Education of an Artist

Story Time:

When I was in high school, I had the mistaken idea that once I was done with college, I wouldn’t have to go to worry about getting an education anymore.  I even questioned the value of college because I wanted to be an artist.  Oh, what I didn’t know.  Forty years later, I’m still working on my education.  Happily.

Self Taught Artist:

My friend Sandra Neary recently published a blog post about being a self taught artist.  My circumstances are similar to hers.  I like to say my art education is “self guided”;  I am responsible for my own art education.  I select what I will learn, how I will learn it, and when I will have a learning experience.  I use books, classes and work to guide my learning.

I would suggest that being a self taught artist has its challenges.  How do you know what classes you need?  What do you need to learn how to do?

Personal Insight:

I’d like to share what I have learned.

  • Focus on learning the basics or fundamentals first.  They are the building blocks upon which everything else is learned.  How do you know what the fundamentals are?  Look at experienced artist in the medium of your choosing.  What do they do every time they work?
  • Learn your materials.  For example, a watercolor artist needs to know the strengths, limitations and uses of the different kinds of paints, papers and brushes.
  • Use a combination of workshops, classes, books and time spent with brush in hand to educate yourself.
  • Allow yourself room to explore, fail, and learn some more.  Eventually, you’ll be more targeted or directed in what you want to learn.  You will know what you want to work on.

The funny thing I’ve learned is that I’m still a “student” along side being an experienced artist.  Education is a lifelong process.  The more I learn, the more I see I want to learn.

About the Painting:

The painting posted is one of my new acrylic still life paintings.  I’ve been studying how to draw and paint using the classic, academic approach.  The instructor is artist Sarah Burns.  It is a different way of working when compared with my stylized approach.  What I like is that I’m learning things about drawing and seeing that I didn’t know before.  The painting is done practicing the lessons I’ve learned from Sarah.


To summarize, the best part about being self taught artist is that I’m responsible for my own art education.  And, the learning is an on-going process.

Post Script:

I almost didn’t publish this blog post.  For some reason, I’ve been hesitant in writing and posting blog articles.  I have seven draft blog articles.  Finally, one has to say publish and move on!  Doubt can paralyze.   I do recommend reading Sandra’s blog post.  Maybe you’ll have a thought or two about your own education!

Acrylic over Watercolor 9x7 2015 d'Arches 300lb CP Watercolor Paper
Acrylic over Watercolor
d’Arches 300lb CP Watercolor Paper