Online Art Schools : Review

Hello all! I wanted to thank you guys for the awesome comments. It really makes me feel good knowing you guys enjoy the topics I write about. I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback lately and it really encourages me to want to make more content and continue with this blog. 

Today I wanted to write a post for you about my experiences with online art schools. Of course, these are my personal experiences. Some of you might find your experience to be different. But I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts about them in case some readers have been trying to decide if trying any of them out was worth it or not.  If you have an interest in checking any of them out just click the images to go to their website. 


Schoolism actually feels like art school. The instructors are top notch industry giants in animation, illustration and fine art, etc. You get assignments to do. They are seriously challenging. You will learn something if you listen to the instruction and do the work. Don’t pass on watching the critiques. You will learn a lot from those. 

The one drawback I can name is, in the last few months they have doubled their monthly costs to $30.  They did do away with the annoying $1 charge to switch classes, so now you can switch between the classes freely. But I think the price hike was a bit steep because they didn’t add any new classes or content. Even though the class count may be limited compared to other schools, the quality is far superior. I really loved all of the courses I took. If I could give them one suggestion it would be to add more traditional media courses. Most of them are geared towards digital media, though I worked my assignments with pencils and paint. There is also an option, you can take a full on course with the instructor giving you weekly critiques of your work. It does not come cheap – $998 per course. 

Art Tutor

Art Tutor has a variety of courses geared towards the traditional media artist. I signed up with them specifically to take the courses on ink drawing. They did not disappoint. I stuck around for several months do several other courses and having fun learning different mediums. This site’s courses also have the feeling of a real art school. Many of the classes have assignments to do. The courses are of excellent quality and I learned many tips and tricks. At €17  per month I felt the value was excellent. Again, if you follow the instruction and do the work, you will learn and improve whatever medium you are studying. 


I’m actually looking back through their classes and debating a resub. I think they may have even added a few new ones that look pretty cool. 

This group is affiliated with North Light. You may have visited their website or seen some of their books on Amazon.  They publish art and craft books on a massive range of topics. Anywho, they also have a channel with more than 700 classes on all sorts of media. My biggest interest was drawing, ink drawing and watercolor. The courses were pretty good. Claudia Nice does some watercolor and ink courses. I LOVE her work and have a few of her books, so this was huge for me to get to watch her process.

The classes are mostly follow along style. A little YouTubish, but overall informative. The price is $19.99 a month for total access. Maybe a little high in terms of quality but it makes up for it in quantity. Seriously, you could be on here forever and never run out of videos to watch. 

The Virtual Art Instructor

This is a cool site run by instructor Matt Fussel. His courses are really top quality and worth checking out if you are a traditional media artist. It really helped me up my ink drawing game. He has a week trial for $1 and then $19 a month after. Sometimes he runs special offers and you can sub even cheaper. Some of his videos are completely free and you can view them on YouTube .  As a full member you can download the videos and ebooks from the site and watch them as many times as you like. I really enjoyed his courses. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough to keep me around for long. 

Society of Visual Storytelling

SVS is the brainchild of illustrators Will Terry, Lee White and Jake Parker. You might remember Jake Parker as the guy who started Inktober. 

SVS is mainly geared around children’s book illustration. There were some classes on ink drawing and comic creation, which is why I subbed. THE absolute coolest thing about this school is the courses on the industry side. Yes, they discuss how to get a contract, what contracts  are bad and which ones are good, legal pitfalls,  what should you be getting paid, ethical practices in the industry and other awesome topics no one ever talks about. 


