Art Education Evolved


© Oatley Academy


I’m excited to be enrolled in the pilot year of the Oatley Academy with its passionate community of visual storytellers. It has already been inspiring to listen to Chris Oatley communicate struggles and successes on his own creative journey, and up to the recent launch of Oatley Academy, online and on his podcasts – the Artcast and the Paper Wings show. The new program, OA Live, looks to supplement independent artists with interaction, feedback, and mentoring. It came as a welcome opportunity to support Chris’ journey, and I’m excited to connect and collaborate with, and seek critique from, and accountability in a global community of visual storytellers. I’m looking to make my idea happen, and to encourage others to tell great stories.

Telling a great story is one of the most difficult creative challenges any of us will ever face. It’s hard to craft an immersive, emotional experience like the great stories you love. It’s hard to develop a visual style that is both efficient and effective. It’s hard to stay focused and motivated for the long haul. It’s hard to promote your work without being spammy. […] It’s easier when you surround yourself with passionate colleagues, trustworthy collaborators and inspiring teachers. (Oatley Academy)

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Oatley at CTN-X, back in 2013, along with a handful of engaging, enthusiastic pioneers of the OA community, and now, I’m eager to make more connections through OA Live.

“Nothing works without a crowd.” Chris warns, “Whether you go mainstream, indie or both, attention is essential.” It’s time I take steps toward healthy, sustainable balance in selfless self-promotion. A great step in that direction is to extend an invitation to you, and to the OA community, to join the journey—to change the way we look at wildlife.

Kickstarting Schoolism

I am also happy to have recently supported the efforts of Bobby Chiu, founder of Schoolism, to make access to the top artists affordable for all. It is “education evolved”—it is weekly lectures and assignments for both aspiring and professional artists to learn to paint and communicate their thoughts effectively.

In addition to the self-taught courses, Schoolism has an advanced stream with critique sessions and, once you hand in your assignment, the instructor records a personalized video response with a draw over discussing the work. Both streams are able to view the response videos of current classmates as well as some past students. These instructor critique videos are believed to be the true value of their courses.

You have a grey painting, find an opportunity for some warm accents; you have a dull brown painting, look for those cool atmospheric lights coming down into the shadows, and then those warms just come to life.” — Nathan Fowkes

© Nathan Fowkes, Study (2011)

Great education begins with great mentors. Here are a few of the Schoolism instructors I most anticipate learning from.

Having been introduced to the work of Nathan Fowkes, again at CTN-X, I am especially looking forward to seeing him break down his personal process – Designing with Color and Light – developing an idea by taking it through the stages of thumbnail comp, tonal rough, color rough and final color. And a second course with Nathan – Pictorial Composition – studying composition in art history, learning from the masters of mood, environment and story through pictorial composition.

Similarly, I am looking forward to two visual development courses by games industry veteran Sam Nielson; Fundamentals of Lighting, and Lighting for Story and Concept Art. These cover techniques based on the physical properties of light and matter; the interaction of light with different materials, building up to learning how to use lighting, surface, and atmosphere to make your characters and environments more striking and evocative.

© Sam Nielson, Rhino God (2012)

Sam shares his knowledge of lighting in the context of digital process, color theory, value mastery, and visual narrative, and in a way that teaches how to create images that clearly and beautifully express exactly what you want them to. (Schoolism)

Also, Schoolism recently brought on Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, creators of The Dam Keeper. I saw the animated short previewed at SIGGRAPH 2014 and absolutely loved the style, animation and story, and made mention of it in my conference recap, here. In their course, Painting with Light and Color, Dice and Robert pull from their experience of creating artwork for studios like Pixar and Blue Sky to discuss the fundamentals of observing color and light, color-scripting and telling a story.

© Tonko House, The Dam Keeper (2014)

I am an artist because I want to express something else about life; I am a person attempting to express my fascination with the world through the means of drawing, and perspective, and anatomy, and color.” — Craig Mullins

While both Schoolism and Oatley Academy are not accredited at this time, the instructors are likewise not restricted by an accreditation board, and have full control over what they feel is relevant to the industry. It’s a chance to learn from the best. I’m very excited, and commend Bobby Chiu for his initiative in creating the opportunity for artists to develop their design language under the influence of truly inspirational visual storytellers. Likewise, thanks again to Oats for bringing together an equally inspiring creator community.

See you in class!

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