Learning From DVDs

Posted August 01 2016

As a self taught artist, there are many ways I learn about art. One of my main ways is through DVD workshops. And, yes, I work for a company that sells workshops so I’ll admit that is a major perk of the job. But being at Creative Catalyst has taught me just what an integral part the DVD plays in my learning to paint and draw and it will continue to be a part of my art education as long as I’m improving as an artist.


For me, the main reason DVD workshops are important is because I can play them again and again. And each time I watch a workshop, I learn something new. The brain can only handle so much information so on pass one I will pick up a few things here and there. Back in my studio I can work with these tools until I’ve gotten better. Then, when I watch the DVD again, I pick up new information that wasn’t quite accessible on first pass. And on and on.


For example, I’m pretty sure I edited some of Hugh Greer’s acrylic workshops, and I’ve certainly seen them in the years since. But upon rewatching Acrylic Landscape Painting: Tools & Techniques and Create Mood & Atmosphere with Color & Value, I couldn’t believe how much I learned about thinning acrylics with water. Most of what I’ve acquired about acrylics has been through mixed media painting where mediums are king, and I just sort of never thought about thinning acrylics with water. (I'm incredibly embarrassed to admit this publicly by the way, but it’s true, and one of the small disadvantages of being self-taught.)


Also, Hugh Greer uses the Sta-Wet palette. I could have saved hundreds of dollars in dried out pigments over the past 10 years if I’d picked up on that sooner. But I didn’t. I’m so glad I rewatched that video.


The other magical thing about DVDs is that you have access to artists who work outside of your medium and it’s amazing how much you can learn that way. I listen in a different way when it’s not an acrylic video. Perhaps I’m even more open to ideas because it’s not my medium of choice. I reviewed Sterling Edwards’ watercolor DVDs recently and he talks a great deal about pigment load and brush wetness. I had never considered how those two things could affect my paintings. It’s opened up a whole new world of control to me that I didn’t even realize I was missing. Acrylic workshop don’t talk in that language as much as watercolor workshops do. I may have never come across that idea in acrylic workshops.  


Learning to paint is a wonderfully long path with many twists and turns. There are a lot of amazing learning resources out there to bring with you on the path. I feel very lucky to have DVD workshops as a part of mine.


How do DVD workshops help you in your learning to paint? Do you learn new information on various passes? Please tell us in the comments below!