The Future of

Since launching, it’s been thrilling for me to watch our creative community grow. When I’m having a crummy day, I re-read viewer testimonials, which always gives me a lift. Here’s one that made me laugh out loud: “I’ve replaced Netflix with Art Prof Instagram Live videos.”  Now that’s a compliment!

In our staff group, we have many lists.  One list stands out: my queue of 34 videos that have been sitting on my server for weeks, some even for months. Why?  We don’t have the funding to hire a sound designer to do the sound mixes. (that’s not even counting the hundreds of hours of footage that have been shot, but not edited!)

With the exception of 2 interns this summer, I have done all of the editing since we started.  Not because I knew anything about editing, but because if I didn’t do it, no one else would. (only took me a year to learn Premiere!)

After being on sabbatical, I’m returning to teach at RISD in September. With my teaching schedule, I know that I won’t be able to keep my prior production schedule. The only solution is to hire editors and sound designers.

If everyone on this email list donated $5 a month, we could easily pay our TAs, editors, sound designers, a web developer, and cover critical expenses. Beyond that, we can show you what we are REALLY capable of!!!

One fundamental premise of our mission was for to be 100% free. I really, really don’t want to have to set up a paywall, but we’re at a point where we may have to. I literally have 20 years of content stuck in my head that I want to share with you! I care deeply about this artistic family and I want so much for us to keep thriving.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Art Prof Draw Along!


We’ve been experimenting with Instagram Live Video at Art Prof, which has been a fun new format for us to connect to our viewers.  After getting feedback and troubleshooting the format, we are pleased to announce our Art Prof Live schedule through the end of the summer!

We strive for our video courses to be comprehensive and high quality, but the consequence is that without a large production staff, our courses are very time consuming to produce.  Art Prof Live is our solution to this situation, and it’s an exciting platform because our teaching will occur in real time, and gives us closer interaction with our viewers.

Get a sketchbook + pencil and draw along with me TONIGHT @ 9:30pm EST on Instagram Live Video! Post your drawing with #artprofdrawalong on Instagram, and we might feature your drawing on our Instagram.

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Will Art Prof Survive My Return to Teaching?

Artist profile on Judy Brown, the latest release in our Emerging Artist section.

I was on sabbatical from RISD this past spring semester, so the last time I was teaching on campus was way back in December 2016! As much as it was wonderful to finally have the head space to think clearly during sabbatical, it’s also been lovely to come back to campus.  I missed seeing former students and colleagues on a weekly basis. (I’m not an artist who can sit in the studio by myself for 8 hours every day.)

However, my life is very different from where I was in December 2016. The difference?, which didn’t exist before I went on sabbatical. This summer I’m teaching studio courses 5 days at week at RISD Pre-College. While my schedule is still densely packed with my commitments in teaching and Art Prof, I’ve got an incredible team of interns who are producing written columns for our Emerging Artists section, writing thoughtful and constructive comments on, creating video content for future use, and much more.

Most importantly, I have 2 Assistant Editors, Monika Hedman and Anjali Shankar, who are burning through our vast stock of video content, which has been huge in terms of getting new content released. The preparatory editing process is extremely tedious, and having that part of the process lifted from my shoulders has made all the difference in the world.  Despite that support, there is still plenty to do. I’m still doing heavy lifting in the second half of the editing process. I’m compulsive about keeping our high standards of quality that regardless of my 2 Assistant Editors, the process remains very time consuming.

However, this fall I’m returning to RISD, and I’ll be teaching 2 courses in the Printmaking department; Relief Projects and Senior Print Workshop Seminar.

I’m worried.

The teaching load in the fall is a little less than what I’m doing now, but the big difference is that my amazing team of interns are going to disappear in the fall, along with my 2 Assistant Editors. I’m scared that we won’t be able to continue hiring our incredible staff of Teaching Assistants, maintain content production at a reasonable pace, and keep 100% free.

Our options aren’t pretty.

We could stop hiring our Teaching Assistants, and lose an extraordinary team that make Art Prof what it is. We could set up a paywall on, which in my opinion basically destroys our mission to provide a free visual arts education for everyone. Or our content production slows to such a pace that we release a tutorial only once or twice a year. And that still includes myself, my partner Thomas Lerra, and Alex Hart all continuing to work on a volunteer basis.

I have only 2 months to figure this out.  Despite our push for donations on our Patreon, the donations have been very slim.

Which is why I’m going to ask you, if is a resource you are learning from, please consider a monthly donation to keep us alive. Even $1 a month will make a difference! 

Consider this: if every person on our mailing list gave us $1 a month, none of the hypothetical scenarios will happen in September.

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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New Tutorial Set: “Small Sparks”


Last weekend Art Prof TAs Lauryn Welch, Alex Rowe, Deepti Menon, and Casey Roonan came to my house for a 5 days of shooting. Our retreats are really intense, require serious concentration 24-7, are exhausting, but they are also a total blast.  All of us live in different places, so we really only get together a few times a year to shoot our video content. What’s been really exciting is that with every retreat, we’ve become noticeably more efficient with our time, and our work flow is much faster than before. It’s wonderful to see our team settling into a stable familiarity in the process that wasn’t there when we first got started.


It’s still incredible to me how much we managed to pack into 5 days.  Deepti shot a tutorial about how to create an animation piece using an eggplant, Alex did a tutorial on ink wash drawing which involved American colonial history and an on site visit to a farm to hang out with sheep, Lauryn showed us how to mix coffee grounds into acrylic paint to make a painting inspired by BBQ squid, and Casey showed us all kinds of ink technique that involved roadkill and toilet paper.


