The Pastel Academy Blog
The Pastel Academy Online Blog
News, Views & Pastel Perspectives
The promised Updates on the Pastel Academy Online
The Academy train is rolling along, with still so much to do but at least it is on the right track!
Without doubt it is a massive undertaking but all the best things are worth waiting for. One of the things that has not helped me is the fact that there is nothing out there in internet land, like the Academy, so I am more or less breaking new ground with this project. It is exciting for sure but without doubt the Academy is pretty unique. Why? Well I’m an artist at the top of my game, but rather than further career building, I am more passionate about my medium and mentoring the next generation of pastel artists, and for good reason. So my time is now taken up with the Academy, and I am more excited about it than I would be putting together a new one woman exhibition. In fact I’m very excited about the fact it is online rather than a real world brick built building housing a pastel school. Online, you can all participate. Offline pastel tuition of this calibre would be down to access and affordability – travel, accommodation etc.
So the upside is – potentially you can all participate. The downside – there is a limit as to how many enrollees I am able to take in. More on that later.
The Big Decisions
At the moment the website is in full construction mode, and will remain in that mode for as long as it takes to complete of course. I have looked at different kinds of models for the Academy and in the end chose the simplest and most effective solution.
The choices I had to make centred on whether it would be best to complete each course and then put them onto an online teaching platform – costed basically on their length and content, or, to house all the courses on a platform (website) of my own at a similar cost, or – not to charge for the courses individually, but to house them all on a website of my own on a membership basis.
After some consideration there was no contest: The Pastel Academy will follow the membership site model. The reasons are simple:
- I want the Academy to be a learning hub for Pastel not just a place to buy courses; but a place to get feedback from the courses and hold discussions on them.
- I shall be filming many courses (16 – 18 courses currently being planned) and access to them all would be a financial headache for many people.
- As well as the all important courses on all areas of pastel work (and drawing), it is my aim to set up a constantly growing pastel directory/ resource centre.
- Above all else the tutor mentoring aspect of the Academy is my priority. With that in mind I want the Academy to have a live training function; including challenges, projects and feedback. In short – the same as going to pastel college. (No – there isn’t one out there!)
- Part of this live training function: an active and supportive Academy community forum.
- An additional function which covers earning a living from Pastel.
The best and most efficient way to deliver all of the Academy’s services is via what is in effect a private Membership Pastel Club online. Then when you enrol on a monthly membership (or a discounted annual one) you have access to the Academy resources.
So now the Academy looks something like this:
The Pastel Academy will be a private members club under my tutelage. It will feature:
- A library of courses covering all aspects of pastel in portrait, landscape and still life. Courses also in basics in drawing and sketching, and the important basics such as Composition, colour theory, tonal values etc. No good being a great pastel technician if you are making simple composition mistakes.
- A monthly Live Training session (webinar) where I set projects and challenges for review the following month. This will include a special beginners section.
- An Exclusive Academy community forum – which will form an important part of the Academy resources. Somewhere where you can safely post your work – out of the public eye – and get quality feed back if requested. Also somewhere where important discussions re pastel and the art business can be explored.
- A Pastel history section. I shall be publishing my university research on pastel history in the Academy. As a pastel historian this is one aspect of the Academy which will also grow into an important resource.
- A Resources Directory covering: suppliers, manufacturers, links, Pastel Societies, Society Exhibitions, free photography (copyright free) sources, copies of my Leisure Painter articles in PDF format, and much more.
- A Handy Hints & Tips page; subjects not large enough to warrant a full course being made – but important tips on paper choice, fixative, travelling kits, plein air work and kits, studio set ups, pastel storage etc.
- The Academy Blog, yes this page, will assume a different function when the Academy goes live. The blog will host guest bloggers, and guests from the world of pastel: manufacturers, Mail order suppliers, and all will be asked to bring with them a special offer for our members! Usually a one time only offer which will represent good value for members. In return these same guests may ask for your opinions for their own market research.In this way the blog will form a bridge between members and suppliers/pastel related companies. It will be useful to you and to them,
And finally there will be a very important extra addition.
.I have been thinking about this for some time having been asked by artists over the years how I have built my career.
