Are you learning to color from online videos?
You’re not alone.
As you move from work to home and social circles, you won’t meet many Copic Marker experts. Most of your friends last used a colored pencil in 10th grade geography class.
There are a lot of people who teach artistic coloring, but they’re not conveniently living next door.
Online though? You’ll find tons of free videos, blogs, and even paid classes and long format courses.
YouTube has enough Copic videos to keep you busy for months and they’re free, free, FREE!
It seems like you could learn everything about coloring on the internet.
But that’s NOT true.
Yes, you might learn a few coloring techniques using nothing but online resources.
But learning to color well?
Learning to color like an artist?
That takes something more than free videos and a Pinterest board full of marker recipes.
Today, let’s talk about the limits of online coloring education.
online learning is great!
Most of my classes are held online now, not in-person. So I’m not about to kick myself in the nose here.
Online classes are a very good thing.
But they’re not everything.
Wait, just hear me out on this. I’m a teacher who really cares about creating the best possible learning environment. I’m not here to become rich on YouTube or sell automated courses from my La-Z-Boy.
I’m really trying to figure out this video-learning thing.
And I want to be honest with you about the pitfalls of online education.
People learn more and they learn better from in-person art classes.
Online learning can not replace the art classroom.
There are special things that happen when humans gather together in a room to explore art together.
But I see a lot of potential in online learning. It may be better in the future but we’re not there yet.
Honest talk here: I’ve yet to see a single free video or online coloring lesson that’s worth as much as it would be if it were taught in-person by a competent artist.
And I include my videos in that mix. I am not as good online as I am in person. But I’m working on it.
So what’s wrong with online learning right now?
And more importantly, what am I doing about it?
Coloring videos are fun
If a video isn’t entertaining, you will not watch it. There is no reason make videos if nobody is watching.
So the most watched videos right now are either slick presentations or super-happy-fun-time. The focus is entertainment and engagement.
Getting you to tune in and keep tuning in. That’s engagement.
More engaged viewers get more exposure for the video which then theoretically earns more money.
But notice what’s missing in this discussion?
When the intent of a coloring video is entertainment, we lose vital parts of the artistic process.
The drive to attract more viewers can work against good quality, solid, and effective education.
Think back to the third grade.
If Mrs. McGillicuddy had given you the choice of spelling tests or recess, which would you have voted for?
Ha! None of us would know how to spell now, would we?
In coloring education today, third graders run the school.
Don’t believe me? Let me ask, what videos do you watch on YouTube?
The fun ones.
What stamps do you buy?
The cute ones.
And which tutorials do you try?
The quick & easy ones.
But hey, can you draw?
I’m serious here. I’m sincerely asking WHY have you not learned to draw?
So you’re telling me that you’ve been watching coloring videos and taking online coloring classes for months or even years. You are seeking greater depth and realism. You’re asking questions about three dimensional rendering. You’re trying to develop an artistic voice and style…
And yet you can’t draw a damned thing?
Sorry to be harsh, but it’s true.
The self-serve tutorial & technique online format lets you pick nothing but candy. You skipped everything that looked unfun.
Now your coloring is flat and you don’t understand light sources?
It’s because you voted for recess.
Videos are unnatural
A viewer complained that she got seasick watching my very first first speed coloring video.
She wasn’t being mean; she had an excellent point.
Once she pointed it out, I couldn’t unsee it. I turn my paper as I color. At 400x normal speed, my project whirled like a tornado.
So I started taping my project to the desk. No more nauseous viewers.
I noticed that students developed weird problems they didn’t have before. Flicks were crooked or hooked, There were directionality issues where the blends had a curved feel. People were coloring across the grain instead of with it.
It was my fault.
By mounting my project to the desk, I gave the impression that I always mount my project to the desk.
In reality, I pivot my paper constantly, but you’d never know that from the videos!
What works on camera does not automatically work in real life.
If you only see what the camera sees, you will never experience authentic coloring.
The camera skews. The camera lies.
The camera also misses a lot.
Students always want a tight shot. They want to zoom in close on the nib of my marker.
But folks, that ain’t the Holy Grail.
What I’m doing off camera is far more important.
Let me ask: what does your elbow do while you’re coloring?
So you’ve never thought about your elbow, shoulder or torso?
Want to know why? Because of the camera.
Good coloring comes from the shoulder NOT the fingers. You can’t see my body if you’re looking at my marker.
You also don’t understand speed. Time lapse and your finger on the pause button distorts all sense of time and fluidity.
