There are many 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 way too many ads you have to click through them to find the certain subject or lessons you want. Others are simplistic, dumbing down the instruction, offering very little information and leaving the student feeling cheated or bored.
Where some art instruction websites offer many areas of study, for example, painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking, other may offer just one area, drawing, for example. The variety of subjects presented doesn’t necessary assure the quality of the website. But, how can you tell a good art learning website from a bad one, especially when you are not that familiar with the subjects to begin with?
Here is a guideline: a check list that will help you choose a good website–one that will be easily understandable and present a rewarding learning experience for you.
* Does the website offer what it says it does? Believe it or not, quite a few don’t. For instance, if they say they offer free lessons, are the lessons actually free of charge or is there a hidden “enrollment fee” or some other kind of charge for accessing the information.
* Can you easily find the lessons you want to take, or do you have to click through several ads to do so? Often the content of the lessons in this kind of website is lacking in quality because the website is simply a tool for monetizing.
* Is the instruction information-rich, presented clearly and in a step by step format? Many websites offer a bulk of information that is hard to follow and leaves the student confused as to the next learning step. You want to be able to easily follow the instruction and be given the opportunity to thoroughly understand the specific information before moving on to the next step. It is no help to you if the instruction assumes you know a certain area of study and passes over it, leaving you with many unanswered questions.
* Are there pictures or videos that show you specific processes, techniques as well as examples of work for that particular area of study? There are several websites that offer lessons with absolutely no visual references at all. 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 website instructor(s)? Can you contact a real teacher by email or phone if you have a question concerning your learning process. AND, can you submit pictures of your artwork in progress for a critique?
* Be cautious about “How To Draw A—” websites. Why? Because although a website may offer clear, concise instruction on how to draw a nose, this is a “quick and dirty” approach to the skill of drawing. Where, indeed, you may learn how 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 which will enable you to draw anything. The “how to draw a nose” approach is similar to “How To Build A Shed” by showing how nail two boards together.
* Good artists are not necessarily good instructors. Websites that show the beautiful work of an artist and then offer their instruction either via e-books, online subscriptions or workshops imply that in no time at all you will be able to paint like they do. This approach is similar to the diet that is touted by the slim and beautiful young woman talking about how easily and quickly she lost thirty pounds! Look for testimonials from students who have taken lessons from the artist/instructor. Look for examples of student work, especially if you are paying tuition.
* Does the website offer a package of art materials specific to each course? Or, does the website define specifically what you will need for your lessons prior to instruction? In art, this is very important. Poor materials perform poorly and often, the visual effects you are trying to achieve, cannot be a 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 into the instruction your fine pair of eyes and eager hands. It is the instructor’s responsibility to provide clear and concise information on what materials you will need for each lesson.
* On the other side, carefully examine the curriculum of a website that offers elaborate packages of art materials, for example, lovely polished wooden boxes of oil paints, extremely expensive brushes and canvases, etc. Compare what they are asking you to purchase with similar materials offered by your local art supply store, or reputable online art supply houses.
* Question any kind of “certificate or degree” that states that you are now an accredited artist or skilled in a certain field of study, especially if you have paid for your instruction. Although your accomplishment is worthy and should make you feel good, art learning, like any other area of study, should not be limited by assumed expertise. There is always a need to improve your skills and develop new ones towards your journey towards becoming proficient as an artist.
* Lastly, look for a mode of instruction that is compatible with your personality. Students who are aligned with their instructor learned better; more quickly and easily. And an instructor should be one that you admire, who inspires you and councils you every step of the way The art learning experience is, above all, a joyful and inspiring one!