Thursday, April 03, 2008

Getting an Art Education Online, Part II

You may be wondering why there is an alien baby in today's post. Well . . . I wanted to show you what I looked like before I started my online art education. This alien baby is actually a drawing I did of my daughter back when she was about six months old. And I thought it was good.

Ugh. Anyway, do the math. This drawing is a little over three years old. How far I've come!

As if you need any more encouragement about online education, right? I've decided this is such an important topic to me that I'm going to do an additional post about it tomorrow and hopefully attack the questions as well.

Today I want to post on the online resources I've made use of in the past three years. There are hundreds more that I'm sure I've not encountered yet, and I encourage you to post the ones that were actually useful to you in the comments. Not the ones you ought to post. Not the ones you thought about reading. The ones you did. The ones that really made an influence.

Now, as a bunch of the commenters noted in the last post, art education in any form is what you make of it. Essentially, all artists are self-taught -- it's just whether or not you have a professor to guide you. Online, you have to be your own professor, your own study-guide. You also have only you to be accountable for, which can be a problem. No deadlines mean lackluster study habits. So it shouldn't be a surprise that the first and absolutely best resource on my list is an artists' forum. Surround yourself with people who know what you're working on, because then you'll have an excuse to get your work done and to strive harder.

Without further ado, my top five resources:

Hands down, this is the best resource in my arsenal. There are other artists forums out there -- ScribbleTalk, ArtPapa, etc. and I'm certain they're also useful -- but WetCanvas just happened to be the first one I ran across and the one that became my home. Why was it useful? First of all, there were a ton of struggling beginners just like me, posting their works in progress for all to critique. Even if I couldn't work up the nerve to post my works for critique, I learned shovel-loads from observing how other people laid down color and attacked their artistic problems. Plus, as mentioned above, suddenly I had accountability. If I posted a work in progress, I felt motivated to finish it and post the next step. I'm Piper1 on WC and you can see just how far my work's come since I began posting on the colored pencil forum. It's a huge site -- plan on taking a while to get familiar with how it works.

Making a Mark:
The blog of art maven Katherine Tyrrell is a veritable haven for beginning and advanced artists alike. She covers a huge range of art subjects and writes about them sensitively and intelligently. I would say I'm biased because I'm also a close friend of hers, but we met on WC and became friends precisely because we approach art-making in the same way. There's always more to be learned.

Gurney Journey:
This is the blog of James Gurney, the artist who created Dinotopia. Don't let that throw you. His blog is a wonderful resource for color theory and art techniques -- my mind boggles at how much time each of his intensely useful blog posts must take to write. I highly recommend it for intermediate and advanced artists -- beginning artists might find it a bit overwhelming.

John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery:
Ironically, the painter who had the most significant influence on my work is dead as a doornail. John Singer Sargent's work still hits me everytime I look at it, and I spent literally hours going through this site. I don't think everyone has to idolize JSS, however, I do think having an artist mentor, alive or dead, is useful.

Endless Summer Art Fair:
This is one of clever Casey Klahn's blogs -- this one is full of tips on setting up art booths and generally not making an idiot of yourself when you're displaying your art in public. A must for working artists.

More tomorrow . . .


Kellie Hill said...

Love this list, and the idea behind it- also really-really love the Sargent online gallery place. If I could suggest a couple more resources.... , doesn't post very often but there's an absolute treasure-trove already there.
and the hall groat's and duane keiser's youtube videos- there's speeding up and skips, but I love that their videos actually show them making the strokes on the canvas, show the painting growing that way.

btw, awesome job with these posts, Maggie! and all these done despite incidents like the non-stick kitchen, now that's really impressive ;)

Rose Welty said...

Good list Maggie. I'd throw "start a blog" onto my list. I've never been able to jump into forums all that much. But starting a blog has kept me accountable, kept my output up, and enabled me to meet lots of people with great advice and encouragement.

I'd list Charley Parker's lines and colors blog as well. He has a wide spectrum of artists featured, so you can see artists you wouldn't normally gravitate to and that is a good thing.

Teresa in NC said...

Hi Maggie,
I'm fairly new to your blog (been subscribing for a few weeks now) but have become hooked and it's the first email I look for when I go to my inbox. Your posts are as fresh, colorful and honest as your artwork! Love the "alien baby" post - so often artists show their best work and while that may give the rest of us something to work toward it's nice to see where an accomplished artist started out.... hey, there's hope for the rest of us yet!

