Free Art Education Online


What is a work of art in the age of $120,000 art degrees? A new report (PDF) by activist collective BFAMFAPhD laments the shrinking job prospects and growing debt burden for art school graduates.  Hyperallergic offers a breakdown of the results in "Indicting Higher Education in the Arts and Beyond."  Among their findings:
  • 7 of the top 10 most expensive schools in the US are art schools, and arts graduates’ debt loads are higher than those of non-arts graduates
  • 40% of working artists do not have bachelors degrees in any field
  • Only 16% of working artists have arts related bachelors degrees
  • Women and racial minorities continue to lag far behind white males in representation among art graduates and as professional artists
The traditional approach is failing us. Unless you’re given a full ride scholarship or else have parents with mad money to burn, attending art school in this day and age is a waste of your money. Students graduate woefully ill-prepared for the realities of being professional artists and loaded down with obscene amounts of debt. 

Don’t do it. THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS.

You don’t have to go to college to be an artist. Nobody will ever refuse to buy one of your paintings upon discovering that you haven't earned a Bachelors.  Comic publishers do not ask for your GPA before examining your portfolio.  You do not need a diploma to sell art.   It's only the education behind the degree that matters. The work that you produce should be your sole concern.

There are free courses all over the world that offer superior education for a mere fraction of the price of an American University. Here are a few:

Art History

About University Art History Courses: chronological descriptions of important periods in art history.
Art History Now & Then: links useful for learning art history in traditional and modern ways.
Art in Renaissance Venice  -  a 6-hour, advanced course unit that investigates how this art was affected by the diverse population and the geographical location.
Art of the Western World -  Appropriate for high school and adult learners, this series is presented through 9 videos. The hour-long videos trace Western art history from its roots in Classical Greece through the major movements of the 20th century and the contemporary international art scene.
Art Since 1940 -  Though the focus of Art Since 1940 is on post-WWII American art, the course also looks at art work from other world cultures. Readings, assignments and lecture notes cover topics like surrealism, the San Francisco School, happenings, pop art, identity politics and new media art. Some of the artists discussed are Joan Miro, Mark Rothko, Laurie Anderson and Maya Lin.

Khan Academy has an impressive library of free videos for teaching art history.

Drawing and Painting

About University Email Painting Courses: courses arrive right to your inbox and you can do them whenever you like!
Draw Space Drawing Lessons: beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons, including specific subjects like perspective, caricatures, animals, and faces.
The Elements of Drawing - works of the influential artist and poet John Ruskin (1819-1900) are used to explain topics that include line, tone, measuring, color, collecting information and working creatively.
Figure-Drawing Lab -  Created by associate professor Ralph Larmann, these animated drawing tutorials address the many facets of drawing the human form, such as proportion, shading, texture and construction.
Larry’s Art Watercolor Lessons: free lessons include those on color, perspective, masking fluid, and painting fish scales.
Through Ruskin's Eyes -  features drawing exercises based on Ruskin's teachings, using the themes of nature, architecture, landscape and narrative.

Graphic Design 

About.com Free Desktop Publishing Courses: list of free resources to learn desktop publishing from designing cards to creating newsletters.
Adobe Free Adobe Training Courses: try out Adobe products (like Photoshop) and get free training too.

Performing Arts

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Advanced Projects in the Visual Arts: Personal Narrative: investigates the use of personal narrative in cinema (as follow up to Introduction to Video)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Theatre Arts Course: features materials and an image gallery detailing pre-rehearsal preparation through the final production of the Internationalist.
Tufts University Producing Films for Social Change: readings and discussions dealing with news, media ethics, the declining credibility of the press, responsibilities to the public, social justice issues, First Amendment principles, and more.
Also note that if you already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and are interested in pursuing graduate work in art or art history, some of the above-mentioned schools may also offer full online master degree programs as well.

Photography

Beginning Photography Tips & Techniques Video Series -  eHow's 14-part series that explains the differences between using a 35 mm camera and a digital camera, how to load film into a 35 mm camera, various film formats, how to correctly use light meters, and other basic photography techniques.

PhotographyCourse.net -  Offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced film and photography courses covering areas such as optics, cameras, light, webpage layout, and digital photography.

PhotoWalkThrough - Collection of tutorials on how to use photo editing software, particularly Adobe Photoshop.

ShortCourses.com - "The On-Line Library of Digital Photography," which runs the gamut on digital camera information from basic camera equipment to pixels and image sensors.

SLR Photography Guide - Collection of tutorials on everything you need to know about using your SLR digital camera.


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