There is a lot of art instruction on the internet these days. Some are informative and even inspiring. Others do not adequately cover the content or you may find it difficult to follow the instructions. Some have too many ads that you have to click on them to find the topic or lessons you want. Others are simplistic, simplify instruction, offer very little information, and make the student feel cheated or bored.
Where some arts instruction websites offer many areas of study, for example painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking, others may offer only one area, drawing for example. The variety of topics presented does not necessarily guarantee the quality of the website. But how can you tell a good art learning website from a bad one, especially when you’re not that familiar with the topics to begin with?
Here’s a guide: a checklist to help you choose a good website, one that is easily understandable and presents a rewarding learning experience for you.
* Does the website offer what it says it does? Believe it or not, many don’t. For example, if they say they offer free lessons, are the lessons really free or is there a hidden “registration fee” or some other type of charge for accessing the information?
* Can you easily find the lessons you want to take or do you have to click multiple ads to do so? Often the content of the lessons on this type of website lacks quality because the website is simply a tool for monetization.
* Is the instruction rich in information, presented clearly and in a step-by-step format? Many websites offer a wealth of information that is difficult to follow and leaves the student confused as to the next learning step. You want to be able to easily follow the instructions and have a chance to fully understand the specific information before moving on to the next step. It is of no help to you if the instruction assumes that you know a certain area of study and ignores it, leaving you with many unanswered questions.
* Are there photographs or videos that show you specific processes, techniques, and work examples for that particular area of study? There are several websites that offer lessons with absolutely no visual reference. For the visual arts, this is like offering a cooking course without having access to a working kitchen!
* Is there a facility that offers interaction with the instructors on the website? Can you contact a real teacher by email or phone if you have any questions about their learning process? And, can you submit images of your artwork in progress for a review?
* Be careful with “How to draw A —” websites. Why? Because although a website may offer clear and concise instructions on how to draw a nose, this is a “quick and dirty” approach to the skill of drawing. Where, in fact, you can learn to draw a nose, you will eventually want to draw a mouth, eyes, lips, etc. A quality art instruction website can teach you basic drawing skills that will allow you to draw anything. The approach to “how to draw a nose” is similar to “How to build a shed” in showing how to join two boards.
* Good artists are not necessarily good instructors. Websites that showcase an artist’s beautiful work and then offer their instruction, whether it’s through e-books, online subscriptions, or workshops, mean you’ll be able to paint like them in no time. This approach is similar to the diet promoted by the slim and beautiful young woman who talks about how quickly and easily she lost thirty pounds. Look for testimonials from students who have received lessons from the artist / instructor. Look for examples of student work, especially if you are paying tuition.
* Does the website offer a specific art supplies package for each course? However, does the website specifically define what you will need for your lessons before instruction? In art, this is very important. Poor materials perform poorly, and often the visual effects you are trying to achieve cannot be achieved with poor quality or simply the wrong materials and media. Art is a close dialogue between the eye, the hand and the materials. You bring your good pair of eyes and eager hands to the drill. It is the instructor’s responsibility to provide clear and concise information on the materials you will need for each lesson.
* On the other hand, carefully examine the curriculum of a website that offers elaborate packages of art supplies, for example, beautiful polished wooden boxes with oil paints, extremely expensive brushes and canvases, etc. Compare what they ask you to buy with similar supplies offered by your local art supply store or reputable online art supply houses.
* Question any type of “certificate or degree” that indicates that you are now an accredited artist or expert in a certain field of study, especially if you have paid for your instruction. While your achievement is worthy and should make you feel good, learning art, like any other area of study, should not be limited by assumed experience. You always need to improve your skills and develop new ones on your way to becoming an artist.
* Finally, find a mode of instruction that is compatible with your personality. Students who are aligned with their instructor learned best; faster and easier. And an instructor should be one you admire, inspire and advise you every step of the way. The art learning experience is above all joyful and inspiring!