Does this sound familiar to you? One day you just decided that even though you might not have colored since grammar school, you are going to give it a go again. Why not? You are seeing all sorts of colorful art each time you take a stroll on the internet. So off to the store to buy some paper, pencils and maybe a marker or two (dozen). When you get back home you unload your treasures, look at a pristine sheet of white paper while thinking “now what”.
I suspect this is when you determined that a coloring class was in your immediate future. But where are you going to do that? Today, odds are that will be online. But the good news is there are no shortages of classes available from free to not-so-free.
That’s what I did. I started by taking a few free classes and watched several YouTube videos, but it wasn’t long before I figured out something was missing. No matter what I was doing, I wasn’t getting the results I thought I should (aka my project doesn’t look at all like the class sample). So back to the internet for another stroll. As I would look around, I was consistently attracted to a particular style of Copic marker art (though I didn’t know yet what an art style even meant). I found myself returning to the same website with this art. So, I decided I would give up the free classes and enroll in a serious coloring course.
That was the best thing I could have done. Even though it wasn’t a “live” class, the course came with instructor critiques and feedback. It was almost better than a live class because I could work at my own pace and when I finished a project, I would post it. The instructor would steer me in the right direction if I was going off track. That feedback is something that never happens with a free course or watching a YouTube video.
I had hit the coloring class jackpot. I was learning, growing my art skills, and loving the challenges it presented to me. The day finally came though when I had colored all the courses available from this instructor. What was I to do now? There were many times that I had heard the instructor tell her students that they needed to outgrow her. Had I done that? Was it time to move on?
I was back to the internet for another art class stroll . . . there are so many to choose from. I started to move away from coloring with Copic markers and concentrate more on colored pencils. So, this time I was looking for more in-depth colored pencil training. As a result, I did a mix of in-person and online classes.
Everything I had done with my first instructor was truly a foundation for what I was now exploring. But now I was learning to use my colored pencils in a totally different way. Instead of being used just for details, they are being used for the entire painting.
Recently I started to watercolor. Yes, you guessed it, back to the internet to find a watercolor class. This time I wanted to find a class that took me from the very beginning. I want to learn about the water as well as the paints. I am now smart enough to know that I need to understand the fundamentals of water, paper, paint before I jump into a project.
I’ve been fortunate to find wonderful instructors in all three of these mediums. They all have increased my knowledge and love of creating art. They remind me of music. As we know there are eight notes in a musical scale and just 72 keys on a piano. Yet, one musician combines these notes and what comes out of the piano is country music, another uses the same notes to play contemporary music, and even another uses these same notes to create classical music at the piano. That’s what my instructors all do, they make amazing art. Their styles and mediums might be different, or even cross over, but the underlying fundamentals (like music notes) of art are in each one.
Each of my instructors not only has their unique art style, but they also have a unique teaching style too. If I had found my latest colored pencil instructor at the start of my coloring experience I would have quit. The way she presents her materials would have been way over my head. But not today. I can blend all the things I’ve learned from all my instructors to make sense out of something that might be challenging me now.
So, are you wondering if I outgrew my first instructor? The answer is no. As my art skills continue to grow, I go back to my coloring roots because I hear and interpret old lessons in a new way. Those old lessons are a lot like an instruction manual that comes with something you just bought and don’t have a clue how to use. The instructions get better with time and experience.
I think multiple instructors are a great way to grow. You experience art from many perspectives that way. If nothing else, you might learn a new way to apply old techniques. It might even re-invigorate your desire to create. Or you might find that you have a new medium that is more exciting than the last. Then before you know it, you might be blending them all together creating something that’s never been done before.
Speaking of which, time for me to decide, will I practice my digital art or is it back to my watercolors this afternoon?
What's happening in the Corner . . .
Did you make a New Year's resolution to put coloring back into your life? But now you aren't sure where to start? Why not join with fellow colorers as we focus our attention on creating more realism in our projects as we put the "value" of color into our practice as we start the new year.
If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Value here.
You can see more of my work or follow me on Instagram.