How to Study for an Art Class or Principles for Art Students and Instructors

- Slow Down.  Think about what you're doing and why you're doing it.  Break it apart and think about all of it's aspects.  Research all of it's aspects.  Yes, research.  Think of art as visual communication.  Just as writing is about communicating or expressing ideas, so is art.  You wouldn't write a paper without researching your topic, right?  There is no reason to make art without research either.

Give the work what it needs.  Don't cut corners, don't use cheap materials and don't go too fast - remember the first principle.

The only true rule is work.  There's an idea out there that it takes ten-thousand hours of work to become good at something. Whether that's true or not, if you work it will lead to something. Spend time in the studio working with the materials. Make a small mountain of "practice" work. Think about how much time you spend studying for a regular class, you need to spend at least that much time in the studio.

- The only true goal is MAKE. Making is Learning. You can never learn enough. There are no failures, there is only making, learning and revising.

- Trust yourself.  If you follow the previous principles and if you make work that you care about it will be good work and it will be your own work. Don't worry about what people are going to like.  Don't worry about what art is supposed to look like. If you worry about those things you'll make someone else's work.

- Do non-art research. John Ruskin said that the teaching of art is the teaching of all things (and he was right). By the same token, the learning of art is the learning of all things. Get a life and be involved with things that are not art. Go to the library. Read about the things you are interested in. Become an expert on your interests. Find new ways to know those things. Find new things to know.

- Look at Art. Don't just rely on the internet and pictures. Go to galleries and museums and look. Sit in front of one work of art for at least 20 minutes. Take notes about what you're looking at. Critique it. Imagine you're going to describe it to someone who can't see it. Find other things in the world that are like it. Go to the studio and make your own version of it.

- Look at movies, listen to music, read books carefully and often. Critique them just like you would any other form of art. Look for the deeper ideas behind them. Think about how they go about dealing with those ideas. Pay attention to the aesthetic devices they employ.

- Study art history on your own terms. Historians are important thinkers, but they can tend to romanticize or intellectualize too much. Know what history means to you, make your own determinations about what's important.

- FAIL HARDER.  What does that even mean?  ->  Take creative risks. Trust yourself.  You know what needs to happen and what the work needs to be. Don't worry about what art ought to be.

- Enjoy yourself. Be happy whenever you can. If it's not making you happy try something else.

- Pull everything out of the people around you. Get them to teach you what they know.

- Find someone wise and follow them. But only for a little while. Try doing what they do, think about why they do it.

- Find someone who struggles and help them. Nobody deserves to struggle on their own, it sucks.  Even if you're just a selfish jerk, the best way to learn anything is to teach it. So help somebody.

- Take everything and everyone seriously. The best opportunity to learn is always right in front of you right now. Take it seriously.

- Don't try to make and analyse at the same time, they're completely different processes.

- Exhibit your work as much as possible. It's completely different and differently rewarding than critique or making.

- Be Self Disciplined:  
     Be prepared.
     Always show up for everything.
     Read everything.
     Write out your thoughts.
     Work in your journal at least once a day.
     Save ideas, they will come in handy eventually.

- Write your own set of rules, and revise them every once in a while.

This list is derived from Sister Corita's "Rules and Hints for students and teachers".