When we first went online in February 2020, I thought it would just be for a few weeks. Now here we are 18 months later, still online. I thought online would be cold and distant. I thought there’d be no way to teach anything specific. Turns out there’s a lot we can do from our desks! Online Art Class Tools As weeks went on, we found tools that help us. The best tool we found is Padlet. Padlet is free for our students, and allows us to share our work online. Students can post their work, ask questions, and leave compliments on each other’s drawings. Padlet also lets me load up pictures for slideshows and discussions. This is no small thing. In the studio, sharing images is complicated. I can turn out all the lights and give a slideshow presentation, but then we have to turn the lights back on, and the slides are gone. I can print things out, but only a few per student, not 100. There are power-points and drives and files I can share, but none of them are as easy for everyone as Padlet. I can share multiple collections every week, and make them all accessible to students 24/7. Zoom has an annotate feature that allows me to draw on student’s artworks. I can easily highlight passages that I love, and we can try out different marks and colors to see what their next moves could be. Zoom annotate is not the most elegant tool, but I actually prefer it that way. I could pull out my iPad and use a fancy pen and Procreate, but I’d rather use simple tools to convey ideas so the student can understand the concept and apply the idea in their own way, not attempt to reproduce some fancy marks. Online Art Class Formats In-person class formats do not work as well online. Online classes need to be shorter. 4 hour painting classes were shortened to 3 hours online. 3 hour drawing classes shortened to 2 hours online. People still want a full experience, so we adapted rhythm to work. My studio classes have a quick sequence: I keep the lesson short and get everyone drawing right away. We warm up for 20 minutes, then I take a quick peak at their sketches via Padlet, give brief feedback, then we return to drawing. After about 40 minutes we pause for substantial feedback and discussion. Then everyone gets another drawing session before we post our final work and say goodnight. For concept intensive classes in which people do most of their work outside of class, the first hour is discussion and feedback on homework. We take a break, then introduce new ideas with a slideshow and a challenge. Students have about 30 minutes to give it a try, and get quick feedback before they go off on their own. Additional feedback can be given via email or a zoom chat in between classes. Here’s what’s great about online classes No commute. Instead of idling in traffic there and back, click a button and you’re in class. In Seattle, this can save hours! Seattle to Texas is a big commute as well, so our Texas friends are welcome to join us online anytime. Friends with mobility issues can also join us easily. Join us on the go. Not going to be at home for the whole series? No problem. I’ve had students Zoom in from hotels, friend’s places, and while on family trips. One artist snuck in a drawing session between events at her friend’s wedding! No schlepping. You won’t have to pack up all your art supplies, or wonder what you’ll need. You won’t have to schlep all your art supplies from the car or bus into the classroom. You won’t have to transport wet paintings. You won’t forget to bring anything. Home comforts. No need to pack a lunch, or drink your coffee without fresh cream. The studio is set at any temperature you choose, the lighting is the way you like it, and your table is set up in the specific way that works just for you. Recordings available. Have you ever been in a class and wish you could rewind and replay something that you didn’t get the first time? Or watch it in fast forward? Our classes are recorded, and recordings are available to students, so whether you miss a class or just want to listen to the information again later in the week, we’ve got you. Everyone has the best view. No one is stuck without light, or with the heater in the way of the model’s leg. No one is crowded or trying to see past the person in front of them. Everyone has the best seat in the house. Videos. Nothing is better than a live model for life drawing, but taking advantage of what we’ve got gives us lots of options. We’ve studied masterworks, sculpture, slow motion videos, and worked from commissioned model photographs. With our live models zooming in, they can put the camera anywhere – even above them in the bathtub. Can’t get that view in person! Unlike life drawing in person, if there’s a drawing that needs more time, resources are available. Online classes are more affordable. We lowered our class prices when we went online. For people who take a class or two a week, that’s some savings! Of course we always have financial assistance for those who need a boost. So, until I see you in person, we are online and making the most of it! I hope you can join us.