In preparing for teaching my online drawing class I am thinking about ways I could help my students. The internet is allowing me to teach people from the USA, Australia, Europe, South America and Istanbul! When I teach in a physical classroom, I get to know my students on a more intimate level. I am excited about teaching online and want everyone to get the most of the classes. One of the big questions that comes to mind is……..
Why do YOU want to learn to draw?
Everyone’s reasons are personal. Here are a few things I would like my blog readers as well as my students to think about:
- You are looking to become a professional artist and sell your work.
- You have always wanted to learn to draw but didn’t know where to start.
- You have drawn for years and feel your foundation in drawing is weak.
- You haven’t drawn in years and want to get back into it.
- You love to draw and do it for pleasure and relaxation.
- You believe you can’t draw but thought you’d give it a try anyway.
What are your expectations?
- At the end of a class I should be a professional.
- I hope to gain better insight into the skills involved in learning to draw.
- I have been frustrated with my current skill level and need guidance.
- I want to have fun and thought this would be something I’d enjoy.
- I am hoping to have a good level of understanding of drawing and how to draw any subject.
What is your level of commitment in learning to draw?
- I am committed to drawing every waking minute!
- My approach is casual and plan to draw when I am in the mood.
- I can devote an hour a day to drawing.
- I am sooooo busy I will draw when I get a spare moment.
- Come hell or high water I will get the fundamentals of drawing no matter how long it takes.
- If it seems too hard or takes too much time, I will probably give up.
Some of these choices may seem ridiculous to you and to others completely rational and reasonable.
Here is a personal story:
In 1991 I decided to become a professional artist. I took a 2 year program at NYBG in 9 months. I worked full time, took classes and drew at least 20, sometimes 30 hours a week. Within 3 years my income came from my art and teaching art. I had a plan, committed to it and made it happen.
Since I was a little girl, I wanted to learn to play the piano. My parents couldn’t afford the lessons or the piano. I never learned to read music, but always sang and played the guitar because I could use my dad’s guitar. In 2009 my mom surprised me with a PIANO along with piano lessons. I had a teacher come to the house once a week, I practiced 30 minutes, 5 days a week for about 2 months. After that period of time I learned the scales and could play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” with 2 hands. I had no idea how hard it was going to be……. I quit, I gave up and haven’t played it since. I made a conscious decision…… I wanted to be really good…….but I wasn’t willing to put in the time to get as good as I wanted. I decided it was better to quit than to be awful or at best mediocre. There are so many things to do and so little time. I decided I can only stretch myself so far and playing the piano would be crossed off the list to other interests.
In both situations I am satisfied with my decisions. I would make the same decision again.
I hope I have given you some food for thought. Where decisions have you made about why art is important to you.
Share it with us. I would love to hear from you.
Hi Mindy. I have taken on-line classes for about 2 or so years and while I was serious about the classes and did all the lessons religiously, I was never asked “why” I was taking the courses. Thanks so much for writing this blog. It tells me that you are committed to teaching us and that we should be committed to learning and practicing if we hope to better ourselves. The responsibility is mine if I want to accept this learning challenge. I have no desire to become a “professional” but I do have the desire to do as well as I can. I feel I will make it, because when I first started drawing it took executing a lesson several time before I was pleased with the outcome and it has become easier over time. But, I also know that I have a lot to learn and I intend to do just that, with your help. Thank you.
I am glad you liked the post. I think having a goal in mind is a good way to measure progress and maintain realistic expectations. Dedication and perseverance are key. It sounds like you are on you way!
Enjoy the journey!
What an excellent and thought provoking blog post!. I have made note of my responses to your questions and plan on reviewing them at the end of the course. It will be interesting to see if my answers remain the same or evolve into something different as a result of taking the course.
This is a great way to start. I am making a note of what you are doing and will suggest that others do the same. I teach a class called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and in this class we do before and after drawings. It will be interesting to see how you respond to your answers after the class is over.
Enjoy the journey!
Hmmm. Food for thought here. As soon as I saw your course I wanted to do it Mindy. Living in a fairly remote area of Queensland the lessons/teachers available are very limited, and I am reluctant to commit to a Uni course. I love to draw and am mainly self-taught, with help from the internet over the past few years. My drawing skills certainly have room for alot of improvement, and I am a person who needs a tutor, There is only so much you can learn from a book or a few minutes of youtube. The courses I have already done with Val have taught me alot.
I would like to become an artist eventually and I think that if I don’t have the basics down pat, then there is a good chance I won’t be happy with my final work, whether it is watercolour, pencil, or acrylic.
