Is it Worth Paying for Art Classes?

I hear lots of reasons why people don’t want to do art classes despite wanting to learn to draw and paint.  Lets look at some of the reasons why people won’t pay for art tuition and discuss each one.

Art is Too Expensive 

I understand concerns about the expense of learning to draw and paint, however I find that lots of beginner learners overestimate the cost of materials when they start my courses. I can understand how suddenly receiving a long materials list  is quite disturbing, even more so if you go into some art stores and see the sheer amount of materials and tools, books etc. available.

The complaint from one learner seemed to be that she had already paid a lot for the course and she couldn’t afford the materials as well.  Some subjects require tools, you can’t do art without pencils and paints so you have to accept this.  All practical subjects will come with an extra cost of materials but there are always extra costs in all courses, like text books, exam fees etc. with all subjects.  If you have a strict budget always check if art materials are included in the course and ask if there will be extra costs involved.  Be aware that even if art materials are included in the price of the course you might not like the materials available and want to have your own materials.

Hard-backed Sketchpad
Keep the materials simple at first

My advice is at first keep it simple, you can buy materials as you go along and all you need at first is a good sketchpad and some pencils.  The problem is when you go to an art class some tutors will tell you that you need to buy everything and almost always the most expensive versions.  If the cost of materials concerns you my advice is to start with a drawing course where the costs will be a bit more limited.

Something for Nothing 

I meet many learners who want a really cheap art course, unfortunately like most things in life you pay for what you get.  As a tutor I can’t charge under a certain price for my private classes if I want to cover my costs.  The tutor will have to cover the cost of the hire of the venue, spare materials for students and for demonstrations, paper handouts and many more hidden costs.  I haven’t met an art tutor yet who is teaching for the money and many are doing it because they want to help people and share their skills.

I am always surprised how much art tuition is undervalued as a skill and how some expect it to be so cheap.  Many pay £1,000’s to do a degree in art (where you often will get less instruction and one to one help) but when it comes to a short art course somehow this same knowledge and skill usually from a highly qualified tutor is completely undervalued.

I can Teach Myself!

There is some truth to this because there are a host of online courses, demonstrations, blogs and websites to help you online now.  However it will take a lot of discipline to work regularly on learning to draw and paint on your own.   An art class will give you a regular space to progress and valuable tuition.

I am all for learning online because I know how many can’t get to or don’t want to go to art classes but art classes you attend with others do have their advantages. The most important thing that you will be missing in art classes is the one-to-one feedback on your work (rather than some general feedback on an online course) and the chance to learn from others.

Can you really teach yourself?  Many say this but don’t have the discipline to give themselves regular tasks.  If you know that you are motivated and are the sort of person who can teach yourself then this is great but I haven’t met many learners who can do this.

There are many who don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to learning to draw and paint, if this is you then surely a class is what you need to get you started? I have met many learners who have spent years trying to teach themselves with books and online blogs.  I think this is a good thing but when it comes to starting out a short course could save you a lot of time in giving you that first step.

Can I teach myself?
Can I teach myself?

The Right Class

There is no doubt that some art classes are extremely expensive and it is only right that many question the value.  I think the tutor is very important, you not only want one that has skill and knowledge but one that makes the learning fun and enjoyable.

I started a textiles evening class and enjoyed the work but the tutor was so bossy that after the first three classes I decided to drop out.  Her knowledge and skills were excellent but after a stressful day at work I just couldn’t face being ‘told off’ for not having done the homework every week.

I have also been in art classes where I felt I didn’t really get taught anything.  Yes I learnt from doing and trying things out and seeing others but the tutor rarely came around the classroom to see what I was doing. There is no doubt that the tutor can make a learning experience fun or just a chore to turn up every week.

Tuition is valuable skills and knowledge being passed on
Tuition is valuable skills and knowledge being passed on

The Value of Tuition 

Don’t underestimate the value of your tutor even if you don’t like some aspects of their classes, they are bound to have a wealth of skills and experience you can learn from. Don’t be afraid to make the most of their expertise by asking them questions and ask for help and guidance when you need it.

One of the reasons why some don’t think art classes are worth it is because they are not putting the skills into practice straight away.  There is something I have learnt about learning and that is that I like to learn what I need to know, when I need to know it.  If you are painting a landscape then you will use the lessons on composition, viewpoints etc. and put it into practice straight away.

Many sign up for the art class to see what it is all about and never use the skills and knowledge they gain ever again.  Before long they have forgotten what they were shown and when they look back they question if it was all worth it.  The art class can only give you the tools to get started and you will have to do the rest for yourself. The ones who succeed are those that take when they learnt and starting using it immediately.

I don’t think there is a yes or no answer to are art classes worth it but on the whole I would say yes.  It does depend how you use the experiences though, if you are ready to put your full commitment into the classes to get the best out of them.

Also see my post What are the Signs of a Good Art Class?

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