While we still want to include the basics on, we’re really excited about these quirkier tutorials that are a new hybrid of artist documentary and tutorial.  In our research, the video content out there is either exclusively a documentary (such as the PBS series art21) or a purely technical tutorial.  The idea of combining both documentary and tutorial in one is really exciting, as you’ll get the change to understand the initial inspiration for our work, but also have the opportunity to see every step of the process explained, using ordinary materials that are accessible and can be done in your own home.

We see Art Prof as a platform that is constantly growing, even since our site launch this past February so much of our mindset has changed. Ideas for new content formats keep coming up, which is exciting, but also frustrating at the same time.  With our extremely limited post-production staff (me, and Alex Hart occasionally) we just don’t have the man power to produce video content as quickly as we want to. We desperately need a sound designer, but without sustained funding that isn’t an option for us right now. (please consider a monthly donation to our Patreon!)


Now that Art Prof has been around for 3 years, we felt it was a good time to create a short “Making of Art Prof” documentary for people to see what happens behind the scenes.  Even thought our content is of professional quality, I’m not sure people realize how DIY Art Prof really is!  We shoot in a room right next to my kitchen, we scrape together whatever art supplies we own, we cook meals together, and make do with situations that are less than convenient. (I’m too cheap to buy comforters for everyone, so all the TAs have to bring their own comforter when they stay here)

Naturally, our retreat wouldn’t be half as fun without our guinea pigs, Bubba and Fluffy, who are now the official Art Prof mascots!


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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We Need Your Feedback!

Now that has been live for about 3 months, we want to hear from YOU!  Tell us what you like, what could be improved, and what kind of content you want to see in the future.  Your feedback and thoughts are tremendously important to keep us moving forward.


Since our site launch in February 2017, we’ve already made several fundamental improvements to  our site now loads much more quickly because we compressed files, glitches on the mobile version have been fixed, and we are adding new content every week. (see our homepage for new releases!) In the coming weeks, we are working with our web developer to make AMP compliant. (Accelerated Mobile Pages) so that the mobile version will be significantly increased and load times will be super quick!

Stay tuned!  The first half of my Self-Portrait from Life tutorial is now available, with the second half and Casey Roonan’s charcoal version coming soon!

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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A New Type of Tutorial: “Course Trios”

One aspect of Art Prof that we are trying to push is diversity of artistic approaches and media.  When I was a student in art school, I remember feeling like my head was exploding with excitement when I arrived on campus and was discovering so many new art materials. I found it to be an incredibly enriching experience to approach the same subject with different media.  I did portraits in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture techniques throughout my four years in art school. Every media I experienced revealed something new about the human face that could only be experienced with that specific media.


That’s why I’m thrilled that we’re bringing that diversity of materials to Art Prof with our Course Trios, beginning with our Self-Portrait from Life course.

The idea is different than the linear tutorials I’ve seen online:  My tutorial provides the fundamentals  & premise of the subject.  In the case of the Self-Portrait course,  how to set up a mirror, light your face, basics in the structure of the skull, and thumbnail sketches.  From there, the course branches out into 3 different paths:  1) a self-portrait in crayon by myself, 2) a self-portrait in charcoal by TA Casey Roonan, and 4) a self-portrait in animation by TA Deepti Menon.

Watching Casey do his charcoal drawing tutorial from behind the camera, I found myself seeing the concept of the self-portrait with new eyes. In the video above, Casey talks about how as a cartoonist, he has a cartoon version of himself in his head that he can draw “thoughtlessly.”  He talks about how cartoonists are often accused of just drawing themselves, citing Jack Kirby’s  Incredible Hulk as essentially a self-portrait of Kirby himself. As a fine artist, all of this was totally new to me, and I found it endlessly absorbing to listen to.

I told Casey afterwards that my “basics” tutorial on drawing a self-portrait from life felt so generic compared to his!  However, we agreed as a staff that having one tutorial provide the core basics was critical to the other two tutorials making sense.  Hope all of you have as much fun learning these diverse approaches as I do!  If you want to receive email notifications when a new course is released, you can sign up here.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Patience, Patience, Patience


Self-Portrait from Life,  video course

Yesterday I was speaking to my Art Prof partner Thomas Lerra, about the pacing of the project and whether I was doing everything that I “should” be doing at this point. Tom has been so important to Art Prof because he has several decades of experience in digital production and strategy that I simply don’t have. I’ve taught my studio courses at RISD so many times, that I have confidence in my ability to evaluate where my students should be at midterm, and what I expect to see by the end of the semester.  With Art Prof, I have no clue about what type of timeline I’m supposed to be on.  Most of the time, I feel like I am just making things up as I go along, which is really exhilarating, but also tough as well!

For me, comparisons to athletics always work well when I think about my projects, specifically, marathons. The three years we spent developing Art Prof was the training period before you run the actual marathon.  Launching was us starting the actual marathon itself.


Q&Art video:  Getting a Critique

Now comes the tough part:  you just have to keep going for a while, and to a certain degree, it’s simply a matter of time.  I think in some ways this can be the most challenging part of the process.  At the beginning of the marathon, there’s the initial thrill of getting started which is really exciting.  Then that adrenaline rush dies down and you realize how much further you have to go.

I’m a pretty impatient person by nature, so Art Prof is definitely testing my patience to a degree that I never thought was possible.  Generally speaking, I can stay focused on the crazy multitude of tasks I have to do every day to maintain video production and keep maintained.  However lately, I’ve had some brief moments of sinking doubt that I really need to break out of. Coming up with ideas and producing content for Art Prof is the easy part. The most difficult part is keeping your faith in the project.

Tom said to me yesterday that at some point, a “bike” might appear that we can ride on for the marathon. But until then, I have to keep running.


Art Supply Encyclopedia

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.

Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.

ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.