Someone suggested to me recently that I should do a Masters in art, just for my own pleasure. I was taken aback, because I have not had any art training beyond the age of 13 when my parents were keen for me to follow a more academic school career. How can I do anything like a Masters when I don’t have the basics in place?
Pondering on this, I stumbled upon Nicholas Wilton and his Art2Life Creative Visionary Pathway programme. I watched his free videos and read the reviews, all of which seemed to suggest that everyone, regardless of background would benefit creatively from the Art2Life course. The timing seemed fortuitous having had the nudge from my supportive friend about doing a Masters. But even more so now that my perspective on life has shifted since having breast cancer.
The cost of the course was way more than I would ever normally consider, but the more I looked and listened, the more I believed that there was a lot of content in the course and a lot of support. So I took the plunge and drained my bank account (not helped by the Dollar exchange rate), wondering all the time if I had been a fool for signing up. By 2 weeks in, I was not regretting it in the least. 3 weeks and I thought I was getting a lot out of it. 4 weeks and my head was full to bursting. 5 weeks in and I am absolutely convinced this was a really good move, and I relish every moment, even if I have brain ache and permanently paint-filled finger nails.
The course involves weekly webinar/seminars in which you particapate and ask questions, weekly content in the form of multiple videos, pdfs and exercises. Home work, a facebookk group for support and peer comment. Facebook albums for uploading homework and receiving tutor comments and help. Also weekly emails and best of all, adjustment videos where work is selected to be adjusted digitally in front of your eyes so you can see exactly what is happening when you apply the design principles that Nicholas Wilton uses.
Although I believe that I was doing some of this adjusting already, in a very intuitive way, having the knowledge and understanding to know how to improve any creative work to make it stronger is like having Dr Who’s Sonic Screwdriver to hand. The principles can be applied quickly and easily, making my work more interesting and powerful without all the angst.
After 2 weeks of ground work looking at what we like, what inspires us, and where we see ourselves going creatively, we got to splash paint around. It had to be playful with no design intention, just splosh, see what it looks like, then respond with something else. The boards are all 12″ squares and are my play boards. I painted over things so many times as the boards developed from pastel shades to bright colours. Working in acrylics is really helpful as they dry pretty quickly and you can apply them thickly to get good coverage.
Then began the delving into the design principles, and we were constrained to black and white to better be able to see the composition without the distraction of colour.
The first two of these were similar to the play boards – spolsh and respond, but this time with consideration given to the design principles. Not having a composition in mind, but allowing the process to take me wherever it wanted to go.
I tried a third one, but started with painting a recognisable object, just to see if I could still apply the principles when the shapes had some meaning. It is very easy to get fixated on the object and lose sight of the principles being taught. However, I think I managed to achieve my aim in the end.
None of these boards are meant to be works of art in their own right, they are explorations, and represent the beginning of my journey on the course. We still have another 6 weeks to go of tuition and webinars, but all the content is downloadable and also available for 12 months online. Judging by the comments of those that did it last year, there are many students who continue with their facebook group, helping and supporting each other in their individual journeys.
This course is not going to tell you how use paint, pastels or whatever is your bag, it is all about getting the design right in your own chosen medium and your own style. Whether that is abstract, or representational, portrait or illustrative, or unknown to you at this moment. It therefore suits me much better than doing an art course in a college where you end up having to learn stuff that doesn’t immediately move you forward with your own work. I know that can be stimulating, but I want to explore what I want to explore, and not what I am told to explore, if that makes any sense. As the principles apply to everything, it doesn’t matter if I want to work in watercolour, polymer clay or collage, I can just take my own personal Sonic Screwdriver and fix my own design problems.
There are portrait artists, lanscape artists, illustrators, photographers, beginners and professionals on the course. It is all about your own development, and not about trying to be anyone else. No competition, just a deepening of your own understanding of the principles (Design, Value, Colour, Texture, Risk and Soul), and how to streghten your composition and get out of problems quickly and easily. It would apply to textile artists, polymer clay artisists, interior designers, graphic designers and just about anyone in a creative field.
Now I am not suggesting that you should all rush out and sign up, anyway it is too late for this year, you will have to wait until 2018 for the next course. But if I can pass on one thing without treading on toes, it is get the design right in terms of value and composition, then everything else is the icing on the cake. If the design is not right, then it doesn’t matter what you do with colour and texture, or how beautifully you execute it, the overall effect will be so much weaker. I know that this is an obvous thing to say, and I knew that it was the corner stone of strong art before I signed up, but actually knowing how to make it as strong as you can in the first place was pretty hit or miss for me. By the end of the course I will have my artistic sonic screwdriver, and I will be ready to fly!