I know of lots of people who can’t get to art classes even though they would like to so they are often asking me, can I teach myself to draw and paint?
The answer to this question will depend on you; your commitment, attitude, motivation and the time you have to put into it. Despite having been through an art education myself I would say that it is possible to teach yourself art. I am not devaluing art education in anyway (as an Art Tutor I wouldn’t want to do this!) but I do think it is possible and many self-taught artists have proved it is possible.
A Wealth of Resources
Now more than ever it is possible because of the wealth of resources out there that are available at a click of a mouse. You don’t even have to leave the house to find examples of artists work, advice, forums for self-taught artists, tutorials and more. This is one of the great things about living in the information age, we can all acquire knowledge and skills much more easily. There are also hundreds of books and magazines on the topic. Visit my Resources page if you would like to see the great resources I found for those wanting to teach themselves.
Something inspiring to bear in mind for all those self-taught artists out there is that there are a surprising number of very well-known artists who taught themselves! LS Lowry (featured in photo), Vincent Van Gogh, Jasper Johns to name a few.
There are many challenges in teaching yourself however, I am going to share a few tips to bear in mind:
No Instant Results
This is the case whether you are having classes or not. Art isn’t a subject where results are instant, part of the creative process is that your work is evolving. The process never ends, there is always more to learn, experienced artists are still learning. Art is like a craft, it takes years to perfect our skills. There are technical skills, observational skills and creative skills involved and the learning never ends, be prepared to embark on a life-long journey of discovery.
Frustration seems to be a by-product of learning to draw and paint. The important thing is to not let this stop you. The best artists are not necessarily the ones who are the most talented, they are the ones who didn’t give up. Keep going when the going gets tough and keep doing something every day, week or month.
Importance of Sharing
Teaching yourself can be an isolating experience. Fortunately these days there are forums to share work online so you can get feedback and see others work. It is important to share work and get feedback, this is a scary idea for many but there is only so much we can learn in isolation.
If you are serious about selling your work in galleries you may encounter a bit of snobbery regarding being ‘self-taught’. Unfortunately in my experience snobbery does exist in the art world but things are changing, your work should speak for itself if it is good enough then be confident about it.