Learning on the internet is great. I'm a huge believer in the power of self-directed, solitary, learning... but it's not the whole picture. Art is best learned with human contact. Art school might not be an option for you, but there are plenty of alternatives. Over the next three weeks I'll explore options for your custom-made art education.
Maximize Your Budget
Your goal is to get the most out of your personal budget - be it small or large. If everyone could afford art school, there wouldn't be much of a question. At a high level, there's a correlation between class size and cost. Huge online classes (or videos like the ones on Ctrl+Paint) are inexpensive, and small in-person classes can be quite expensive. With this in mind, your challenge is to attend small classes when it's essential -- and large (cheaper) classes for everything else.
What subjects are small classes essential for?
In my opinion, class size is most important when it comes to foundation studies. Subjects like drawing, composition, and basic painting can be much easier to learn from a real live teacher. If you're totally new to art, these subjects are extremely challenging. In a classroom environment, a good teacher will catch your mistakes. Once you've been alerted to a mistake you can begin to correct the problem. Without a teacher, these mistakes can go unnoticed and quickly turn into bad habits. I can tell you from experience: foundation skills are crucial. Like the foundation of a house, they provide strength for everything that gets built on top. If your budget is tight, focus it on small class-size foundation studies.
A classroom near you
Even without attending art school, there's an art classroom nearer than you think. Most cities in the US offer various levels of art education for adults: community college, and community art centers. If you live near an art school, they probably offer 'continuing education' classes to non degree-seeking students. CCAD in Ohio offers Saturday morning classes, which I was fortunate enough to attend for years before I was college age. It'll take some research on your part, but these are valuable and often overlooked resources. Your local community art center probably offers a basic drawing course - and it's probably affordable. In this situation, you're offered a (relatively) small class size as well as a relatively low price; a great combination.
Note: Make sure to do your research. All community classes aren't created equally. Make sure to read the course description carefully, and investigate the instructor. Is their personal work relevant to your interests? Finding the right community class can be a challenge, but the price often makes it worth the struggle.
Find the balance
In short, aim to focus your resources on face-to-face drawing classes. No matter how digital your final goal might be, traditional art is essential. In the next two blog posts, I'll explore some more local options that won't break the bank. Also, we'd love to hear from you! Have you attended any local classes for traditional studies? Let's hear about it in the comments!