Can’t wait to start Miss!!
So glad you are taking the course. I took Foundation Drawing after I had 2 college degrees in art. I really didn’t want to go back to the basics. After I did I couldn’t believe how much I learned and how much more refined my work became. I am excited to be able give this class. I too took classes with Val and she is an excellent teacher and her online classes are very well well done. See you in class!
Thanks for this post, very interesting ask myself these things, so…my art expectations…Ive been learning for many years painting and drawing, but not to much botanical or natural drawing in particular, just a few little lessons and beeing in the Costa Rica tour (Great trip!!) let me know that I need some course. As I don´t have this kind of courses near my house, working, beeing a mami of a 2 years old child and life in general, Im not doing my passion and I dont take some time for myself. The last 3 years Ive been just doing some oil paintings.
I dont really know if I´ll become an artist, but you never know…. Gracias por este curso on-line!! besos
I am so glad that you are allowing yourself the opportunity to improve your drawing. Being a mother is a learning process too! It is important to find time for yourself and drawing is a great, relaxing way to spend time. I am looking forward to seeing you progress in journey.
Mindy, this is good to think about. I have always liked art and worked as a graphic artist BC – before computers, and before children. Life got very busy and I did not take time to make art. Three years ago we moved to a new town. At that time I decided to change my definition of an artist. My old definition was someone who made money with their art. My new definition was someone who makes art. My new definition took the pressure off, and I have been making a lot more art. I “met” you in one of Val’s class, that was the 1st online art class I had taken. Since then I have taken more online and real classes, I am loving it. I agree, putting in the time is imperative if you want to improve. I like taking classes from different people who’s art I admire. There is always more to learn and being in a class gives me structure and motivation to get to the drawing board. Thank you so much for sharing your talents and tips with us.
It seems you have a great handle on where you are at in your definition of being an artist. I agree with you completely. It is more important to create art to become an artist than it is to sell it! One of my favorite artists, John Cody has never really sold his originals. He has had major museum shows and prints made of his work. He gives his paintings to his children. So in terms of being successful at selling them he probably would score low. He has painted for over 70 years…. he is in his 90’s and has produced an amazing body of work. He is still passionate about what he does and creates the most fascinating color combinations, realistic moth paintings I have ever seen.
Thank you for the blog. It is always a good idea to think about why you are taking any type of course. I wish I had taken this course before I started an online botanical illustration class., I have very poor drawing skills, and the little time that is spent in drawing and graphite was not to my advantage. The reason I want to take this course is to have a good foundation in drawing with witch to use to draw anything that I find interesting. I am learning watercolor painting as well, so I would like to draw my own pictures and be able to paint them…Drawing, painting, and all my musical endeavors will become my new daily routine. I am having to persevere with watercolor painting, and am willing to persevere with drawing, which is why I am taking this course…..I too live in a remote area, so I am thankful for this online class to help me with my drawing skills.
Hi Carmelle- Bravo for you! It takes a lot to admit when you are struggling with something and need to go back a few steps. So many people won’t take the opportunity to start over or go back to the basics. They usually find frustration and disappointment. Sometimes people give up, or think they are just “not talented”. Drawing is a skill that can be taught and learned. This class is designed to do just that. I look forward to having you in the class. Happy Drawing!~Mindy
I took a class with you in Graham NC, a couple of years ago and was very impressed with your drawings. I switched slowly to watercolor pencil from plain watercolor as I find myself very exacting type person rather that a loose painter and find pencil easier fro me. . Using watercolor pencil still left something to be desired and I have realized that basic drawing is my problem, so I am forging forward to taking a class with my favorite teacher on plain ole drawing. As far as my reason for artwork it is purely selfish as I am 78 and know that I will never sell or try to sell my art as I tried that once and just was not good enough to interest people and see many starving artists out there and know that by the time I became good enough to compete with the good folks like yourself that I will be long gone. So I guess I just do it to have fun. I thank you for your art, teaching skills, and enthusiasm and above all your gifts to the world of your art and hope some rubs off.
Jim! You are a true sweetheart. I am honored to have you in class again….even if it is long distance. I hope you enjoy the class and learn a whole new set of skills to get drawing and “seeing” better. See you online! Mindy
Hi Mindy, what a great and thought provoking post. I am a self employed designer, furniture builder and started hand drawing my prints until computers made things faster ( although I still prefer to hand draw because a computer just doesn’t seem to give life or warmth to a drawing ). I have always been interested in art, mostly trying to learn on my own and recently started playing around with watercolors. One of my main reason for taking your class is that I am also an avid gardener working on changing careers into organic farming. I want to be able to keep a growing journal by drawing rather than using photographs to document the plants. I also want to create my own hand drawn seed packets to use to sell seeds for our future farm. I am very much looking forward to taking this class, thank you for offering it!