Every time I color live for a group, someone always says the same thing:
Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how fast you color!
But if you want to blend well and color like an artist, speed is a major factor. You can’t learn speed from YouTube.
The narration problem…
Some videos are narrated in real time during the demonstration. Others (like me) narrate hours or days after the coloring has been filmed.
Both styles have problems.
Most people narrate as they color because it’s quicker and requires less editing later. But ohhhh man, live narration can lead to really bad instruction.
“Well uhm, today I wanted to show you errr, how I, uhm, this is a warm red which uh, did you know, err…”
or even worse:
“So like we’re adding lots of shade to like this area here and you can like maybe hear my dog barking in the background because like he’s a schnauzer and he like loves to like…”
Sweet baby Moses in a basket! What are you trying to teach me???
I’m not trying to be cruel here. I know firsthand, It’s hard to talk well and color at the same time!
Let me say that again. It’s extremely hard to talk and color.
I’ll be honest: I can’t.
All of my YouTube videos are narrated post-coloring because I do not always speak clearly while I’m working.
That’s normal. Art is a non verbal process.
If you are deep in artist mode, you will not have verbal capacity.
At maximum creativity, the language centers of your brain shut down.
To make your best work, you must be in a mental place where words have no meaning.
So ask yourself, have you ever paid attention to the narration method in a video as you watch it?
It’s pretty darned important!
If a person is talking WHILE they’re coloring? That’s a sign that they are not doing their best coloring.
And if they’re talking while they’re coloring they’re not doing their best instructing either!
You can’t do both and do them both well.
But viewers don’t think about this. You treat everything in a video as super important and always correct, right?
If you see it done, you do it too.
If you hear it said, you follow the advice
But oh, I can’t tell you how many students have come to me quoting some video where the instructions sounded odd or the method was unclearly demonstrated. It’s almost always a case of a very good artist who was talking and coloring at the same time.
Now I’m not saying that classroom instruction is any better. The teacher is still trying to demonstrate and talk at the same time.
In a classroom, there is no bouncy banjo music filling the dead air.
In a classroom, when the teacher goes silent, it’s a holy fudge! moment.
You can’t miss it; everything and everyone goes still. Oh so slowly and silently, we lean in close to get a better view of the project. You hold your breath because this is when the magic happens.
I get tingles just thinking about those moments of silence.
I’ve seen average instructors make amazing art in the silence.
Your art will change in the silence.
And you’ll never experience that in a video because of the banjo and the err uhm uhs.
Breaks & Mistakes!
Creation is not efficient. Life is not smooth.
I go to the bathroom 900 times a day. The dog barks at the UPS guy. Teen angst must be soothed. Or some crazy Texan texts me to ask if her face looks fat.
But in my videos, I color blissfully for hours.
Uhm… not even close. I’ve had weeks elapse between some scenes!
Guess what else happens?
I drop my marker
I can’t find my Indigo pencil
I color outside the lines
I pick up the wrong marker and color a leaf pink
A blend looks choppy so I blend it again
No one wants a video of all my many, many mistakes.
Here’s the sad thing though, we learn more from fixing oopses than we learn from smooth perfection.
And don’t think that with years of experience, you’ll do everything perfect. The pros make lots of messes and you can learn a lot from watching them wing it.
But most videos skip the mistakes, either because it’s embarrassing or we don’t want you to repeat the error.
What else gets edited out?
If I color for an hour, about 20 minutes of that is spent thinking.
I think about what color to use; then I think about what color to use next. I wonder what would happen if I did this or that. Decrease the shade? Add a highlight?
I also think about why I did what I did instead of doing what I’d planned.
Yes, my head is a busy place.
You can’t make anything good if you don’t stop and think.
Videos don’t show the thinking time.
Half of what I edit out of videos are prolonged nothings. My hand hovers aimlessly. I wait for markers to blend. And for some reason, I do stutter-starts and practice swishes where it looks like I’m coloring but I’m not.
That’s thinking time.
I edit that stuff out because it’s boring or confusing.
I’ve started leaving in some of the shorter pauses, just to help students understand how much thinking I do. And I try to mention when there’s an extended break so that you understand the passage of time.
But it’s still not an accurate portrayal of the real coloring process.
Good artists daydream and make hella mistakes. Yet you’ve been given the impression that it’s all sunshine and singing mice. It’s a wicked trick that keeps students misinformed.
Videos make professionals look more professional.
Real coloring isn’t like that.
So what’s the solution?
Well, you need to up your education game a bit.
