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Why was the Beginner’s School started?
The Founder of Renewing the Renaissance, Phil Shemanski, was interested in learning about making art but found that while there was a wealth of information on the internet, none of the instruction was geared towards the true beginner—the person considering art for the very first time. Art instruction online assumed a basic knowledge of art. Phil decided to create a website for the very beginning art student that would be available and free to any person with internet access worldwide.
We believe—and studies support—that practicing some form of art increases creativity, helps combat cognitive decline in the senior age group, and improves test scores in students. Thinking creatively is also essential to solving future world challenges that require “outside-the-box” approaches and many businesses look for this type of problem-solving ability in employees. Learning an art form is also a great way to connect with others who share a mutual interest, such as a child or grandchild.
How do I decide which course to start with?
Many artists will tell you learning how to draw is a very important base skill, so you can’t go wrong starting with the drawing course. Those who prefer working with their hands in 3-dimensions may want to try our sculpting course next. We think most students will tend to select a painting course, if they have a workable studio space to paint in, and can buy the recommended supplies. If you’re unsure of where to start, check out our lesson Choosing Your First Course.
Why are there 3 painting courses to choose from—acrylic, oil or watercolor?
Each painting course is designed to teach the student about painting in general (color theory, perspective, composition etc.) as well as how to work specifically with the selected type of paint.
Although it may seem like painting is just painting, the different painting media (or types of paint) have very distinct working properties. Choosing which paint is best for you will depend on your budget and available studio space. We walk students through which paint to choose to work with based on these and a few other factors. Read through Choosing Your Paint to learn about some of the main differences between acrylic, oil, and watercolor paints, then use our unique approach to making your paint selection.
What is a studio, and do I need one?
A studio is a place where an artist works, much like an office for a business person. Preferably, it’s a place with internet access, free from the disturbances of others. Depending on the course you choose, you may not need a studio. For example, if you choose painting and plan on painting en plein air, your studio can be the great outdoors! Check out our Setting Up Your Studio lessons for much more information about artist studios as well as our plein air lessons for information on painting outside.
Where should I buy art materials if I am just starting out? And what should I buy?
There are a lot of places you can go to buy great art supplies. Find your nearest art supply store and utilize the knowledge of the people working there if you need help to find or figure out what you need. Before you go, print out your course recommendation list for the appropriate course: drawing, acrylic, oil, watercolor, or sculpture. If there aren’t any art supply stores near you or you have trouble getting to one, you can always order art supplies online from a variety of retailers. In the U.S., DickBlick.com and jerrysartarama.com have great prices and supplies for every level of artist, so be sure to check what’s available. But first, have a scavenger hunt for some supplies you may already have! Read through the Supplies and What Do I Need to Buy lesson for your selected course to find out more.
What is the purpose of these 6 buttons going down the right side?
The first button (showing a + sign) allows students to bookmark (save) a page they want to come back to. This is a great way to remember where you left off!
To return to where you were, simply go to your Bookmarks folder in your browser window and click on your Beginner’s School bookmark. We recommend deleting your older Beginner’s School bookmarks to avoid confusion.
The five other buttons include email and social media, allowing you to easily share with your friends the topics that mean the most to you. We encourage you to use them to spread the word about the Beginner’s School!
Using the Student Resource Center (SRC)
What is the Student Resource Center and why did Renewing the Renaissance (RTR) develop it?
We know how difficult it can be for students and even experienced artists to find the right art information quickly online. We end up wasting precious time looking for information when we could have been creating. At the Beginner’s School SRC, we strive to compile only the best and most useful tutorials, tips, videos, and techniques all in one place. With everything in one easy-to-search place, our hope is that we’ll be saving you a lot of time by not having to evaluate the results of an endless Google search list.
We decided to open the SRC to everyone with the hope that artists worldwide will share their own tips and techniques with our beginning art students. Shared knowledge is critical to the SRC and to recreating the collaborative spirit of the ateliers of the Renaissance.
How can new students use the SRC?
The SRC can be a great source of further explanation if a beginning student wants more information on a specific topic.
For students who have just completed their Beginner’s School course, looking through the articles in their area of interest (drawing, painting, sculpture) is a great way to figure out their next step. Try out some techniques or paintings on your own—with video or text instruction from other artists. Keep on growing your new creative skill!
How do I search for a specific topic?
On the upper right-hand side of the homepage, you will see a search bar. Type in what you’re searching for (e.g. “watercolor,” “linseed oil,” etc.) then press the red “search” button. Your search results will appear listed by relevance and date.
How do I narrow my search by using multiple subjects (‘tags’)?
