You are about to begin a wonderful journey into a whole new world of seeing and experiencing and communicating, by adding art classes to your life. You may think of communication as being primarily verbal. But if you think about it for a moment, art is also a form of communication. It is a visual communication.
Art is a visual language.
First get your basics
Just as with any language we need to first learn some basics before we can successfully communicate, so it is with art. First learn the basic how to’s so you can successfully impart your message onto a piece of paper or a canvas.
It is all learnable stuff!
There really isn’t an infinite amount of knowledge about how to draw and paint, as some people think.There is only a finite amount of information that is quite easy to learn if you take one step at a time.
Take the time you need
As you go through your training, be sure to give yourself the time you need to thoroughly understand the concepts and tools given to you. If you do, you will be sure to experience success. Small classes are best with no more than six per class.
Want it all, right now!
In the fast pace of today’s world, with instant gratification promised and expected at every turn, it is not unusual to be in a hurry to get it all right now and expect to be able to apply it all perfectly the very first time you learn something new.
If you find yourself feeling hurried or pressured, take a deep breath (do this often anyway ~ it’s a great way to release tension) and allow yourself the freedom to move at a pace that feels good to you, feeling sure about each step before moving on to the next one.
Long and short range goals
Be clear about the difference between long and short range goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you are faced with removing a huge bolder from your path (the analogy here is the huge task of removing obstacles to your progress) it is better to chip away at it regularly until it is not there any more, rather than try to lift it up all at once to get a glimpse of the road ahead, only to have it all come crashing down on you.
What I’m saying is, when faced with the huge task of overcoming obstacles along the way, pace yourself, take your time and set reasonable goals for each class as well as your long range goals. A good art class should be designed to give you clear goals for each class.
How long should it take?
Whatever time you need to feel very comfortable with the information given is the right amount of time to take. You will only be slowing down your progress by rushing or feeling in a hurry to get to “the good stuff”. Believe it or not, the basics are the good stuff! In my classes learning to draw well is the first step to painting well. You’ll just be using a brush later on. But you will still be using all the information from the very first class all the way along.
The basics will be used for the rest of your life as an artist, every time you sit to draw and paint.The basics are essential in developing your artistic expression in any and all other mediums later on.
I don’t know “how”
Feel good about the fact that you are now ready to open up to valuable new information that will allow you to be self-sufficient as an artist. You are not supposed to already know how to do this or that. It is important to find a capable teacher that can teach you the basics.
Open to receiving
The position of being a “student” is a somewhat humbling one, but it does put us in the position of being able to receive new information.
I heard a lecture once by a minister who was talking about his sister, and explaining what he saw as four stages of gaining mastery in any particular field. She was an aspiring artist, and came to the realization that she needed to find a good teacher.
He went on to say, before that point, she was unconsciously incompetent. She didn’t even know that she didn’t know.
At the point she realized she needed a teacher, she was consciously incompetent. She knew she didn’t know, and it was from that position she could allow herself to be open to new information.
After some time training with a capable instructor, she applied the information she was given, and she became consciously competent. Then, after investing more time and attention to painting, she became unconsciously competent.
His point was that true mastery can be achieved in any arena if you have someone to show you the way (i.e. a good teacher) and a strong desire to carry you through.
Take responsibility for your own pace
The Socratic method of teaching, originating in ancient Greece, required that the student ask questions of the teacher, drawing the knowledge from the teacher rather than the teacher feeding information to the student. It is a form of education that gives more responsibility to the student than perhaps some of us are used to. But this method of self-paced learning does yield much faster results. You will want to choose a teacher and/or school that allows you to ask questions if you are unclear about anything at any time or need help.
Evaluating your progress
The best way to evaluate your progress is to compare your previous work in class to the work you are doing presently in class. In other words, don’t compare yourself to someone else in the class. It is very unfair to yourself to do that and will only slow down your progress. Different people come to classes with very different backgrounds and experience in the arts.
Another thing that will speed up your progress is to acknowledge where you are as being just the right place, given the exposure you’ve had to the basics of art.
Acknowledge what you learn in each class. Keep your drawings dated consecutively to see your progress over time.
Focused yet relaxed
We are going for balance here. If you watch children deeply involved in learning something new, they are very focused, yet relaxed and open at the same time. A light and playful attitude will move you forward very quickly. On the other hand, your drawings can be very light and loose without being sloppy and inaccurate. We want to be carefree, not careless!
What is expected from you
In my classes I would expect you to come to class on time. Come fresh, rested and properly nourished. Take one step at a time. Ask for help whenever you feel you need it. Don’t compare yourself to others. Keep your drawings simple and stay away from details. Move on as soon as you know you understand and can use the information covered. Acknowledge your progress.