MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses. Respectable institutions like Harvard, Stanford and MIT have signed on. The benefits of traditional classrooms are being sacrificed, say some educators, and many in academia don’t like the MOOC’s profit motives. This argument sounds funny coming from tenured professors.
The big MOOC players right now are Udacity, Coursera and edX. A recent introductory course offered by Stanford University attracted 160,000 students from 190 countries. Of the 248 who got a perfect score, none were Stanford students. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
The big benefit of MOOCs is that a world of eager students get to sit in with the best communicators in the most refined and cutting-edge courses.
Artists have been using disc and online learning for several decades. Art is particularly suited to the system. Bridled with entitlement, rugged individualism and a sense of free will, artists can choose for themselves the instructor with the most to give, in what discipline, and on what path. Most of us would agree with Robert Henri‘s dictum, “All education is self-education.” Professional online art courses offer hard-won insider info that permits students to add their own direction and audacity. For a career in art, it’s not the degree at the end, it’s the knowledge along the way.
Over the past few months, we’ve looked at about thirty online art courses of various sorts. When unsure as to value, I asked for an assessment by respected colleagues. We’re still looking seriously at everything that comes our way. Color Foundation for the Painter by Stephen Quiller is an eight-hour tutorial in 13 chapters that beats everything we’ve seen to date. At 100 bucks it’s a bargain. If you happen to be looking for an in-depth understanding of colour–theory, mixing, application, as well as psychological and esthetic effects beautifully presented by one of today’s top colourists, this is the course for you.
FYI, today we’re introducing a new Painter’s Keys page, called Bob’s Best, with my personal choices of educational downloads and CDs. Stephen Quiller’s new colour course is at the top of my list.
PS: “Value and intensity determine the mood you desire.” (Stephen Quiller)
Esoterica: With online or disc learning, you stop and proceed in your own sweet time. Unlike the pressure of a classroom or even a workshop, you move on only when you’ve grasped a point. This is particularly valuable when trying to master a hands-on activity like painting. No generation before has owned the miracle of an education by button. I watched the Quiller video out of the corner of my eye, off and on while painting over a four-day period. Stephen’s approach is both personal and universal; the information flows in an effortless and timely way. In my case, learning and relearning often takes place by “osmosis.” I slowed down (and painted better) while watching, listening and learning.
The writing on the wall
The greatest resistance to MOOCs is coming from the faculty and boards of many ivy league universities and colleges. And some big art schools don’t like the idea, either. The reason is easy to see. Stanford, MIT and Harvard, institutions you mention, are pioneers because they can see the writing on the wall. Many educators have priced themselves so high so that not all young people can afford to attend. And the traditional idea of a degree is losing favor. A degree often counts for little, particularly in the area of fine art I’m afraid. As an instructor in higher education, I am most aware of these changing trends.
Problems with live workshops
by Kathryn Ikeda, Lafayette, CA, USA
In general I welcome online and DVD instruction as I find workshops are becoming too expensive, particularly if one adds in the travel costs and accommodations. And not just monetarily, but also time wise. It’s difficult to find a large block of time to leave when there are other obligations that just don’t go away. I try to find local instructors if at all possible, but sometimes the type of technique that I wish to observe firsthand is just not available locally. I certainly don’t begrudge the instructors their fees, either. I think they work too long and hard not to charge a reasonable amount for their expertise.
I was wondering if you had heard of the Daniel Edmondson Studio. He has a series of online and DVD painting lessons. I have been receiving numerous emails from his website, but have not been able to find any reviews on his teaching.
(RG note) Thanks Kathryn. And thanks to all who sent in queries and recommendations for online tuition and DVD connectivity. We’re looking into every one of them and will perhaps be adding further recommendations to Bob’s Best.
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Tail wagging the dog
by H Margret, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Count me as one who watches those using color systems create uniform, predictable work. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, if that is what you want to do. I choose the excitement of the masters such as Kandinsky (see his surprising & brilliant use of viridian green), Matisse and Turner, to name a few. Rigid systems are used in successful manufacturing because the volumes are so high and so is capital outlay. Artists need to be leaders. The Impressionists changed color use for over a century. For artists to use a color wheel as a template is to have the tail wagging the dog. Of course, it’s much easier to be a factory with factory tools, and sheer production is usually the point today for artists.
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Nuts and Bolts
by Ann Waisbrot, St. Germain, WI, USA
I just purchased the DVD, Nuts and Bolts, by Quang Ho. It’s excellent and inspiring. I don’t drop $150 easily, but feel this was an excellent investment.
I have taken workshops with some very good painters but this DVD reminded me and reinforced information I should already know, and has introduced some new ways of seeing and thinking. I viewed it with a friend who is just beginning to paint and she, too, has gained some valuable insights. Although he is a representational painter, he has an understanding and appreciation of abstract and non representational art as well. (I have cancelled subscriptions to magazines where editors think classical or some other style is the only way to go and everything else is the Emperor’s New Clothes.) I also appreciate that I can load it on my studio computer and go back to it time and time again.
(RG note) Thanks Ann. Another one we’re studying for Bob’s Best.
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What about the hearing impaired?
by Stefanie Graves, Paducah, KY, USA
I think it’s great that there are more online courses for art being offered and commend you for showcasing the ones you think are some of the best. I would like to draw your attention, however, to the need for captioning on these videos. I am one of the 6 million deaf or hearing impaired Americans, and I rely on captioning to fully comprehend any kind of visual media, including TV, movies, or videos. While I have cochlear implants (and previously hearing aids), those do not completely correct my hearing deficit. To really follow what is going on, people such as myself need captions. So far, the beta captioning on YouTube is woefully inadequate, and unfortunately most artists who do instructional videos do not make them with captioning.
(RG note) Thanks, Stefanie. Quality online and DVD art tutorials are in their infancy. It’s my opinion that the really great art videos are yet to be produced. Certainly captioning needs to be included. The visual arts are too wonderful to overlook, particularly for the hearing impaired.
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A great book on colour
by Joy Halsted, Gloucester, MA, USA
As an adjunct to online colour courses, there is a book, Color–A natural history of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay. It’s simply terrific. Her explorations/travels around the world to find the source and history of many, if not most, colors in their original state is great reading and erudition.
(RG note) Thanks, Joy. I loved the book so much I wrote a twice-weekly letter about it here. A passionate and brilliantly curious young woman, Victoria, in one of many colour-seeking adventures, rickshaws out to the village of Monghyr, near Patna in Bihar State, India, to try to find why the ancient cows died young. (Yellow) It’s available on Amazon here.
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Self-discipline these days
by Mark D. Gottsegen, Greensboro, NC, USA
We artists have always been free to go to a museum and learn, even to go there and copy, paint, to learn. The problem is really self-discipline, isn’t it? Who would make him/herself go to a museum and study paintings and maybe copy a few, or at least draw?
Remember Kimon Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw? I used to show my students that book and say it was great, if you followed all the directions. Then I’d pick one (making this up, but you get the point): Draw 5 geometric forms for 3 hours. Do 60 drawings. My students would gasp. “But,” I would say, “that’s the way to learn to draw.” The point is that if you have the self-discipline, you can do it. Who has that, today?
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Enjoy the past comments below for The arrival of the MOOCs…
Flowers in a bowl
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.
That includes Edie G who wrote, “For students of university age, trying to choose their field, wondering whether they can do the work, struggling with new ways of thinking, MOOCs would be a very poor substitute for a teacher in class who knows them and interacts with them.”
And also Pesach Ben Levi of Fayetteville, NY, USA, who supplied us with the following: