Want to know my favourite thing about one of our students Savina?
It’s the fact that she’s totally honest about her art journey.
Savina loved drawing when she was 12 years old. There was another girl in her class who’s work was naturally good. Savina found it so intimidating and rather than letting this girl’s pictures inspire her, it discouraged her and she quit.
How often have you compared yourself to others and thought “I could never be as good as that.”
We spoke to Savina about her journey into art and how our courses have helped her.
When did you first start drawing?
I took a bit of a circuitous route with my artwork, unfortunately – it wasn’t an easy road (although I guess nothing worth having or being comes easily).
I started drawing (the first time) when I was 12 years old and I immediately loved it; I used to love to draw cartoon animals and would spend all of my free time drawing characters and then writing detailed stories about their adventures. That lasted about a year, until I met a girl in a middle school class who I thought was just amazing at art – she drew animals so realistically that it just blew me away.
Rather than inspiring me though, seeing her work made me feel very discouraged, as I thought (as many people do) that artistic skill was a natural talent and, if I was so much worse than she was, I’d never get better – so I quit.
That decision hurts to this day, 35 years later. Throughout my life, I’d pick up a pencil and sometimes I’d even buy an art book or two, but I’d draw one thing, see how awful it was and then give up immediately again.
The fire to create never went away though, and when I was 40 years old, I met my (now) husband. He explained to me something no one else had before: drawing and painting are just like any other skill and you have to practice to get good at it. It sounds so obvious, but hearing that, it was like a lightbulb turned on and I started drawing non-stop since.
The next life changer was finding Colin’s lessons. After I’d been drawing in graphite for about 4 years, I was ready to jump into a color medium. After receiving a set of pastel pencils for Christmas one year, I decided to try them, as I hadn’t yet found another color medium I enjoyed.
I was hooked on pastel pencils from the get-go, but I had tried using them on my own and I was SO unbelievably bad at it that I was about to give up (despite really enjoying using the medium) when I found Colin’s website. I signed up not expecting much, but from the first lesson, my artwork transformed to an unbelievable level and, using the techniques Colin teaches to create pieces of my own, I was able to immediately start selling some pastel pencil artwork alongside my graphite work at the art festivals that I was taking part in.
What other mediums have you tried?
I sketch and draw in graphite every day for study and practice and I also just started painting in watercolour and gouache. In fact, I just started Colin’s watercolour lessons, which are equally amazing.
Did you study art elsewhere before Colin’s courses?
Yes, I’ve signed up to just about every online art school and individual teacher that exists (literally) and unfortunately I’ve found most of them to either have really great course descriptions and not the best teachers or I’ve found some really great artists who just don’t teach in a style that speaks to me personally.
People can be absolutely amazing artists, but it’s very rare to find a great artist who’s also an effective teacher. After having been through so many other courses, I immediately recognized a great teacher in Colin; he’s able to communicate ideas in a simple and clear manner and all of his lessons feel encouraging.
It’s also really fun and engaging to follow along with someone who really loves the medium he’s working in, as is clearly the case with Colin.
Did you have any fears or struggles before you started Colin’s courses? If so, do you still have them now?
I’ve always struggled with feeling not good enough, no matter how hard I practice my art; I don’t know that I’ll ever really get rid of that, as it seems to be a common thread among us artists!
But taking Colin’s lessons has given me an understanding of the foundations of painting in this medium that I now take with me into every new painting I approach; so I have a confidence now with this medium that I never thought I would have. I can now finish pieces that I feel proud of. And when I’m doing commissions or personal pieces and I run across something that I’m just not sure how to do, I often jump over to Colin’s site and refer to one of his lessons that has an explanation on something similar to what I’m trying to tackle. Often times I find that I tend to make things much more complicated in my head and looking at Colin’s lessons helps to simplify things down for me and I always come away with more confidence in what I’m doing.
How far have you progressed since following Colin?
Well, if I hadn’t found Colin, I wouldn’t have progressed at all, as I was literally a day away from quitting the medium (which would have been such a shame, because I love this medium so much). But with every one of his lessons that I take, I feel like I jump up a skill level.
What are the biggest benefits you’ve found since taking the courses?
Confidence in my work, being able to understand the foundational elements of this medium, so I can now tackle difficult subjects and break them down into simple steps and being able to see consistent progress in my work.
If you had any advice for someone considering whether to give it a go, what would you tell them?
Don’t wait until you’re so frustrated with trying to learn pastel pencils that you’re ready to give up before jumping in and investing in your artwork; Colin is a great teacher. His site is a great value and his lessons are fun and easy to follow along with. I wish I’d found him sooner, but I’m also glad that I went through so many other sites before finding him, because it made me immediately value him as a teacher.
Whether you’re a beginner in the medium or you’re an experienced pastel artist who wants to tackle subjects you’ve never approached before, I can assure you that you’ll love Colin’s lessons, his teaching style and his enthusiasm for his beautiful medium.