When it comes to my art . . . am I really self-taught?

Updated: Nov 14


Just recently I found myself thinking a lot about the artistic adventure I’ve been on since I picked up my first Copic marker in late 2016. At that point in time, I was simply a crafter that decided to dabble with markers. It wasn’t long before I was searching the internet to figure out how one uses these markers. It became obvious to me that I must have been living under a rock at that point because Copic marker art was all over the internet.

I don’t know what attracted anyone else to these markers, but for me it was how they were used to shade images. It seemed that all the samples I came across had beautifully blended shadows. I had no idea how to recreate any of what I was seeing here. However, someone convinced me it was the marker that made this magic, not the person holding the marker. Okay, I know, but I fell for it anyway and purchased even more markers.

After a while, I decided that I had been sold a bill of goods about these markers. Just because I had it in my hand, it didn’t mean they would blend all on their own. The person holding the markers had to be involved. Very involved. So off I went and found some classes to see if that would help me. Then I searched out even more classes. Then I took even more classes. Then it happened . . . I was officially hooked on coloring.

Though I was now hooked, I wasn’t just coloring for the sake of coloring, I only wanted to color things that resembled real life. I was officially introduced to this style that I was told is called “realism”. Unlike when I tried coloring rubber stamped images, there is a special magic when the image I color literally starts to take on a life like form on my paper. To this day that still excites and motivates me to color more.

I would share my projects with family and friends who gave me nice compliments for my work. Over the last couple of years, the compliments started to be accompanied by statements such as, “oh my, you are an incredible artist”. I feel so awkward when anyone says that to me. For one thing isn’t that what family and friends do? I swear that it’s in my mom’s “guidebook for the perfect mother” because she always tells me how great my projects are (she continually denies that this is in her job description as my mom). I try to graciously accept the compliments, but I normally downplay the “artist” comments. I don’t want to be exposed as an art fraud. After all, I have no formal art education and/or background. I’m simply self-taught.

That is when it hit me. I admire the work of many artists. When I find an artist’s work that I like I have never stopped and asked if they are a formally trained artist. If I like their work, their educational background was never anything I even considered. And as it turns out, many of the artists that I follow and respect, they, like me, describe themselves as “self-taught”.

That led to me thinking, why do I tell people I’m self-taught? Is it to lower their expectation of my work or art skills? Probably. But I’m going to try to stop doing this. After all, if someone really enjoys my artwork, why not let them enjoy it without justification or qualification. Plus, I’ve decided that I’m not self-taught either.

A more accurate way to describe myself would be as “self-motivated”. When I realized that I had a passion to color with realism, I wanted to learn all I could. So, when I started taking classes, I was being taught by the instructor. When I bought a book, I was taught by the author. When I shared my artwork with anyone that would offer me constructive feedback, they taught me too.

To all the instructors, authors and critics that have helped me along this adventure, I thank you for helping me become the artist I am today. For those that have been practicing their coloring with me in the Practice Corner, I thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey. Helping you over the past year has also had a measurable impact on my art progress.

If you (like me) feel unworthy of being called an artist because you don’t have a formal art education, here’s my gift to you . . . an official art license.


No longer do we need to fear being pulled over by the art police for creating without a license!


What are you waiting for . . . let’s go color.

What's happening in the Corner . . .


We are now focusing our attention on coloring eyes because it's amazing how something so small can add so much emotion or attention to the image you are coloring. Big or small, there are details that will help you color successful eyes every time.


If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Practice Technique Pack for Eyes here.

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