According to the reviews I read some people feel they can’t live their lives without Skillshare. I hated this site with the burning passion of 1000 suns. You can get 2 months trial sub for 99 cents. After that it is $11 a month. If you search around you can find discount codes. I think I got one for $8 for a month. Even after I tried it and hated it I went back and paid for a month because I wanted to take Yuko Shamizu’s ink drawing class. As much as I love her work her class was disappointing. Most of the classes on there I found disappointing. There were a few gems – Jen Dixon’s ink drawing/ watercolor classes were informative. Rob Marzullo’s comic creation courses were good. However, he also does them for free on YouTube, so why pay for it? Truthfully that is exactly Skillshare reminds me of- YouTube you pay for. The classes are mostly low quality. They are not vetted for quality by the company. Anyone can make a class and post it. Many of the videos are only a few minutes long and teach you nothing. Lots of the “instructors” can’t even make themselves understood. Seriously, save your money and go elsewhere unless you have a buck burning a hole in your pocket and nothing better to do. / LinkedIn has been bought out by LinkedIn and is now LinkedIn Learning. You can still sign up through the site- which I am posting a link to here because it is slightly easier to navigate. You can sign up with the site with your LinkedIn account information. 

This site boasts a huge library of classes (according to their website anyway) which are nearly impossible to find. You can do a search for topics and get a short list of about 6 recommended topics. If you click on those topics you get other recommendations based on what you are looking for. In short,  this site severely pisses me off. The saving grace is you can get an entire month free to attempt navigating through this nightmare if you have a credit card or a Paypal account. They also invite you to cancel ahead of time if you hate it and they won’t bill you further. 

I have found a few comics creation courses and drawing courses. So far the quality of them seems to be pretty good. Most of the topics they offer, at least in the topics list you can find on Lydia (if you dig deep enough you can find a somewhat tragically ordered list of keywords) seem to be geared towards business classes and learning software programs. I’m going to watch the comics creation videos and be done with it. Hey, free is free. 


March Art Prompt

Typography Oddity - Ode to Cemeteries

My sincerest apologies, guys. I know it’s been a while since I updated the site.  I won’t bore you with the details, but this year is starting out to be quite hectic. To boot, I have had the flu for the last week. I appreciate the encouragement from you guys to get me back moving and get this post out. I promise from here on out to do better.  I have another post coming up soon. That one will be a review of online art schools based on my personal experiences. So make sure you check it out if online art class is something you are interested in trying. 

Ok so here is the March art prompt. For this one the list is a quote for the odd numbers. You can work it out as typography, whichever font you like or one you have created yourself. You decide.  If typography isn’t your thing use the quote as a prompt. For the even numbers I have listed a cemetery. Google, or if you happen to be lucky enough to have visited one (or more) locations use your own reference photos and make a sketch from each location.  I am quite the cemetery fanatic and have been to 3 of the cemeteries on the list- Abney Park, Highgate, and City of London. I would love to visit the rest on the list. I think they are awesome places filled with atmosphere and history. 


  1. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. Highgate, London
  3. Go then, there are other worlds than these. – Stephen King, Gunslinger
  4. Pere Lachaise, Paris
  5. I knew nothing but shadows and I thought them to be real. – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  6. Abney Park, London
  7. Vengeance was one hell of a roommate. J.R. Ward, Dark Lover
  8. City of the Dead, Paris Catacombs
  9. Now it’s the dark’s turn to be afraid. Joseph Delaney, Curse of the Bane
  10. Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans, La.
  11. Follow your heart, just don’t get lost. – Ilsa J. Bick, Draw the Dark.
  12. Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx, New York
  13. Darkness promotes speech. – Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night
  14. Powaski Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland
  15. The brightest light casts the darkest shadow. – Jess C. Scott, The Darker Side of Life
  16. City of London Cemetery, London
  17. Darkness is just light turned inside out. – Beelzebub
  18. Montmartre Cemetery, Paris
  19. I love to chase my shadow to feel how it rests in the dark. – Munia Khan
  20. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
  21. Here in the forest, dak and deep, I offer you eternal sleep. – unknown
  22. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, Midlothian, Il.
  23. The night is dark and full of terrors. – George RR Martin
  24. Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland
  25. I killed a part of me to keep you alive. – unknown
  26. Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia
  27. You are here because the outside world rejects you. – unknown
  28. Brompton Cemetery, London
  29. Hello darkness my old friend. – Simon and Garfunkel
  30. Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

Art Prompt – January 2018

Happy New Year all! This prompt is not going to be a list. Instead, I thought doing something more in the spirit of new year resolutions was in order. December was a super hectic month. I did’t get as much art done as I would have liked. I did get 5 pages of thumbnails for my comic sketched out, and one page penciled. So there is that. I would like to get back into the habit of drawing every day. And that is what this resolution is about. So I have decided this month’s prompt is to do the Draw 100 Challenge. 