Hi Rob! So glad you are pursuing your passions of art and gardening!!!!! I think making your own seed packets is an excellent idea and this course should really get you going. Let me know if you have any questions along the way. I am here to help. Welcome and thanks for posting. ~Mindy
I had art lessons as a young person and have sketched a little over the years. I got a Masters degree in Physics from the University of Florida (I won’t say how many years ago), and worked in research and development commercially for 30 years. Now that I have retired I have been drawing and painting (watercolors, pen and ink, colored pencil). I have just completed the Master Gardener program in Osceola County and am volunteering time to support county homeowners improve their gardening and young people (4H, etc.) as much as the Master Gardener group can do. I would like to become a better botanical artist, I was thinking I could contribute visuals to my volunteer work. Most of the classes around here encourage “painting loose” and are not as rigorous as I would need to get a jump in my skills.
Hi Betty….. a fellow Floridian! I wold love to take the Master Gardening Program. I moved to Florida 5 years ago from New Jersey and discovered there is no “DIRT” here. Gardening is a whole new adventure here and I am loving it. I am in Sumter County. I think this will “tighten” up your skills. Glad to have you in the class!!!
June 3, 2016
Hello Mindy: I started drawing and watercolor a few years ago, after retiring from a career in film and tv.
I always thought I had no natural talent and never tried: silly me. I’ve learned that with regular practice and
a good eraser, I make slow and steady progress. I want to draw/paint every day — it calms and focuses my
mind in a way nothing else ever has. I’m drawn to botanical work and find it vastly challenging, but I’m also
thrilled when I can achieve something with clarity, detail and beauty. Onward! I admire your work truemendously
and found your teaching style in your YouTube videos very illuminating, clear and giving a depth of information
that a few other online courses I’ve tried did not. so looking forward to your classes.
Hi Mary! Thanks so much for writing in on this blog post. I took a class over 20 years ago with Betty Edwards, The Author/Artist of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. She engrained in me the fact that drawing is a skill which can be learned. No magic fairy dust….but yes a lot of hard work. If you are able to focus and discipline yourself to draw everyday you will make great progress. Often people think that drawing is magic and either you can or can not draw. The class you are about to take will show you that it is indeed a skill and with hard work you can do it! I will be available for questions, feedback and support as well as the other people in the class. I look forward to working with you on your drawing/painting journey!
I became interested in botanical drawing while taking a Master Naturalist Class Certification in 2010. I had taken a course for classroom teachers with two different artists in the past. I was a terrified beginner. I took Val Webb’s Watercolor Lettering Class where I met you. Still terrified. I began drawing zentangles, not formal ones, just repeating the motives for a pleasing design. I kept a sketchbook for permaculture landscape ideas. Most recently, I began drawing from Trees of Missouri, now that we have moved to the country and live on 43 wooded acres. I also draw a daily word surrounded by zentangle-style motifs while my husband reads our daily inspiration. I discovered that I can draw the leaves much better now, so the daily practice has been helping to refine my hand motions. I have several books which I get ideas from, but I still can’t really control what i am doing from what I am seeing. So, now that I have a bit more control, I want to take your Foundation Course.
Thank you so much for sharing Kathryn! I really enjoyed Val’s classes. I took 4 or 5 of them. Zentangles are fun to do also and I think they are a great way to gain confidence and feel comfortable with drawing without the pressure of whether it “looks right”. I envy you taking a Master’s Naturalist Class…. it is on my to-do list. I moved to Florida 5 years ago and they have one here but I haven’t found the time yet to take it. Congrats to you for taking a foundation drawing class. I find this class is really a way for me to help people build a good understanding of drawing. I have taught this for over 20 years and I am still amazed at the wonderful progress people make. I look forward to working with you! Cheers ~Mindy
I have painted in acrylics oils colored pencils a little watercolor(realism in all is my favorite goal). i’ve taken many classes in person and a few online. worked at learning DSLR photography to be able to create my own work, leanrened many techniques and tried many styles of art. i had not taken drawing but i know that is the foundation of all the art i like to do. i simply want to know how to use the materials and learn techniques that will expand possibilities of satisfying my need to create art in realism subjects. i work full time often 10-12 hrs a day and run my own business plus all the other stuff that we all do to live our lives with family and friends. my best friends have always been my art friends! i work on my art on weekends but sometimes lose myself in time easily spending 10 hrs creating. i don’t work fridays so i get to play😁 no illusions of being professional just st love to learn and see what i can do from my photos. i know i will enjoy this class!
