I was, very briefly, a wannabe visual artist.
It was the early 2000s, and I was a second-year undergrad at the University of Saskatchewan (go Huskies!). I was studying music (classical voice), but I wanted to take a visual art elective even though I (a) didn’t need it for my course requirements, and (b) 100% did not have time. Also for those who don’t know, this is classic Kayleigh behaviour – love me some enthusiastic but unnecessary overcommitting.
But I was dead set on it. I had taken private painting lessons as a teen and had always loved to draw and create, and I wanted to stretch my artistic muscles past choir rehearsals and practice room technique sessions. I settled on Printmaking 100 (a time-intensive year-long course), and off I went.
Long story short, I fell madly in love with printmaking and even sought advice on piecing together a double degree BMus/BFA (which was a terrible idea and thank heavenly Jesus my advisor recommended I abandon it before I had an inevitable breakdown).
What I definitely didn’t abandon, however, was my love of visual art. I had been raised in a household that valued art (my parents used the modest spending money they had to buy paintings and ceramics from local artists to decorate our little suburban house, we had my graphic designer mom’s art books from college laying around, and we always visited the museum when on vacation anywhere). But, I wouldn’t say I was particularly knowledgeable about the history of art or how to appreciate art when I hit this college course.
Hell, I wouldn’t say I am especially knowledgeable now! I still consider myself an in-progress art lover.
But that’s why I really, truly love visual art: there is always more to learn, and the learning is so enjoyable. When I read about an artist, flip through a coffee table book or art website, or visit a gallery or museum, I can feel myself getting wiser – not just about art, but about myself. I’m taking in beauty, and making the inside of me more beautiful as I do it.
That’s why I want to tell you how to start learning about visual art.
So… where do I even start?
Visual art can seem intimidating, and that’s because of the crock of shit you’ve been told about things that are “smart” or “classy.” So listen to me (read me?) very carefully:
Loving. Art. Is. Not. Hard.
“Getting” art is not hard. Understanding art is not hard. Enjoying art is not hard.
People who throw their hands in the air and say “I’m too dumb for art” or, even more infuriating, “that’s not for people like me because I’m not educated/rich/fancy enough” are wrong. And maybe you’re that person right now, and that’s okay – you are a result of your circumstances and what people around you say and believe. But you don’t have to believe it.
So repeat after me: ART IS FOR ME.
Okay, good. Where you start is getting your mind right. All you need to be is curious – that’s it. You don’t need any degrees or diplomas to make you curious. You don’t need to have been born in a certain area or to well-educated or wealthy parents. You don’t need to be “young enough to start”, or “old enough to appreciate.”
Second affirmation: ART IS FOR EVERYONE.
Got that curious mindset turned on? Now you’re ready.
There are tons of ways to start learning about the visual arts, but here’s a super easy one. Below is a list of 10 very, very famous visual artists. All you have to do is Google them. That’s your task for today! That’s how you break the ice on becoming an art fan. Skim their Wikipedia pages (I’m not joking), click through Google Image results, and if you see something you love, make it your desktop wallpaper.
That’s. Freakin’. It. (For now.) That’s where you start!
Here are 10 of the most famous artists of all time to kick off your own lifelong love affair with art. You won’t love all of them off the bat, but guaranteed at least one will absolutely speak to something inside you. Click around, and enjoy!
10 VISUAL ARTISTS TO GET STARTED
Vincent Van Gogh