What it means to be a ‘self-taught’ artist

I consider myself a ‘self-taught’ artist.

What does this mean?

Essentially, it means I have had very little formal training in art/painting. I took art in high school, and very briefly in college, before switching to psychology for some reason, but since then, everything I’ve learnt has been through self-guided learning, using books, videos, informal online courses, and a large dose of trial-and-error (heavy on the error!)

So in a sense, I have been taught by the people who wrote those books and made those videos/courses, but not directly, and the ‘self-taught’ label applies more to the self-directed nature of the learning. I chose what to learn and when, and at what pace. I wasn’t following a curriculum, or being told exactly what to study.

As such, my learning has been sporadic, and I’ve been known to go for months at a time without picking up a brush/pencil (although I’m getting into a more regular routine these days).

How to be a self-taught artist

Here are some of the most beneficial resources I’ve used in my learning path so far. I hope you’ll find them equally useful.

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Baby and Toddler portraits

I’m at that age now (well, I have been for a few years actually) where everyone around me seems to be having babies.

It seems like every week someone else I know announces their good news!

But as any experienced parent will tell you, those early years are over in the blink of an eye and before you know it, your baby is all grown up and you find yourself looking at baby photos and wondering where the time went (so I’m told – my time has yet to come!)

I think this is why people like to get portraits painted of their babies, to capture that fleeting moment in time  in a painting that will last a lifetime.

I was recently asked to paint this portrait of my sister’s goddaughter, as a present for the parents on the baby’s first birthday. (Click to enlarge)

And I  made a video as I was painting, which shows some of the process:

If you know someone who would appreciate a custom-painted portrait of their little one to treasure forever, you can order one today from drawmyface.co.uk

Here are a few more examples of my baby portraits (click to enlarge). Get in touch if you want to discuss a commission.

Digital Black & White

Digital Colour

Acrylics on Canvas


Art School

Back to School, and a New Blog

I’m very excited. Next week I am starting to study classical art with Jonathan Hardesty’s online atelier.

For a long time I have been wanting to do some formal art training, and I’ve become very interested in the classical atelier approach to art instruction. This involves learning to draw and paint through a series of projects including bargue drawings, cast drawings, master copies, and finally full colour paintings.

I had considered enrolling at an actual atelier, but a bit of research turned up only two atelier schools in the UK, both of which are in London. I toyed with the idea of spending a year studying in London, but soon decided against it due to the expense, the upheaval, and the commitments I have here in Sheffield.

So I needed another option. I have taken an online art course before, Jason Seiler’s Art of Caricature at Schoolism.com, and I was very impressed with the way it worked, so I figured maybe I could do something similar again.

A bit more research landed me at Jonathan’s site. I checked out his paintings, watched some of his YouTube videos, and was sold. I’ve been in touch with him, and I will be starting on Monday!

I will be posting images here of all the projects I complete along with my thoughts on the learning process. I hope those will be of some interest.

More Exciting News!

What, more?! Yes. I have spent the last few weeks working on a new blog called Right Brain Rockstar. The site will be a source of information and inspiration for anyone who would like to make a living out of their creative talent.

I have long since wanted to do art full-time, but until recently I’ve never had the motivation that’s required to do something about it.

Now I am working toward that goal, and my new blog will document my journey, and hopefully inspire other people to join me in my quest to make creativity my day job!

The blog is scheduled to launch on Monday 28th November, but you can go there now and join me on Twitter or Facebook, or join the mailing list, and you will be the first to know when the site goes live. Let me know what you think of the idea in the comments below.

I will continue to use this blog to talk about my art, speaking of which, here’s a video of a figure drawing I did a while back. This was originally published on an art tutorial site I started, but I’ve decided to abandon that and any tutorials or demonstration videos I make will be published here from now on. Enjoy!

Grisaille in Acrylics

Quick Grisaille in Acrylics

Here’s a video of part of a sketch painting I did last year, but I only got around to editing the video this week.

You can see the finished sketch below.

A grisaille is a monochrome painting, traditionally painted in shades of grey (the word grisaille is from the French gris, meaning grey), but it can really be done in any colour, and shades of brown are quite common, as it can mimic the colour of skin.

This grisaille was done in acrylic paint in about 30 minutes. With acrylics, you don’t get much time to work with the paint once it’s down on the canvas as they dry so quickly. I’m going to do a grisaille in oils next, and I’ll record part of the painting process.

Here’s the finished acrylic sketch. Let me know what you think.

Grisaille in Acrylics

Grisaille in Acrylics

Jeff Buckley Sketch Painting

Getting Back Into Painting After a Break

Ok, I haven’t done much painting for quite a few months, but now I’m itching to get back into it.

I’ve had this half-finished Jeff Buckley painting lying around for months, and today I finally got round to doing some more work on it.

I don’t think I’ll take it any further, but it was fun to throw some paint around the canvas again, and get the old arms loosened up!

Here’s the painting in its current state:

Jeff Buckley Sketch Painting

Jeff Buckley Sketch Painting

It’s not a piece I’m particularly taken with, but it was a great reintroduction to painting after a pretty long break, and working in monochrome helped me build my confidence again without getting distracted by colour.

I also filmed part of the painting process, which I intend to do more of in future. I’ve created a short montage video, so you can see a bit of how it came together. Let me know what you think.

This was an acrylic painting, but I think it will be my last, as I have now embraced oils as my medium of choice, so look out for some new oil paintings coming soon!