This is awesome…. you are a very motivated person and I think you will see movement rapidly. Dedication, passion and persistence are all components of learning to draw and I can tell you are on your way. Welcome and enjoy the process!
I decided it was time I returned to doing something I loved to do… drawing and painting the world around us. Botanical illustration is something I came to in the late 90’s and let me say that the work I did with you at the New York Botanical Gardens was wonderful. And yes, I even traveled to Belize with you for a workshop. You instructional practice is clear and insightful not to mention encouraging. Unfortunately, once I completed the course work my career and life got in the way of my art work and I did not complete the portfolio or certification. I am now retired and have more time to devote to getting back to it. While I have sat down several times to draw and sketch, I am finding that I am not at all happy with the results! I hope this class will get me going once again.
Great to have you in class again even if it is long distance I remember you very well and enjoyed traveling with you and having you in class. I am glad to hear that you are getting back to your passions. I am here to help and look forward to working with you. Cheers!
Learning to draw, especially to draw plants, is something I’ve always wanted to do. I am a plant scientist by training and I’m currently a biology professor at a college in Arizona. I have always enjoyed, and been reasonably good at, drawing structures and specimens from microscope slides. I love recording the detail, technicality and structure in these subjects. However, whenever I try to add depth, 3D-ness (or heaven forbid, colour!) to my work the wheels come off LOL! I have been fortunate enough to be awarded a sabbatical for this academic year and part of my professional and personal growth goals for the year is to re-connect with the botany I love. Learning to draw plants will give me an opportunity to do that. I am also interested to learn some techniques for “seeing” and “recording” that I can use in my own classes once I return to teaching next Fall. Close observation is such an important thing and I think drawing really helps understanding and remembering when it comes to structure/function relationships. I currently have no pedagogical tools for helping my students get the most out of their time drawing from the microscope.
I do not really consider myself an “artistic” person – it doesn’t come naturally to me, but I do absolutely love structure and patterns (mandalas, crochet etc. etc…) and I did realize, back when I was doing a lot of microscope-based drawing, that drawing is a skill and that you can develop it and get better with practice. I’m excited to get started!
Hi Rachel and welcome!
Wonderful that you are having a sabbatical semester. It looks like you have tons of botanical experience and you are on a mission to move forward in the art world. Please let me know if you have questions etc. I would love to see how you incorporate your drawing experience into the classroom. See you online! Cheers, Mindy
Your questions about our motivation to draw, personal expectation, and level of commitment, are truly thought provoking! To be honest, I thought I had those things figured out. Having taken two certification courses, one in the USA and the other in London, England, I was well on the way to becoming a professional artist. The one thing that stopped me from becoming truly proficient was my lack of drawing skills. Drawing is the foundation to all other botanical art! I have the potential to become a good artist if only I would really commit to the practice. I hope to set a daily routine of drawing to test my long term commitment and along the way develop some realistic goals for improvement. For now I just wish to draw and paint for myself and not push for public recognition. Art is a pleasurable process for me that does not require an audience. Looking forward to class!
Best regards, Margaret
Wonderful response! I am glad that you are back to your art again. I think you have excellent personal goals and expectations. I am looking forward to working with you.
Hi Mindy, I love your art work. I decided to try your drawing class because you use mixed media. I enjoy using anything at hand to produce a picture. I am worried and unsure about my commitment to learning to draw but hopeful that I can commit to the process and practice needed to be successful. My goal is to gain a foundation in the skills needed to draw well. My purpose is to take personal responsibility to improve my skill level- near the bottom- so that I can create art that I enjoy without frustration. Thank you for sharing your hard earned knowledge with me and my classmates.
Hi Rebecca, I love making art and really enjoy using all types of mediums. I learned about 20 years ago that most of my frustration came from not really knowing how to draw. I thought it required “talent”. I thought I needed to learn techniques but was always disappointed in my results. I realized it was the underlying drawings that were giving me the problems and went and started from the beginning to learn to draw. It does take hard work and dedication but drawing is a skill that can be taught and learned. It will be wonderful to work with you on your art journey. I am here to help! ~Mindy