Self-Educating Moves To Art

Today ends my month of blogging on self-education. I still have lots to say and still more to think about. Those among you who make it a habit of taking up a self-educating project now and then, or even consistently, may also have a long line of credits to assimilate–congratulations.

For those of you who have undertaken some self-educating you may have learned a lot about many different subjects, most of which you barely thought about during your many years of formal education.  More than once you may have been surprised that you taught yourself a really useful skill, which you then used to do something you had never before been able to do, or thought you would ever be able to do. These may have even been “ah-ha” moments.

In the next month I will talk about art on my blog. Posts will focus on many different perspectives, but what brings it all together for me and connects it with the June emphasis on self-education is that almost everything I know about art I taught myself.

The reason I have to say almost is that I did take a course at the local College of Life Long Learning on colored pencil techniques. I did advance my knowledge of how to draw with colored pencils, but I knew a great deal to begin with. Still, it was a worthwhile class as are most short art classes and workshops where one always learns by doing. Sometimes, maybe actually most times, you don’t learn a great deal from the instructor. Art teachers are notoriously supportive. Maybe it’s that they think quite correctly that comparing you to Degas or Picasso would be unfair, and it is. Still they tend to always say “really excellent” to keep you feeling good about your work and moving forward. It’s not a strategy I really want to be critical about.

I’ve also taken one-day–sometimes just for the fraction of an afternoon–workshops in water colors and in chalks. I also took a one-week class in sketching with pens and pencils. Each time you take a class or a workshop you learn a little more, but the really valuable part is learning from someone with much more practical expertise than you may possess. You learn much about how to approach the art form featured in the workshop both from a technical as well as a philosophical perspective. The valuable part of workshops is that you tend to finish very little and just concentrate on technique which the instructor can critique more effectively, indeed, because these are fragments which are not yet completed works.

Thus, during July I will write a post each day about some aspect of art that I personally know something about.

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