When I was studying for my Anthropology degree, because I was totally convinced I could easily find a job in a museum or something (HA!), I decided that I wanted to take drawing classes for my electives. Electives were supposed to be those things that you were also interested in, but might be outside your chosen field of study.
Unfortunately for me, at Michigan State University, unless you were an Art major you couldn't take even the most basic of art classes. All I was able to get into was a single, solitary History of Art class.
I remember it pretty vividly actually. We learned about different styles of art, painters, and artistic movements. We learned how some pieces might be interpreted, what symbolism might be peering from the edges. It was enticing, but it was lip service. Here's all these wonder forms of art that exist, but we just observed and commented. That was all. I couldn't touch any of it, couldn't get my hands on it.
I wanted to get my hands dirty. I wanted to learn the skills that art students were learning so I could take my doodling to the next level. But I couldn't, so I studied maps and meteorology instead. Never ended up getting job in any of those fields. Sadly, I also never became Indiana Jones either. You lied to me, Steven Spielberg!
Fast forward a bunch of years to now. I'm a bit more settled down now, as things go. I've got a full-time job and a full-time relationship, two maddeningly lovable cats and a home that feels like a sanctuary. I've gotten very serious about studying and learning art over the past year or so. I've always loved to draw, but I never had the fire under me I feel like I do now to do it. But I'm also, sort of middle-aged I guess. YUCK, I hate that phrase. I'm 38. Too old to be young, too young to be old. Right? RIGHT?!
There are lots of great places to learn art online. I just wrote a post about them called Best Places to Learn Art Online. Most of them are very much affordable alternatives to traditional art school, especially when compared to traditional art school. And I am taking courses through several of them, but sometimes I have to admit that I kind of crave that traditional college course structure when it comes to learning. I need the proverbial whip behind me, I need some deadlines and clear path. Now, this really can't be an expectation throughout my art career, but right now it felt like something I needed so I got an idea.
Essentially what I did boils down to this: I searched online for publicly posted syllabi of traditional art classes.
After finding and reading through many different options, I chose one program in particular that provided a detailed syllabus for Drawing I, Drawing II, and Drawing III level courses. The syllabus broke down the reading list, assignments, and in-class projects in great detail so I could see what the professor wanted the students to read, study, and draw for each and every week throughout the semester.
I had a complete guide for what reading material to acquire and the order in which to study it for the type of art classes I was never able to attend in college. It would be just like taking a traditional college art course...
...with three HUGE differences:
One, this would be a self-guided course of study, which is perfect for me being able to fit it in around my schedule that is a lot busier than it was when I was in college.
Two, that I was not bound to the racket of purchasing the newest edition of college textbooks.
And Three, NO TUITION.
Here's how the book pricing went:
- Book 1: Current edition price: $116, mine was $4 on eBay
- Book 2: Current edition price: $90, mine was $7 on eBay
- Book 3: Current edition price: $41, mine was $4 on eBay
- Book 4: Current edition price: $40, mine was $7 on eBay