The idea for this post came to me because I have over the years realised that there is one key ingredient that prepares students for an art class or course. When a course starts I can see those that are prepared and those that aren’t and the key is in being prepared to learn.
When I was at school being ‘prepared to learn’ meant having a pen and pencil. Of course this is important but I am referring to something even more important which is having the right attitude to learn.
There are some practical things you can do to prepare yourself for the art class of course like sketching things and keeping a sketchpad everyday. Any type of drawing experience will really help you get a head start, particularly if you are drawing from real life rather than secondary sources.
I meet students and learners who have prepared in terms of getting all the equipment and materials. This isn’t always necessary because sometimes these learners don’t buy the right things so it can be best to wait to find out more from your tutor. I wouldn’t advise starting an art course without a pencil though! This does happen now and then.
The best students I remember were not necessarily the most talented ones, they have been the ones who have absolutely relished the experience of learning and not taken one minute for granted. I refer to these students and learners has ‘having caught the bug’ and you can see the light in their eyes when they talk about what they are doing and going to do. They say things like ‘I saw a tree today lit up by the golden sun and I want to paint it’. Once you are seeing things you are wanting to draw and paint you have ‘caught the bug’ and have the eyes of an artist.
A few learners come to mind who have been very inspiring for the rest of the class, their enthusiasm being infectious. These students also seem to share a kind of light heartedness where if things go wrong it is all part of the process. They don’t take their work too seriously and by this I don’t mean they don’t care about their work, but for them ‘mistakes’ are part of the exciting process of creating.
Some learners who have not been in education for many years can be particularly anxious regarding starting an art course. It is like walking into the unknown which is for most of us, particularly as we get older find intimidating. I can relate to this having been a ‘mature student’ in my 30’s I felt like a fish out of water around mainly young twenty year olds. This anxiety can manifest itself with learners getting very concerned about not having the ‘correct’ yellow because they couldn’t get it in the art shop before the course started as it was out of stock. This is why I don’t as a tutor give out specific material lists that are exacting, because I have seen the unease it creates when a learner can’t get hold of a specific colour of paint.
Getting things into perspective before you start an art course is a good idea. As long as you are ready to learn, have some pencils and a sketchbook, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t have the ‘lemon yellow’ on the materials list before you start or have read all the books on the book list!
See the course as a journey, you can start as prepared as you can be but most of what you learn will be during the course. You will learn what materials are best to buy, how to apply the paint etc. Some learners want to know everything before they start the course. This really isn’t necessary, so take a deep breath, be open to learning and take your first step forward!