- A programme for earning your living as a pastel artist. This will include a course on marketing, and tuition relating to becoming a pastel tutor. Another part of this programme will be advice on marketing your art both online and off..
This is something I am pretty passionate about and which is also in response to my survey questions last month. Yes, I do have a lot of experience in marketing myself and yes I will be giving advice and adding that into my course content. (What you might not know is that I was accepted into Lancaster University back in 1990 as a mature student, on an Arts/Marketing ticket).
This is something that is of great interest to quite a few of you. For me it is yet another way of putting down in course form, my experience as an artist from a business level, and how to survive as one lol! It matters particularly to me that I should be passing this information on to pastel artists of course, but this is one section that applies to all visual artists.
***This last Academy function will come under a separate membership level – a Platinum level membership. It is something that might be of little interest to beginners and learners – at least until you are confident in your abilities – but something available to you down the line when you are ready to upgrade to platinum level. (Of course Platinum level will also have other exclusive features).
The Academy Members – who will they be?
The is a really important consideration. First of all let me outline my commitment; Obviously I have been living and breathing this project for over a year now and in fact when the Academy goes live I shall be even busier. The Academy will in effect become my art school. I shall be on duty in the Community forums, setting up a beginners program and providing Live Training every month. In addition to bringing in some interesting ‘guests’ into the blogs. I shall be running the content creation program (courses PDF’s ebooks etc.) and running the online functioning of the Academy – the Membership site software itself – and I’m not a techie!
I am doing this because I know I can make a big difference, and I want my life’s work to be of value when I’m no longer around. Pastel’s reputation and standing in the art world is my motivation, and the Academy’s role for me is in training the next generation of pastel artists – who will get the chance to hit the ground running because I am mentoring them.
So firstly let me say that a massive membership list is not my aim.
There is a limit to the number I am willing to take in. Some of course will need more guidance than others, but I don’t want a mass of students who are not going to get the full benefits of Academy Member ship because they lack commitment.
In fact the Academy will be open for enrolment three times a year, following its initial launch. (This figure may change but it is the one I am working towards at the moment.) This is particularly important to the beginners program, and there may be a more flexible enrolment policy for more advanced pastelists. The people on my email list – all of you reading this – will be offered the chance to enrol first.
So how do I get word about the Academy out and still attract the right students? Well one way I can do this is with your help. I shall be running an;
Which means that if you refer (recommend) the Academy to someone you know who you think will benefit from it, and they sign up, you will receive a commission. More on this later, but it is a good way to participate in the growth of the Academy and earn something towards your fees.
At the moment I am planning just two levels – gold and platinum and I am working on the membership level fee structure at the moment. There is an option of a silver level should that become a requirement.
So that updates you all on the Academy and how it will work. I know that you will have many questions and this is what you can do for me.
- First ask any questions in the comments below (or email me if you prefer, but others might like to see the questions and answers in the comments below).
- Then I would like you to tell me (given the outline of the Academy and what it offers) – how much would you value it / charge for it per month? I really do value your input at this stage, because pricing and costing is a big consideration. As a guide, take into consideration what it would cost you to go to workshops and classes in the UK, (yes I realise that there are not many of you with access to such classes without travel and accommodation costs) and then add my name, experience and reputation into the equation and come up with a figure – even if it is one you would find hard to meet personally, state what you consider would be a fair price. As a further guide – a ballpark figure might be within the $30 a month ($1 a day!) and $45 a month ($1.50 a day) or $60 a month ($2 a day) or $90 a month ($3 a day) etc. (The fees will be quoted in dollars for reasons of business ease of use).
- Also let me know also which of the Academy’s features as outlined above, you would find the most useful and why? Feedback from you all is important at this juncture.
- Let me know if there is a feature that you would find useful which I have not outlined above. I have been through many revisions on content already so it is probably something I have thought about, but you never know, maybe it is something I have not thought about.
- Let me know also if any of you already belong to a membership site. I belong to two and I am a happy member of both of them so I am used to how they work. For some subjects they are wonderful and because the best ones are jam-packed full of features they are incredibly good value.
Please add your questions in the comments section below or if you wish send them through the email address on the newsletter. I will read and answer them all – and I look forward to reading your comments!