Remember those matchbooks with the ads for the Famous Artists Course? Fast forward to 2017 and the creation of Art Prof, a website that offers free, accessible to anyone with an internet connection, online art instruction. Videos form the core of the program, with critiques and links to art supplies offered as well. How is it made possible? Initial funding came from a Kickstarter campaign, with continuing funding through Patreon donations.
Clara Lieu, an adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and her staff of teaching assistants (many of whom are her former students from RISD) began by producing foundational videos on drawing, collage, mixed media, and painting. These videos are geared towards beginners, both in terms of skill, which is entry-level, and cost of materials.
The course lists cover both classes with videos and project ideas. The latter are prompts to create a project in a specific type of art. For example, in 30 minutes, use continuous lines to draw every figure that enters a public space.
I’m taken with the three printmaking course options – monochromatic monotypes, rubber stamps, and linoleum printmaking. Each course includes a video, a prompt, core ideas, and a supply list (with links to suppliers.) Oh, you also have the option of linking to Prof. Lieu’s Spotify playlist.
For me, critiques are the most intriguing part of this program. “For now, many of Art Prof’s critiques are presented as video, with several different options, including group critiques of a single work and portfolio critiques. Lieu said that while the video critiques are by invitation, anyone can submit an artwork for a one-minute audio crit online via Instagram. Either way, the works are discussed based on photos, and Lieu and her staff only see the works in person when they invite artists into Lieu’s home studio for what she calls Crit Chats.” (Hyperallergic, May 31, 2018)
I’m unclear how critiques of individual works are arranged, though you schedule and pay for portfolio critiques. At any rate, you can learn a lot just by watching the critiques posted.
I decided to try out some of the courses. The monotype and rubber stamp videos are listed as upcoming, so I couldn’t test drive them. Instead, I looked at a short (about 15 minutes) video called Sensory Playground and a longer video on Drawing with Crayons. The Sensory Playground video gave me a lot of practical information about acrylic paints and painting brushes, and shared hints such as using coffee grounds to thicken paint. If I buy acrylics the video will keep me from choosing the wrong products (as always, you get what you pay for.) Drawing with Crayons uses the high priced art crayons, not Crayola, but the first part of the video has a wealth of information about composition and color that’s worth watching.
Art Prof is very much a work in progress, but I think it contains helpful art school 101 information about all the stuff that needs to happen before you worry about brush strokes, the stuff most Youtube videos don’t cover.