Artist on a Harley:

Virtual Art Lessons

[SW Colorado | September 2020 | By Mike Simpson]

You know, this COVID thing has sure put a cramp in almost every aspect of life as we used to know it. Artists have been affected as well. One form of supplemental income for an artist is teaching.

Teaching in the art world is big business…or it can be. Classes and workshops are offered all over the world. Your favorite artist may have offered a painting vacation in Tuscany, Italy or Provence, France or for me, a workshop in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, right here in my backyard.

Not these days.

Along with all the rest of educational opportunities, whether it be sending the little ones off to kindergarten or the older ones off to college…things have changed.

Of course, the big debate is whether to hold class in person or virtually, or a combination of both. In the art world, we have little choice, depending on what state you live in. In Colorado, it is my understanding that if you can maintain the social distance of 6 feet and wear a mask you can teach away. Class size is limited, however. Not sure how many it is limited to however.

Artists are survivors, if nothing else, and with the availability of the Internet and the world wide web, the interested student can take online classes from many well-known artists. The online course opportunities for students has been around for a while, and the more tech-savvy artist/teachers have figured it out.

Virtual classes and workshops are the big thing right now. The student can sign up for anything from a single day class to a continuing education career with monthly renewals. Some artists I know offer personal critiques and lesson assignments. Email exchanges allow the student to get personal feedback.

Of course, it is all for a price. Some require quite a commitment, but it takes a lot of work on the artist’s part. I know. I’ve tried it. Aside from the filming and editing, there is class schedules and marketing.

The more renowned and successful artists are filling a big void. Lots of folks have a lot of time on their hands these days and they want to learn something. It can all be done in the convenience or your own home and on your own schedule.


Mike Simpson conducting an outdoor art class. Courtesy photo.

Another format for online studies is artist videos. These have been around for a long time, but I’m told there has been a huge uptick in orders since the COVID shutdown. Folks are looking for something to do.

The problem with online classes or video classes, in my opinion, is the lack of personal human interaction. Folks like to socialize and be around like-minded artists. Some students are what we teachers call, workshop junkies. They like traveling and taking workshops. Ain’t happening now though.

I’ve enjoyed teaching a number of classes and workshops in my career. They have all been in- person classes, however. I don’t have the technical abilities to setup a virtual classroom. I think it would be difficult for a teacher to fully engage a student through a computer monitor, but I guess it is being done.

I imagine the same obstacle will exist for the kindergartener or the college student. We’ll have to see.

Check with the Montrose Center for the Arts and see what they have coming up for classes. I’ll have a class offering again there ultimately. It’ll be an in-person one. Class size may be limited however.

In the meantime, be safe out there.


Related Stories

Today’s Education. A Technical Enterprise

Education’s New True

How Do You Connect?

It’s Never Too Late to Learn Something New