Question: Are there any of your older posts that cover your working technique from start to finish? I've never worked with colored pencils but after having seen what you do with them I'd like to give them a try.

Thanks for the great info... please keep up the good work!

Dougie said...

Hi Maggie,

Okay... I've got to say.. I absolutely LOVE reading your blog! The part that I love the most is that it's more about the artist's him/herself versus artwork. It's interesting about the posting of the baby picture and thinking that it's good. I've definitely come across the same situation.

I've started keeping a blog for the last 6 months to record my progress and, if you do so, it's a great way to see if you are actually making progress! Art Education is way of getting there faster, but, there's nothing like drawing/painting/drawing and then... when you don't feel like doing it any more... drawing/painting some more.

A definite example of this is on my blog: Example My stuff is not nearly as good as yours, but with practice, maybe someday I'll get there. You have some excellent pieces.


hbedrosian said...


Great advice, and thanks for boldly posting an early work to show how your technique has progressed. By the way, it's been a little over a year since I quit my job to become an artist and I cringe when I look at some of my earliest work... though I also thought it was good at the time!

Lorrie Drennan said...

Hi sister from another mamma! I do not know how I stumbled around on this earth and made any progress at all on my own without the benefit of your pearls of wisdom! Again, I thank you for your generosity of spirit as I do know that these things don't just write themselves.

Two helpful sites I go to regularly are Sovek:The Art of Charles Sovek and Empty Easel. Charles Sovek's site has a wealth of tutorials and articles. It has been well maintained and updated regularly since his death last year. (He is another with a great generosity of spirit). Empty Easel has articles on the business side of art as well as online selling, featured artist each week. Both can keep you busy for a while.

Robyn said...

I would never have made the progress I have, had I not discovered WetCanvas in 2005. I have so much to be grateful for from the generous spirits of a number of forums.

WetCanvas introduced me to sketching with Katherine Tyrrell and when I followed her to Making a Mark, it was like enrolling in Art Finishing School. Through Katherine I found your blog and a number of others that have become firm favourites and, of course, the JSS Virtual Gallery.

This is a great series of posts, Maggie and I think anyone starting out who hasn't found WetCanvas before will bless you for life.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Maggie - thanks for referencing me and I feel positively ashamed not to have said thanks before as you told me you were posting. What can I say - I got too absorbed in my books for a long post and then was cleaning house on my squidoo lenses yesterday!

I do agree with Kellie about the videos - I love the way that with Duene's you see how careful and precise he is and yet still manages to achieve the painterly effect. Duane is the only person who makes me feel that maybe, just maybe, I could pick up a brush again! ;)

I agree with Rose about 'start a blog'. I know I've learned so much more since I started to write down what I do and how I learn. You know that thing about writing it down makes it sink in.........

Ditto re Charley Parker plus I know the Charles Sovek site and have certainly recommended it to others.

I was a huge supporter of Wet Canvas when I got started with art on the internet - but I have to say that I think I've learned much more in two years in the blogosphere - albeit I've had the benefit of a small group of cyberchums at the same time.

My recommendation would always be to to explore the links in the right hand column and in blog posts. Check out people's blogs and websites, read their blog posts - there's an awful lot of people sharing out there.

Plus let's have a special mention for the museums and art galleries who've got an awful lot better at sharing in the last 2-3 years. I'm going to be posting next week about a website supporting an exhibition which is absolutely stunning!

Casey Klahn said...

An honor to be in such hefty (thematic) company. My thanks, FQOTW.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Kelly - yes, those youtube videos are fascinating and very informative. I would've listed them but I have dial-up and don't get to watch them as often as I would like.

Rose - good point!

Teresa - there is definitely an alien baby in all of us! I'm answering your question in tonight's blog.

Dougie - absolutely!

Holly -- I know. I'll still cringe over pieces I did just last year.

Lorrie - what a really nice comment!

Robyn - I can't say enough good things about WC!

Katherine & Casey - my thanks is to you guys!

Anima said...

Wetcanvas has also been an invaluable resource for me and I recommend it to every artist I meet. I usually stick to the business or oil pastel section but I'll have to pay closer attention to the critiques from now on.

Actually, it was on wetcanvas in art business that I first found out about you.