You can search for a specific topic by inputting one or more tags. For example, if you want to learn how to paint a sailboat on water using oil, you could search “boat, water, oil paint.” Separate the tags/topics with commas and the results will appear listed by relevance and date added.
Why are there also articles on nutrition and exercise?
As students and artists, many of us tend to sit hunched over our work all day without taking proper breaks or eating appropriately. This section is to remind us all to take a breath once in a while and have a healthy snack (away from your work area, of course), exercise and get some blood flowing. By taking care of yourself, you will help your studies, increase your creativity, and live a healthier life so you can keep on creating!
How do I submit my tips or techniques?
If you have a written tutorial, step-by-step guide, or a helpful video you’d like to share with other creative people, send it to us! Fill out our Contact Us form and we will consider it for inclusion on the SRC. If you are sharing a video, please include the YouTube link.
How do you decide what’s included in the SRC?
Our staff reviews hundreds of articles to find only the best tips, tutorials, videos, and techniques for painting, sculpting, art basics, nutrition, exercise, artist block and current art culture. If we think it’s interesting, we’ll include it! Don’t be disappointed if we don’t select your tip or technique—we may already have something similar to it. By submitting again you will be helping future artists of the world for all time.
How do I find out if my tip or technique has been included in the SRC?
Due to a large number of submissions we receive, we may not get back to you right away, so be patient. We will get back to you by e-mail as soon as we can.
Will I receive any compensation if my article is accepted?
Unfortunately, we cannot compensate anyone for submitting articles. Still, you get good RTR karma points for helping us and future generations of artists!
Can I submit a tip to SRC even if I didn’t create it?
If you have the express permission of the author (or person who owns the article/tutorial/video/etc.) and submit that with the article, then yes, we will consider posting it to the SRC. If you don’t have permission, we can’t. But you can encourage the creator to submit it and leave their imprint on future artists of the world. As artists, we respect the copyright of other creator’s intellectual property just as we want ours respected too.
What can I do if I think a tip or technique is being used in the SRC without permission?
If you feel an article is infringing on copyright law, let us know. How to do that is described in our Terms of Service. We’ll remove it right away if the submission is found to be infringing on copyright.
What if I think an article in the SRC could be improved?
If you think you have a better article, or an additional idea to overcome artist’s block, then submit it! Make sure that you have the rights to post it (either gain permission from the author or better yet—write it yourself).
Submissions to the Beginner’s School
Why and how do students submit selected photos of their work?
In each course lesson, we have one or more exercises. For those exercises involving drawing, painting, or sculpting, we want to share some examples of what Beginner’s School students have done so that new students can see and learn from the experience of their peers for each exercise.
How to submit your photo? Merely complete the Beginner’s School submission form and attach a clear photo of your work. Be sure to select the correct course and lesson for the work you are submitting!
To encourage beginner students to submit photos of their exercise work, students sending submissions will also automatically be entered into our monthly free gift card drawing for art supplies. Click the Gift Card banner on the Home Page for more information on this.
How do you decide what photos will be included as examples of student work?
If we think it will add to a beginning student’s learning experience or help them with the exercise, we’ll include it! If we don’t select your photo—we may already have chosen something similar to it. So share again—you are eligible for the gift card drawing each month you submit too!
Can I Instagram my student work?
Absoutely! Upload a photo of your student work to Instagram and tag us @beginnersschool so we can see what you’ve done! You can also use hashtags like #beginnersschooldrawing, #beginnersschoolpainting, or #beginnersschoolsculpting so we know which course your image is from.
What if I have comments about a Beginner’s School course to share?
If you think a School course could be improved, don’t be shy! Use our Contact Us form and tell us how to improve the school. We will review all Beginner’s School comments and consider them in our bi-yearly updates to the courses.
Supporting the Beginner’s School
I want to help RTR and the Beginner’s School by giving some of my available time! Is this possible?
If you’re interested in interning for us (i.e. volunteer for free) and renew the Renaissance, you can submit a resume and cover letter indicating areas of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for donating your time! You can support us monetarily as well by clicking on the “Support Us!” button on the right-hand side of the homepage.
Why is the Beginner’s School free online for individuals, yet you charge a $1 fee per user yearly for schools, government, and businesses when their unique users are 20 or more?
Well, we do need revenue, after all, to support the website, manage the SRC and make this learning experience a unique one worldwide for us all.
We thank these entity site users for supporting beginning art students worldwide!
How does Renewing the Renaissance ‘give back’?
We believe art is important and supporting artists with challenges is how we give back at Renewing the Renaissance. At RTR, we work with artists with challenges such as high functioning autism, medical impediments, and executive functioning disorders. All the details can be found on our website RenewingtheRenaissance.com, where you can purchase original fine art, reproductions, or even commission a personalized art piece.