The Art of Learning

“Live, as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn, as if you were to live forever.”

– Mahatma Gandhi.

If, like me, you are a budding artist, so to speak, and relatively new to art and if, like me, you are an untrained artist, what thoughts or plans do you have about how to develop your skills? Perhaps you are a trained artist but you also still find yourself wanting to learn more? Are you happy learning ‘as you go’ or are you interested in more structured methods of learning and developing?

Social Media…

I am on Facebook. I have a page which is art focused. You will find my Facebook page at: When I used to use my personal Facebook page more, I set up a Facebook group, with some very dear friends, which was an art interest group; a place we could share our various art endeavours. This is one way of developing your artistic skills; by sharing with and learning from your friends in an art group. We found that we could share anecdotes, information, photos and videos and so we dabbled with art and crafting.

A Group With Friends…

This then developed into a monthly meeting, in-person, as a group and we would spend a few hours sharing lunch and then trying out various art activities. Once the Covid-19 lockdown comes to an end, perhaps this is something you might like to set up with your friends?

Out and About…

Again, once lockdown is over, another nice way to learn is to go out with friends and take a sketch book each and whatever materials you want to use and simply find somewhere you would all find comfortable, enjoyable and interesting to spend a few hours sketching. It’s nice to combine activities like this with a shared lunch or pic-nic. You might be surprised at how much your learn from simply sharing ideas, observations and your own knowledge, with your friends.

Educational Resources…

Alongside the wealth of books and online material about art and artists, which you can learn from at your leisure, there are a myriad of courses for people of all ages. From short one-off workshops through to University Degree courses. A good place to start is to look at the adult education courses in your georgraphical area. Usually published by mid summer, courses for adults are often held around each county in a variety of educational and community based venues; such as community centres and village halls. These courses are often around six to twelve weeks in length. They cover a wide variety of skills, for example; stained glass window making, pottery, watercolour painting, life drawing and photography, plus many more.

These short adult education courses can be a lovely way to develop a specific new skill, no matter what your art education background is, and they offer an opportunity to meet like-minded people in your area, which can be helpful if your own friendship group doesn’t include anyone else with an interest in art. These short courses may also give you a taste for perhaps taking a longer course or gaining a qualification in an art related subject or field. A lot of people find that they are a helpful boost to self-confidence, too. If you are on a low income or you are in receipt of Government benefits, you may qualify for your course of choice being subsidised. Do take a look at your local authority web site for further information.

Your Community…

In recent years, it has become known that people are increasingly isolated; particularly in later life but also this affects people in all age groups. Setting up an informal art group in your area, whether in-person or online (or even better, both), such as a drop-in or coffee morning art group in your local village hall or community centre, can be a wonderful way to get people out of their homes and socialising. If lockdown restrictions are in place, then the online option is also a great way for people to connect. Many people will avoid going to a group, for fear that they are ‘not good enough’ at art, but if it is made clear that the main purpose is to simply create a social group and art is a just a theme by which people can attend, then people may be more inclined to pop in and ‘dabble’. This will need to be communicated sensitively and materials can either be provided, or people may be encouraged to simply arrive with a pad and some pens/pencils and to simply sketch or draw while they chat and enjoy a cuppa.

Over To You…

How have you been developing yourself as an artist? Are you a skilled artist or art teacher who has facilitated community groups, workshops or educational courses? What has that been like from your perspective? What have you tried, in terms of art activities with friends or locally organised art themed social events? What has your experience of trying courses, of all levels, been like? Do you have a skill in the arts that you could take to your community as a volunteer, by setting up a group in-person or online (or, as I say, both is best)? Please do feel free to comment below. By sharing your own experience, you may encourage another person reading this, who may be nerbvous about trying any of these options, to push themselves by having a go.

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