local art center could put you in touch with a Zoom tutor?
posted by moons in june at 10:53 PM on October 5, 2020

Ask the Art Prof might provide some of what you're looking for.
posted by Chairboy at 4:42 AM on October 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

If there is an art store in your area that is acknowledged as "the" store for serious artists (as opposed to a Michael's or Hobby Lobby, for example), they will be in touch with any number of teacher-types wishing to hold quarantine-respectful classes (Zoom or outdoor with proper distancing, masks, etc.) during Covid. Speaking from personal experience (both making and teaching art) I think a number of those would also jump at the chance to take a motivated person on as private, one-on-one client. Call "the" art store and make enquiries. (Staff are also probably artists in real life and will be good to talk with about all manner of art-related subjects.)
posted by flowergrrrl at 6:37 AM on October 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

My friend (who is a very talented artist in her own right) recently began a mentorship with an artist she admired to learn his painting techniques and theory. She reached out to him online and they set up a price and a schedule. It's all been remote video lessons, and it's been working really well for her.
posted by ananci at 8:02 AM on October 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Honestly, I've always found that a good figure drawing class helps in all aspects of making art. It really trains your eye to see form, lighting, balance, composition, expression, etc. etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:34 AM on October 6, 2020

Take art history classes!

In art school they force you to spend a lot of time focusing on fundamentals. So the basics... color theory, principles of design, figure drawing. From there you kind of move on to mastering your materials to a minute degree, for example I studied photography and even though things were mostly digital at the time, I still had to take a very technical photo chemistry class and learn the old school Zone System. There is lots of value in learning a wide range of technical skills even if it's not "your thing" because you learn different problem solving tools.

I also thought the critique system in art school, where you have to stand up in front of your class and defend your work, was invaluable. I would find some program that approximates that.
posted by bradbane at 11:56 AM on October 6, 2020

Seconding Art Prof which has free online tutorials and also optional paid critiques.
posted by bunderful at 2:14 PM on October 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is super late, but here are two classes on color that I've found super helpful.

1) Youtube video from Simona Ceccarelli.
2) Will Terry's Choosing Colors SVS class.
posted by tinymegalo at 4:19 PM on December 8, 2020

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