I was horrible at drawing classes. The teacher would always teach things that didn’t interest me. Perspective, shading, vases of frickin’ flowers… I HATED that. And sucked at it too. Or rather, I didn’t even really try. The thing was, I wanted EXPRESS myself. I wanted to tell stories and to convey emotions and  atmospheres…didn’t care about the technical side of things too much. And frankly, I still don’t.

But if you resist drawing lessons so strongly, then how do you learn to draw? Because, let’s face it…only practice and training will get you there. I found out I’m only receptive to learning the technical side of the matter when I need a technique to express what I want to express. So, I seek those lessons when I need them by learning from other artists. A lot of it is self-study, like I showed in my last post. But the other part is mostly online classes. Like this little painting…that’s MY painting (those of you who know me, will recognize the protagonist!), but totally somebody else’s style, which I learned in an online class.

After having been practically paintless for a few months, I wanted to do something totally different…just to get that spark to get moving. I chose an online course by The Secret Hermit. Most artists keep their secrets to themselves, but more and more artists are sharing it in online classes. It’s so fascinating to see in detail and without constraint how somebody else paints…really makes your fingers itch. My oldest daughter was immediately captivated by The Secret Hermit’s videos and before I knew it, she fetched a chair and a canvas and sat herself down right beside me. We painted together for two days…

I love online courses. Not only do they allow me to sit in the comfort (preferably in peejays) of my own studio, I can also choose courses that teach things I want to learn or that seem great fun to me. I really enjoyed The Secret Hermit’s course! Her style is so different from what I do. It’s not a style I will carry through in my journals and paintings as a whole. But what I do at such courses, is that I loosen up towards my own style after a drawing or painting or two. The third painting in my journal already heads much more towards my own style and therefore feels a lot more like my OWN.

You know what it is…in doing these online courses, little things will
remain with me from every course. It’s like studying other people’s
illustrations like I showed in my last post. It’s not copying or runnig
off with somebody else’s work. It’s studying their signature, learning
from them and perhaps incorporating aspects of them into your own
work.
However, no matter how great it is to compose your own curriculum, there lurks one big danger in this approach. In this day and age, we’re bombarded with images by others. And when you look into the work of others to inspire your own too much, your work dissolves into thin air because it gets a collection of elements you borrow from others. A collection of tricks and techniques. And that’s seriously killing for your own inspiration.
So, if you take online courses or study other people’s work…take time outs during which you don’t look at other people’s work but experiment freely and focus on your own completely to safeguard your OWN creative energy. ‘Cause if you don’t, you might end up limiting yourself to copycatting, burning out or losing yourself in the discovery of one fantastic artist after another because there is simply too much out there…
As for me, I took two online classes this year…I studied 3 illustrations into detail and I looked at a giganormous amount of inspiring artwork. This week I feel that I’ve reached this point of satiation where I need to return home, to my SELF. It’s been fun, but this is enough. So yesterday I took out my watercolours again…and graphitints…and just sat with them for an hour…seeing what would grow under my hands. And it felt really, really good.
As for The Secret Hermit‘s class I did? It’s lovely! I highly recommend it for anyone who’d love to learn to paint with acrylics and who loves to paint doll-like figures. Her classes are affordable and the teachers shares her skills generously and provides ample technique to use in journals and paintings. This course is okay for beginners because paintings are shown all the way from beginning to end with good explanation. But it’s lovely for more experienced people as well who like to try this totally specific, whimsical style. For those in Europe who consider taking one of her classes…make sure you put your order in before 1 January because the EU has changed VAT/BTW laws and it may no longer be possible after that date…