Take more than card coloring classes
Watch more challenging videos aimed at artists rather than colorers
Find instructors who explain why they do something, instead of playing Simon Says
And maybe take a local drawing class?
Yes, I said it.
I know it sounds scary but learning to draw, even if you always draw badly… the concepts taught in drawing classes will improve your coloring far more than you realize. Depth and dimension come from understanding form and drawing teaches you to see form.
You need to take more in-person classes.
I know it’s hard to find a good class and once you find one, it’s hard to make the commitment to go and to keep going regularly.
But you will learn more from an art instructor than you will from a coloring instructor. And you’ll learn more from either of them if you’re in the same room.
So at this point, someone always asks when I’ll start doing more guest classes around the country.
But the life of a travelling instructor is not what I want.
It’s not right for my family but it’s also not right for me. I’m happiest at home and with my simple routines and quiet studio.
Which is why I’m starting to expand my Livestream classes…
I’m excited about livestreams!
Vanilla Livestream classes are live broadcasts with interactive elements rather than edited presentations.
Because they’re live lessons, anything can happen.
It’s real time coloring in a real setting.
It’s as close to my classroom environment as online learning can get.
Vanilla Livestreams alleviate some of the problems with video learning:
Impact over Entertainment: I offer more than step-by-steps and cartoon cards. Every Livestream tackles an important fine art concept that you won’t find in the average coloring video. We cover time tested artistic mindsets and methods which will improve your coloring overall.
Natural Coloring: We’ve added a second camera so that you can watch me color while I’m coloring. You need to see more than giant fingers on a screen to understand the movement of coloring. Livestreams now give you both views. And nothing is sped up or slowed down to give you a feel for the tempo of painting with markers.
Magic Moments: Livestreams feel more like real classes because we’re not afraid to let the artistic brain take over. We break the engagement rules and actually go silent. There are long moments when only the markers speak. You can not be coached into good coloring! Having the teacher be vulnerable and demonstrate from the creative no-words zone is incredibly important.
Oops: You’ll see me make mistakes and watch me fix them. You’ll see me change my mind and what happens when I pick up the wrong marker. I’ll explain why I don’t like something. Things won’t go as planned, because that’s life!
Unfinished: It sounds crazy but my Livestreams end before the project is finished. Most classes teach only bite sized subjects that fit into short videos. But the average artist can work a piece for weeks or months! Livestreams show you how to start bigger challenges. Then they leave you with the tools and motivation to create and explore in your own time.
Check out Amy’s favorite art supplies, click above.
Our new home!
We’ve built a new home for Vanilla Livestream.
It’s a BIG home too, with room for growth and expansion.
Vanilla Livestreams have been hosted at Patreon for years but every month we strain against the limitations of the platform. There were many things we couldn’t do there. So instead of spending my Patreon pennies on PopTarts and vodka, I’ve been saving for a new website.
It’s open now and I can’t wait for you to join us there!
Everything on the same website
DO NOT WORRY!
VanillaArts.com is not going anywhere.
Instead, all the classes, all the Workshops, all the discussion groups and message boards from everywhere else… it’s all coming home.
We’re moving everything to VanillaArts.com
The Livestream is the first of several changes. VanillaArts.com will become a one stop education and community hub.
the value of values
Copic Marker and Prismacolor Colored Pencil
Vintage Home Run uses Power Poppy's “Baseball Vignette”
Livestream students receive 20% off this digital stamp during the month of September, 2019
Live Broadcast on Saturday, September 14th at 11am EDT
Livestream recording is available until December 2019.
Subscribe today for instant access to a rotating selection of three archived lessons + the monthly broadcast.
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What is Vanilla LiveStream?
Real coloring in real time.
I walk you through my artistic process, discussing the project at hand but also how to apply the lesson to your independent coloring.
I make mistakes live; you’ll watch me fix them (or deal with the unfixable).
Plus, you can ask lots of questions. That’s something you can’t do with blog tutorials or pre-packaged video classes!
We always cover lots of artsy tips and realism tricks which you can apply to tons of other projects.
Can't attend live?
Not a problem!
Livestreams are recorded and archived in the Livestream library for subscribers to watch on demand. There are always three months of lessons available; watch as many times as you want.
Class Printable Pack Includes:
Class syllabus with detailed recipe guide
Full color project sample, guide to shading
Detailed color map
Project inspiration references.
Join me for an amazing lesson in our brand new home!!!
This demonstration will change the way you think about color.
You can do this!
Supplies used in Vintage HOme Run:
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