If you are serious about being an artist, there is no substitute for getting a proper foundational education in the traditional methods. Being a self-taught artist has its limitations as far as being able to learn the correct ways of drawing or painting, handling materials, and how to properly set up a studio for yourself. Although there are a lot of good books and videos available that can fill in some gaps of your art education, there is no substitute for studying the classical foundation skills.
The modern American culture has emphasized that everything must be short and quick, because we are all “too busy”. People constantly look for shortcuts and don’t want to take the time to learn the basics before jumping into executing a drawing or painting “masterpiece”. But a proper art education takes time and much practice. YouTube videos have sped up time-lapse versions of artists executing drawings and paintings that have actually taken many hours, but leaves the viewer with the false impression that good work can be done in just a few minutes. Then, when they try drawing or painting on their own, an aspiring artist can become quite frustrated that they can’t draw or paint as quickly nor as well as what they saw on the videos. They also are not aware of how much training and practice has gone into an artist’s ability to execute that great drawing or painting.
There are no shortcuts to being a great artist – not even for the most talented of individuals – as it takes years of training and constant practice to become really good. Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Sargent, and other great artists spent years in training as well as the constant practice of their craft. Watching a few art videos or reading some art books is not going to catapult any aspiring artist to doing great work with a minimal investment in time, training and practice.
In order to be successful as a self-taught artist, you would need to set up a traditional education plan for yourself that includes the basics of drawing – Bargue and cast drawing – before moving on to the basics of painting. But how many people really have the time, discipline or the knowledge of appropriate training to go through such a self-structured course of study? That is where workshops and ateliers can provide the formal structured art training that can bring your artwork up to a more polished and professional level. It is an investment of time and money (overall much cheaper than a university) that is invaluable for learning the correct methods, seeing as an artist, and how to properly approach a drawing or painting. Unlike a university, an atelier or private art school focuses on just the classical art training you really need.
Up until recently, art education has usually been available only through universities. Many aspiring artists of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s, who wanted to learn the classical methods of the “old masters” and were interested in realistic art, were frustrated to encounter colleges and teachers who de-emphasized drawing skills, while emphasizing only expressionistic or abstract art. It is only within the last 10 years that there has been a proliferation of artist ateliers that offer solid classical art training. If you are not familiar with an “atelier”, it is an artist’s studio or workroom where they teach traditional methods. There are both individual notable artist ateliers, as well as private schools/institutes were several artists teach.
Note: While there are many good videos and some online art “schools”, it is not the same as being immersed in an actual art studio environment. Being able to ask questions, getting individual advice or having your work critiqued by a master artist is invaluable training not possible with video or online art instruction.
Even if you took art in college, taking a class or workshop at one of these ateliers can re-envigorate your work, as well as learning about materials and new techniques. So, if you are serious about being the best artist you can be, you should make an investment of time and money in yourself to learn the traditional foundation skills for drawing and painting. I would recommend finding a contemporary artist whose work you admire, then look them up on the internet to see if they offer classes or find out what school they went to. Below I have listed just a few, although there are many great ateliers and private art schools across the US.
Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier – www.hacaa.org
The Atelier School of Classical Realism- http://atelierschoolofclassicalrealism.net
Scottsdale Artist School – http://scottsdaleartschool.org/
Studio Incamminati – www.studioincamminati.org
The Teaching Studios of Art – http://www.teachingstudios.com
Sadie Valeri Atelier – http://www.sadievaleri.com/classes/
Justin Hess – http://www.jhessfineart.com/#classes
Jeffrey Watts – http://www.wattsatelier.com/
Anthony Ryder – The Ryder Studio – http://www.theryderstudio.com