With this challenge you can pick any subject(s) you have weaknesses in and practice them until you get it right. Really tighten up your skills. Do it a little every day. For me this is going to involve drawing eyes until I get them right! Good luck and let’s fill up some sketchbooks. 

Diary of an Art Block

    I wanted to start off by saying thank you to the 336 subscribers to my blog. That’s more readers than I ever hoped to have, ever, and I’ve only had this up and running since August. That is extremely encouraging and makes me want to work my arse off making this site as interesting as possible.

Of course by the time I get this artwork done last night I get another subscriber first thing this morning. You are not forgotten 337! You all rock. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and amazing New Year. 

    This post is going to be a little long so grab a drink and a snack and lets get on with it. 

Art Block Freakin' Sucks

    Art blocks can come on for a whole host of reasons. For me personally, anxiety and depression are the usual culprits. This time though, I had some major fatigue that washed over me last Feb/Mar and just wasn’t letting up. It had been bugging me off and on for a couple of years. I always kinda wrote it off as having 3 kids at home 5 y/o and under- of course I’m tired! Not like this though, and whatever was going on with me, it was sending my anxiety through the roof.

   Through this experience, I managed to keep sketchbooking, at least some of the time. I was being pretty damn stubborn about not wanting to lose all of the hard work and money I had invested in art supplies and online art lessons. Seemed a waste to get frustrated and give it up (again). 

   I thought it might be interesting to make a post, showing my sketchbook work during this period. Kind of a demonstration of how stress, lack of motivation/energy, medication struggles etc. can affect work- making quality suffer or even grinding productivity to a halt.  

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Ok, so let’s back this all the way up to last July. My anxiety meds got upped- a lot, turning me into a neurotic zombie. When I could manage to force myself to draw something I couldn’t seem to summon the required brain power to judge angles, gradations of color or value, or line quality.

Before medication increase.
After medication increase.

   So I go back to my regular dosage, and things pretty much go back to me being my edgy cantankerous self. Arting continues as usual. I start making plans to work on my comic. During this time I take a sleep study to try to figure out why I am always exhausted.

    I do all kinds of little character doodles for my comic. When it comes right down to the final outcome I find it lacking. It needs punch. I needs marks and hatching and grit. All of these things I love to see in other peoples’ work, but when I try to do it….

I do fine until I start working on those areas of shadow, then it all goes to hell. My hatching skills lack a lot to be desired, so I end up going the other way and doing everything in washes, which generally looks, well, boring. 

   So this is the part where I  really start struggling with the block. Things aren’t going as planned and I’m really not sure where to go from here. All I know is I can’t ink to save my life and I really need to get a grip on it.  At least this time I decide to formulate a plan  of action instead of throwing in the towel. So I gather up a pile of comic books and art books of my favorite artists and start  copying their work as a study. 

So I’m having fun copying some work by Ashley Wood….






and some Jason Shawn Alexander….










more Jason Shawn Alexander

   Alright, so I like Jason Shawn Alexander! Empty Zone kicks ass. 

    This basically keeps me pretty busy through most of September. I’m playing with some new brushes. I  found I really like Chinese calligraphy brushes. I’m getting more used to the stark look of black ink on white paper. I’m really trying hard to be ok with hatching and cross hatching- on faces especially. All this is going pretty well, except my anxiety is at crisis level for some reason. I started having panic attacks at the end of August and had several a week through September. I went back to see my shrink and they upped my meds again, but not as much. Things were seeming a little better. I was in better spirits and hyped about Inktober.

