How Long Does it Take?

Many people begin attending art school with unrealistic expectations. The common misunderstanding is that after a couple of classes you will become a good artist. The reality is that it takes much longer than that. Commonly between 5 to 10 years of proper training to reach a level of proficiency.

And expect to repeat courses up to 15 times to truly master the specific topic. Some classes such as perspective, composition, and color theory might take only 2-3 times to learn the necessary information, but other classes like portrait drawing, figure drawing, and plein air painting take many years of repetition to master. Just because you have completed a course doesn’t mean you know everything about the topic. The curriculum for a common college program does not apply to learning how to draw and paint – complete course A and move on to course B. Complete course B and move on to course C)

When attending an art class you will only learn information that you are ready to learn at the time. When you retake the course a year later you will learn new information that you were not ready to learn a year before.

The problem is that when people realize this, many get discouraged. “There is so much to learn. Where do I start? 10 years is such a long road!” But it’s important to realize that you will see progress from the beginning. Those baby steps will keep you going. Every inch of progress is exciting.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Everybody’s path is different. There is no perfect order for classes. Study the areas you are weakest in and eventually your strengths will outnumber your weaknesses.

If the length intimidates you, realize that the 10 years will pass whether you are studying or not. Everybody always wishes they had started earlier. The question is, when the 10 years do pass, where do you want to be? Do you still want to be wishing you knew how to draw? If you get discouraged and quit, odds are 10 years from now you will think “If I had stuck with it, I would have been really good by now.”

So, do yourself a favor and take that first step. Keep your chin up and stay positive. Celebrate every step no matter how small. You will not regret it. 10 years from now, you won’t look back and think “what if?”


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