Saturday, January 24, 2009

How Do You Learn?

Monochromatic Watercolor
from a Wet Canvas tutorial
Jan Gibson

I signed up for a sort of class on an art forum I belong to and have been wondering if I've done the right thing. I'm not someone who wants kudos all the time (although they're sure nice from time to time - grin) but I prefer real help and really want to learn as much as I can.

The reason I'm wondering if this class will be useful is because of the way I learn.

It only dawned on me today that I learn things a lot differently than many of my cohorts. I remember finally getting internet service way back in the year 2001 (hey, we're really rural!) and being utterly smitten with things called sig tags made in Paint Shop Pro. There were also neat greeting cards and beautiful designs on a variety of cyber objects and I just had to have this marvelous software.

Well, when I got it, I had no idea of how to even begin to use it. I had a couple of internet friends who said "the best way to learn it is to just play with it." Yeah, right - it's the best way for them since that's the way they learn but not me.

I finally found hundreds of tutorials online with step-by-step instructions with photos on how to do just about anything in this magical program. They were life-saving as I've discovered that step-by-step, in detail, is how I learn best.

Once I understand the basics of something, I can take off and fly on my own and even become pretty inventive but it's getting those basics in a way I can understand that is so difficult.

I must be in the minority when it comes to painting, especially with watercolor, as most tutorials aren't in a real detailed step-by-step format. And the WIPs that everyone else loves? They still leave me wondering "How'd you do that?!!"

I think it's important to know the way you learn best so you can match up workshops with instructors that fit your way of learning. It would also be helpful for workshop instructors to be specific about the way they teach.

So, my question is, will this class help or just increase my frustration? When I asked more about the class, I was told that it would be anything we wanted it to be. Now that helps, doesn't it?

OK, so how do you learn?


Christine said...

Hi Jan
I totally get what you are saying because that's just the same way I learn. Visually, step-by-step, in small detailed increments and explanations about how and why something is done. If I get the how and why then it's a piece of cake most of the time. I have found that many "classes" ( and books) are nothing more than someone pointing in the direction, but not giving all the information for a comprehensive understanding. That's up to you to find out on your own through trial and error. Most of the time this leaves me frustrated. I always read and research about a subject to get an understanding first before trying my hands on it.
Recently I bought a couple of Cd's from a well known watercolor artist, which went along with the book she had written, thinking she would go a little more into the detail of “why and how”, but instead she just paints a couple extremely hard paintings, without explanation on color mixing and how to achieve those colors she used. As for me, that was money down the drain and another couple of Cd's which go on a pile of useless “learning material”. Grrrrr...very frustrating! Although I was duly impressed by her skill.

Looking at your piece, I think the drawing looks sweet and has a nice feel to it.

Jan said...

Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who learns by seeing instead of by doing! (Think we might be twins separated at birth? lol)

If I have a "happy little accident" & do something right while playing, it doesn't stick because I don't consciously know how I achieved it! Frustrates me to no end!

I guess we'll just have to start our very own "learning club"!

~Barbara~ said...

I thought I was your twin separated at birth.....

Jan said...

Lol, Barbara! Maybe we're triplets and just didn't realize it?