    The first week of Inktober was awesome! Despite the benefits of doing copywork, I really like to work on my own stuff. So for Inktober I wanted to take some of the things I learned in September and do some experimenting on my own work.





Jon Crosby of VAST






We lost a couple of icons. Tom Petty…






and Playboy mogul, Hugh Hefner.

    Then I wanted to work on my horror movies prompt list-

Nancy - The Craft

    Then my medication started catching up with me. Slowly I started getting this creeping “not give a shit” feeling. Again I got this weird can’t draw, or assess. I don’t even know what happens, or how that works. All I know is my work starts looking flat and fuzzy, totally lacking in detail and I can’t seem to fix it. Really I don’t even have the patience to fix it. It’s just weird. 

Silent Hill
Return of the Living Dead

So I go a few more days making other, ever increasingly disappointing sketches. I start painting them out with black gouache. A couple pages I go back and paint over with skulls. Yes, skulls. My bestest friends. When all else fails draw skulls!


    Then my skulls start looking kinda meh….(and BTW what the hell is wrong with that crow!?)

By this point I am pretty frustrated. This art block really is becoming a thing and it is freakin’ winning. My general attitude about this…

Fuck a duck!

    Hi ho, hi ho, back to my shrink I go! Ok this meds thing is not working. Oh and btw, early in October I got a result from my sleep study – major obstructive sleep apnea. The good thing is they think they can fix me up with the aid of a CPAP machine (sexy!). But I have to wait 6 weeks to get the machine (crap!) People with anxiety and depression can often reduce or go of their meds. Armed with this info/ coupled with the fact that both of the meds I take contribute to sleep apnea, my shrink took the logical (radical!) step of taking me off my meds. I felt a kind of relief coupled with fear. I mean my anxiety is extreme with meds, so who knows what’s going to happen now. And the weaning off process begins….

    Well, first things first, I had to give up my sleep meds cold turkey. Not that I have an addiction problem with them, but without my sleep meds my other meds keep me awake all the time. Those meds I have to taper off  of.

    I revert back to copying from comic books. Black Monday Murders to be exact. I don’t have to think too hard about what to draw or where the ink is supposed to go. 

   I troop on for another week or so doing this. I don’t draw every day because I am pretty freakin’ tired by now. I’m glad when I can finally stop all the meds because I really want to be able to sleep. The sooner I’m off, the sooner they are out of my system. Careful what you wish for.  Now the real fun begins because there was an ugly withdrawal phase. Massive fatigue (yes it is possible to be even more tired when you are already exhausted!) and in my waking hours (sleeping 12-16 hours a day now) my moods are BLACK. 



At this point I can’t even focus anymore. I don’t draw most days. Then I feel really guilty about it. It feels like I’m giving up. Every few days i try to scribble something in my sketchbook, even if it’s little, even if it sucks.

I’m watching a lot of X Files and Bigfoot documentaries. No clue what that’s about. I’m diggin’ the X Files and kinda wonder why I never watched it when it was on tv.



I saw this girl outside and I thought she had kind of an interesting face. I tried to draw her from memory. Well that didn’t go as planned. I drew something that day. It counts.

I can’t focus enough to draw so I try to write a story. That doesn’t pan out either. Just can’t freakin’ think!

Here is my Bigfoot.  My husband despises conspiracy theories. I kinda like to annoy him with them sometimes so I can watch the vein in his forehead pulse. 

If I give him too many “facts” supporting the evidence of Bigfoot he really loses his shit. 

Somehow, in all of this, I have managed to keep a sense of humor. 

    This brings us to mid-November. Finally I get my CPAP machine!!! (super sexy!) My husband learned that peanut jokes cut both ways.  After a few nights of decent sleep, I start coming out of my fugue state. 



I also got my copy of Art of Jock, which was super inspiring. Ok my copy doesn’t do the original justice, but I drew something, so it counts.

