Being self taught was something I’d always considered a badge of honour, but there is always the concern – am I going about things the right way.
In reality, self taught doesn’t mean learning in a vacuum but instead you are responsible for your own motivation, drive and deciding on what external resources to base your learning on.
The shear amount of material available both in books and online makes it a bit of a crap-shoot on where to focus your limited time and energy. The last thing you want to do is spend a heap of time developing techniques and ingraining them if they just turns out to be someone else’s bad habits.
Also it is often difficult when basing your learning on reference books to know if you have actually correctly grasp the concept so to have the author looking over your shoulder (or a community of peers working through the same exercises) to give you feedback would be a luxury many of us don’t have. Of course this is the advantage of attending a formal art school but the cost for this is generally quite large and you are generally forced to follow the timetable and curriculum fixed by the school itself.
What I really needed was a way to structure my learning to fit within my timetable, finances and interests while offering a community orientated experience with opportunities for constructive feedback.
Enter the Watts Atelier of the Arts.
I first stumbled across the Watts Atelier of the Arts while perusing some videos on YouTube and coincidentally heard its founder Jeffery Watts speak as a guest on a number of different podcasts I happened to be listening to at the time (seemed like one of those strange serendipitous moments where life repeatedly bashes you over the head to make sure you are seeing what is right in front of your nose).
The Watts Atelier of the Arts, founded back in 1992, is modeled after nineteenth-century European Ateliers and strives to uphold the motto, “Preserving the Tradition of the Masters.” The school is recognised the world over as one of the truly great destinations for learning the pure craft of drawing and painting in the traditional methods of the great art institutions of the past.
In late 2013 Jeffery Watts launched an online version of the Atelier and gave access to art training to those who could not physically attend the Atelier in Encinitas, California. With the ability to take courses at your own pace and in your own time (and in any order), student forums, assignments and graded feedback this fit in with exactly where I feel I am at at the moment in my learning. There is a strong focus on getting the drawing fundamentals right before introducing painting techniques, and it is encouraged that you go back and return to completed courses regularly to continue to ingrain the principles and methods presented.
So that being said, I’ve enrolled into the online program and are looking forward to seeing how my skills develop as I work through aspects of the program.
On-wards and upwards.