Looking Forward: 2020 Edition

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I ended my previous post noting my question of whether I would return to Watts Online Atelier in 2020. The next day I decided I would return.

I love almost everything about Watts (the grading system is still lacking, though), and I was happy to be back. Also, they had announced that they would be releasing a new Figure Drawing Fundamentals course taught by Brian Knox. And that they did, on December 28. I was thrilled.

And yet, today, just a few hours ago, I decided to leave Watts and return to New Masters Academy.

Why?

There are a few reasons.

First and foremost, after spending two hours on their new Figure Fundamentals course, I was lost. Watts does what it can to cater to beginners, but, really, I think you need to have some experience before joining them. If Watts’ most basic courses were college 101 drawing courses, all students without sufficient high school art classes would need to take some remedial drawing classes. I found this to be true with their Drawing Fundamentals and their Head Fundamentals, and, sadly, I find it to be true with their Figure Fundamentals.

On the other hand, I never thought I was in over my head while at New Masters. They have a bonafide beginner’s course that cleared up a lot of things for me, and while some of their instructors may springboard to more advanced topics, Steve Huston doesn’t. In fact, when I first started watching his head drawing course, I was a little put off by how basic his first lessons were. (By this time, I had already gone through Watts Head Fundamentals.) But I quickly discovered that while his lessons seemed basic in terms of intellectual content, putting those lessons into practice in terms of drawing was not only challenging but also greatly improved my skills.

So, for this reason alone, I decided to move from Watts Online Atelier to New Masters Academy. But this move isn’t the only item I want to discuss in this post. I also want to look forward to what I hope to achieve in 2020.

2020 will be my first year as a bonafide aspiring artist. In previous years, art was always “just a hobby.” At least, that’s what I told myself. Deep down, I wanted it to be more. In fact, I knew it was more. But it took me a long time to accept this new reality. And so, 2020 is officially the “Year I Get Serious About Art.” I’ve done my best to clear my plate of all non-essential non-art related activities. Art will be my full-time work.

And let me tell you, that’s pretty exciting and a little frightening.

I am nowhere near where I want to be as an artist. I have no aspirations to be a Great Artist. I just want to become the best artist I can, and I know there is a big gulf between where I’m at now and where I can be. Simply stated: while it’s tempting to turn pro and put all my effort into selling my work — maybe even starting a YouTube channel (hey, all the cool kids are doing it!) — 2020 is dedicated to training. To that end, here are my plans.

*Do art daily.

*Focus on head and figure drawing so that I can start head and figure painting in 2021. At the moment, I have no desire to be a draftsman. My end goal is to be a painter.

*Get deep into acrylic painting techniques and mediums. I’ve come to prefer acrylics over oils and want to master this medium.

*Become proficient with gouache so that, in 2021, when I start painting the head and figure, I can use gouache. My theory is that since you can reactive gouache, the blending that’s necessary for beautiful head and figure painting would be easier to achieve with gouache than acrylics. And there’s also the fact that I just love the way gouache looks.

*Following Steve Huston’s advice, I want to spend time each day with the Old Masters, doing some kind of master copies in my sketchbook.

*Study perspective, composition, and color theory. Especially color theory.

How, exactly, all of this will work, I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like this before. The key for me is to be adaptable and also not to get so caught up in all my plans that it is not sustainable.

Here’s to a successful 2020!

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