I spent a day or two going back through my sketchbook and scribbling over pencil drawings I made, trying to make them look slightly less horrible. I think this exercise was mostly about saying I did something that day because I was still pretty damn tired for a few weeks. 

    I liked this cabin after I inked it. Not sure where it came from (if it is a copy or not.) I vaguely remember scribbling it in my book one day, then inked it weeks later.

I started watching videos on inking at Virtual Art Instructor and Alphonso Dunn’s videos on YouTube. He has a really good book out too. 





Finally the black ass mood I was in, for what seemed like an age, lifted and I sat down and drew something I was pretty pleased with.





A couple of days later I drew a bee. I also drew a few Christmas cards, but I sent them before I made copies to post…..because I’m slick like that. 



Lastly I drew this skull a few nights ago (yes it has taken me two days to write this post!).  Right now I am trying to get back in the habit of drawing every day…even if it’s little…even if it sucks.  I do see improvements along the way. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of hard days ahead. That’s cool. Struggle is progress. 

    The most important thing is I kept going. I have given up in the past and it always haunted me later. Still haunts me, in all honesty. How far would I be if I didn’t give up all those times? And yeah, there were many. So that’s why I wanted to share this post. Maybe it will encourage someone to keep going. Never give up!

December Art Prompts 2017

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Bah humbug! The Victorians had it right with their tradition of ghostly winter tales, such as Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”. In reality, throughout history around the world, the dark days of winter have inspired some rather intriguing ghost stories, winter spirits and Christmas deities. Some are downright spooky. Others, at the very least, are the cantankerous cigarette smoking cousin of the modern North American Santa inspired by Coca-Cola. 

I have researched a short “Twelve Days of Christmas” list for you all to be inspired by in your sketchbook endeavors this month. I figured we could all do with a more relaxed pace since the holidays can be rather hectic. If you are unfamiliar with these creatures, please do a little Google search and familiarize yourselves with their backstories and descriptions. I hope you enjoy this list. Happy Holidays!

  1. Krampus
  2. Jolakotturinn “The Christmas Cat”
  3. Frau Perchta
  4. Pere Perchta
  5. Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)
  6. Mari Lwyd “The Christmas Zombie Horse”
  7. La Befana/ Baboushka
  8. Tomten
  9.  Belsnickel
  10. Gryla
  11. Knecht Ruprecht
  12. Hans Trapp

Developing Your Drawing Style

    Before I get to the main article I wanted to apologize for not being more active on the site lately. I have been having severe chronic fatigue issues that have sapped my energy to do anything at all, ultimately resulting in a big fat art block. My doctor finally found the issue- a severe sleep apnea. Average 32 breathing stops an hour- yikes! I just started treatment a few days ago and am now have 3 whole days behind me that I didn’t need to take a nap (or two or three). Today I actually felt like getting some art done and catching up on my blog. So here goes~

Finding Your Tribe

Scalped by Jock

    “Finding your tribe” was the term used in a recent workshop to describe finding those artists who influence you – or who you would like to influence you. This was a pretty refreshing concept for me because in art classes I took in the past allowing an artist’s style to influence you was a bad thing. Copying artwork was definitely frowned on. You needed to draw for years and wait patiently for the style fairy to arrive and imbue you with your own amazing uniqueness. Well let me tell you – that is complete and utter crap. Well, for the most part. At the very least, if you want to speed things up, you need to study and copy other artists’ work. 

    It has been said in order to understand our subjects we need to study them. The best way to study a subject is to draw it. Don’t believe me? Take a photo of a subject, then draw it from memory. Now draw a subject. Then attempt to redraw the same subject from memory. I guarantee you will retain information from the subject you drew in much greater detail.  In order to draw the art we want to draw we need to get inside the minds of the artists whose work we admire and define exactly what it is about it that we love. 

