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. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Enter the October Art Dare!

Art Prof October Art Dare

(Drawing above by Prof Clara Lieu. Watch her drawing process here)

There are infinite ways to interpret this theme! You could portray what you desire your future self to be, what you fear your future self could become, etc. We’re excited because this theme has the potential to be tragic, hilarious, odd, melodramatic, serious, and more.

No human faces in your drawing
Why?  Because many people default to the cliche of drawing their physical appearance to show themselves.  We’re challenging you to find a more unusual approach!

Subscribe to the Art Dares email list and be notified on the first day of each month!


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Watch this tutorial by Prof Clara Lieu below for how to brainstorm, sketch, and begin your final drawing. A mind map and thumbnail sketches counts as a submission!

Any drawing media on black paper. (no paint) Drawings can be in black & white or color. Tip: If you draw with white media on the black paper, your black media is your “eraser”!
Suggestions below, but really, any drawing media is game!
Caran d’Ache crayons, conte crayons, pastel pencils, white china markerscolored pencils, chalk pastels, oil pastels.

Check out these examples of drawings done on black paper:

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To Submit
Post your artwork on Instagram, tag us @art.prof  w/ #artprofdare.
Or, post your artwork on our Facebook page.

Use #artprofwip, and Prof Clara Lieu might drop by and give feedback on your in progress artwork. We feature submissions on our Instagram and Facebook page during the month!

Submissions close Mon., Oct. 31 @ 11:59pm EST
Questions?  Comment below or Email us.

Artist Prizes
We award prizes in categories based on the submissions we receive. In the past, prizes we’ve given have included “Tremendous Improvement,” “Innovative Brainstorming,” and Honorable Mentions. The prize winners receive: Prof Lieu’s book Learn, Create and Teach and a 10 min. video critique on 3-5 artworks from Prof Lieu.
Honorable mentions will win an Art Prof sticker set.

cover     Dessery Dai, Art School Admissions Art Portfolio Art Prof art supply stickers designed by Janice Chun

Art Teacher’s Prize
Art Teachers: assign this Art Dare to one of your classes! One class will win a large Art Prof sticker for each student, and a class video critique from Prof Lieu. (watch below) In the class video critique, each student will receive a 1 minute critique on an artwork of their choice. Limit of 25 students. Grades 8 and up are eligible to enter.

Submission Guidelines for Art Teachers
If you have an Instagram for your classroom, you can post your students’ artwork there. Encourage your students to post their submissions on their own accounts as well! For each submission, tag us @art.prof w/ #artprofdare. Use #artprofwip, and Prof Lieu might drop by and give feedback to your students!

Your official class submission must be done via DropBox or Google Drive.  Place your students’ artworks in a folder, and then share the folder to Prof Lieu‘s email.

To be eligible for a prize, your artwork must be created specifically for this Art Dare, and must follow all guidelines.

Related Videos
Charcoal Drawing Tutorial:  Line Thumbnails, Part 4 of 20
Charcoal Drawing Tutorial:  Tone Thumbnails, Part 5 of 20
Charcoal Drawing Tutorial:  Finishing, Part 20 of 20
Ask the Art Prof Live #4:  Oversaturation, Brainstorming, Beginning a Series
Ask the Art Prof Live #3:  Personal Themes, Never Too Late to Start Drawing
Crit Quickie #13: Figure Drawing on Black Paper

Related Articles
“How do you begin to think conceptually as a visual artist?”
“How does an artist come up with ideas?”
“How do you know when to stop working?”How To Brainstorm
How to Create a Dynamic Composition
“How do artists manage to get their soul out into images?”
“How do you develop an idea from a sketch to a finished work?”
“When do you let go of an idea?”
“When and how should you use photo references to draw?”

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

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