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Does anyone draw anymore? With a high definition camera on every phone and a phone in every pocket, we’re relying less and less on art and design on a daily basis. In fact, once we’ve left school many of us don’t draw at all! This means that those who are motivated to develop their art and design skills have a lot to gain.
A common myth about art and design is that you’re either naturally good at it or you’re not, and of course there’s some truth in that: some people have more instinctive abilities than others. But like any subject or skill, natural talent will only get you so far – dedication, hard work and motivation are the key ingredients to progressing further and creating beautiful artwork.
There’s more to art and design to just producing a pretty picture or sculpture, although that’s a good enough reason to get practising! Whether you’ve just left university or are facing retirement, an education in art and design can be an asset to both your professional and personal life!
In their early years, children are encouraged to take up activities such as drawing, painting and making sculptures to develop and maintain their fine motor skills, coordination and dexterity. These benefits aren’t unique to children and many adults find that drawing and painting helps them to maintain agility in their hands into old age too.
Art and design can also be a therapy. Recent years have seen a rise in adult colouring books and many more adults choose to create their artwork from scratch for relaxation and creative expression. For some drawing increases their concentration and helps them to work through an idea or problem, for others it reduces stress and anxiety. When words aren’t enough, art and design can be a release; you can learn a lot about yourself in the process.
Studying art and design isn’t just about creating your own works of art, but about studying historically important events, societal movements and people too. Whether you’re studying fine art or fashion, impressionism or the Renaissance, a training in the arts will encourage you to expand your world view by considering the perspectives of others.
Of course, you could search the internet for works of art – Instagram is an incredible resource for artists and illustrators alike – but the UK has an incredible heritage in art and design too, all of which is displayed in galleries and art houses across the country. By learning about the contexts in which works were created and their reception from the general public, you’ll be able to understand the intentions of artists like Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet. This will help you to think critically about other works, as well as inspiring your own creative expression.
Many choose to study art and design because it has a direct application to their dream job. It goes without saying that a good level of art and design will come in handy if creating artwork is your vocation, such as for illustrators, graphic designers, comic book artists, theatre set designers, museum curators, TV producers, fashion designers or tattoo artists. Architects are required to have an excellent standard of art and design, as are inventors.
For those on other career paths, artistic training equips you with transferable skills that will come in handy no matter your profession. Through painting, sculpture, or drawing you can learn to think out of the box when resolving problems, communicating or working in a team.
What’s beautiful about art and design is that there is no one way to learn, although this can add an extra challenge when you’re taking your first steps – where on earth do you start?
How you study may also depend on what your goals are. Quite often budding artists will start by learning to draw, starting with simple drawings of everyday objects, the human body or different landscapes. It’s important at this stage to break down different elements of the picture and practise getting each bit spot on.
But it’s not quite so simple as just drawing a face or a landscape – each style comes with its own techniques! When drawing the human form, you may start by drawing out geometric shapes to help you get the simple outline right. For a landscape you might familiarise yourself with vanishing points and horizon lines before putting pencil to paper. Finally, composing an engaging drawing or painting also involves some understanding of the seven principles of design: balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm and unity/variety. Without these visual tools, creating a successful composition will be a matter of pure luck.
And that’s before we even start experimenting with materials! A pencil drawing on paper can be complicated enough, but what about when we begin to add texture with charcoal and paints, experiment with different canvasses or even create sculptures and or fashion pieces. Each of these materials come with its own techniques that you must learn and master, even if you choose to reject them as you develop your own style.
For those who wish to pursue a career related to art (illustration, comic book art, graphic design, architecture), creating digital art on programmes such as Illustrator is central to their training. Students should not only be able to use the programme, but to use it quickly and fluently. The best way to develop these skills is to practise, practise, practise, but extra guidance from tutorials online will help to set your in the right direction.
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that no matter your subject or your materials, perseverance and practise are key to success as an artist. And yes, you even have to practise the stuff you’re not so good at (that’s how you improve, after all!)
There’s a certain freedom to just learning by yourself and forging your own path through your artistic journey. Moreover it’s certainly possible to learn independently thanks to technology.
Youtube tutorials are incredibly useful for learning new skills, as are books, magazines, blogs and online forums. But there are drawbacks to learning independently… How do you stay motivated to keep pursuing your studies week upon week? Who do you direct your questions to? Who gives you honest and helpful feedback on your artwork and picks up on your bad habits?
Whether you’re learning on a graphics tablet or an easel, why not learn the fundamental techniques of art and design with a tutor?
An art tutor will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, give you constructive, unbiased and honest feedback (which is worth its weight in gold), and monitor your progress to help you stay motivated. In addition, and art tutor will draw on their vast experience to introduce you to artists that they think you might find inspirational or interesting, help you to master new methods and techniques, and share their insights into the art world. What’s more, many learners find that regular lessons help them to stick at a new skill in those first few months when it’s easy to give up.
How you and your tutor work together depends on your choice of learning environment. Many adult learners attend weekly evening classes where they learn to draw or paint as part of a group. Having mastered the fundamentals independently, you may choose to enrol in an intensive course to develop a specific skill, style or technique, and some aspiring artists choose to learn more informally in drop-in sessions with experts. Group courses are ideal for meeting like-minded people and getting feedback on your work, but some learners might feel frustrated when the class moves at the wrong pace or focuses on periods and styles irrelevant to their goals.
For most learners, 1:1 lessons are the most efficient and enjoyable way to study art and design. Without a group to manage, the tutor has more time to dedicate to your education. Not only does this mean you can set the pace for the class, but the methodology itself is tailored to your interests, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses - you have control over your learning.
There are multiple avenues you can follow in search of a tutor: online listings ( like Gumtree), community centres, community notice boards, schools, universities, art groups… But let us propose Superprof as an option.
On Superprof we have over 1200 art and design teachers with diverse vocational backgrounds: from fashion to architecture and set design, pattern cutters and sewing experts to illustrators. You can search our tutor database according to what matters to you, be it learning style, budget or location. The profiles are easy to compare: read each tutor’s methodology and experience or recommendations from past students to help you make your decision. Many tutors even offer the first lesson for free so that you can test the water, whereas others offer group lessons at a discounted rate so that you can learn alongside a friend.
So whether you’re interested in painting, drawing, sculpture or collage. Whether you’re pursuing a career in illustration or just looking for a new way to express yourself. Search Superprof for a tutor today and release your inner Cezanne!