    As an exercise, collect works from 3-5 artists you really feel resonates with you/ is in a style that you want to draw like. From that selection of artists find 3-5 pieces of their work that are your absolute favorites. You can do this however you want. I have a Pinterest board of my picks. Because I like the way printed images look on paper, I also bought books and comic books containing my favorite artists’works. (Amazon loves me, my husband is kinda pissed though.)

    Study your images. Make notes about whatyou like about each image. See if you can find out how the images were produced. What media was used? Try to replicate the image. You can do this by copying it as closely as possible or just trying to get the essence of what it is about the image you really like. 

Steal Like an Artist

    You should never plagiarize another artist. If you post your copies someplace then make sure you credit the original artist – and never EVER sell your copied work. That being said this is where the hard work comes in. You still have plenty of drawing to do. All we are really doing here is putting all those ideas in your head about how you want your art to look into focus.

    Drawing is quite literally a map of your central nervous system and your body structure working in tandem. Couple that with your personal preferences and you will produce original artwork unless you are planning a career in art counterfeiting. Remember, you will be referencing several artist’s, not just one. As you are making studies you will see things, even in your absolute favorite artist’s work, that you want to change or improve. You start off asking yourself how would da Vinci draw a subject and over time transition into how you would draw a subject based on observations of da Vinci’s work. That is when you are truly on the path to creating your own style.  

November Art Prompt

It was a hard choice to decide what to draw this month. My initial choice was Victorian cemeteries but we just did Halloween right? So let’s do something off the horror path for a little while and go with fantasy creatures. So some of you might be wondering what some of these creatures look like. Here is a massive list of AD&D monster descriptions. Some have images accompanying. See if you can beat the reference illustrations. 

Graham Smith Marks: Volume 1 – Review

    I’m on this mission right now to collect all of the artbooks, comics, etc. from artists who really inspire me. ( I have a whole other post coming up about that subject.) For my birthday this year I decided to treat myself to something really special- Graham Smith’s Marks: Volume 1. This is my experience.

    I had my eye on this book for a while. I was trying to find a way to buy it here in Europe. After doing my homework I realized these are limited edition signed prints and available only directly from the artist. Well worth the $25 cost of the book. After several months of coveting I decided to shoot him an email and see if he would be willing to ship one my direction. 

    I got an email back pretty quick. Graham was more than willing to go out of his way to help me out. He made the trek over to the post office to check out international shipping costs. Not cheap- almost the price of the book. In all honesty I expected that and had already figured it into my budget. This is where it gets good though. He was kind enough to offer to put a little personalized doodle in the book for me if I decided to buy it, since it was my birthday and all. I almost tore my pocket off trying to bet my credit card out!

    I sent him a return email thanking him and took the opportunity to tell him how much I admired his art, blog and how I found the videos from his website to be very inspirational. In response this is what I got in the mail a few days later (fastest shipping ever!). 




I have always been a HUGE fan of mail art. I’ve sent them out before but this is the first one I have ever received. Getting a hand decorated package in the mail is super exciting. 




He included a stack of art cards which I did not expect. The big one is signed.They now grace the walls of my studio.




Signed cover page.




The really cool thing was finding this gem. Sure beats an email!   

    I am not comfortable showing internal pages of this book. There is, however, a very extensive bookflip on the shop page. If you are into expressive mark making, texture and grunge then you will love Graham’s artwork and I highly recommend his book. You get to be a supporter of the arts and get a collection of excellent artwork in your very own signed book.  If you would like to see the artist at work, check out his illustration process below. If you are looking for some inspiration his Sketchbook Fury series for Strathmore is a must see. I simply cannot say enough good things about this artist and his work.  

Art Prompt October 2017

    I know i cut it a little close. I do apologize. i like to give people some breathing room to prepare for the prompts. Especially since this month we will be watching tons of horror movies! Yes, thats right. Every day this month we will be drawing from a different horror movie. Feel free to substitute at will, but I hope you enjoy my selection. For those of you doing the Inktober challenge you can either make two drawings or why not try combining the two? Happy drawing!