9 Ways to Learn How to Create Art Without Going to Art School

You don’t need to spend a bunch of money to learn how to create art.

In fact, you can learn for free! I am a lifelong learner, and I am always trying to find cheap ways to be a better artist. I have explored many options to learn how to create the art I want, and I want to share those options with you.

I have put together a list of resources for you to increase you abilities without enrolling in an art program (because honestly, an art degree is a horrible investment for most of us).

1. YouTube

I LOVE YouTube.

You can find anything on you want and plenty you don’t want on YouTube. I have spent a lot of time browsing tutorial videos for everything in my life. Hair styles, makeup, recipes, home improvement, fashion, health, and a crap-ton of art videos.  It’s free!

You can search for how to draw. How to paint. Drawing basics. Fluid art. Watercolors. Oil paints. Whatever you want! YouTube probably has it. If one video sucks, find another. There are plenty to choose from.

When I started to learn more about watercolors this was one of the first videos I watched. You can find really high quality tutorials. Start there.

2. Skillshare

Although Skillshare isn’t free, it isn’t expensive either. This is a subscription service with great tutorial videos. You can learn from independent artists from a wide variety of disciplines. Skillshare contains more than art classes, so a subscription could help you in many ways.

Browse art classes here.

3. Drawspace

Drawspace is similar to Skillshare, but is tailored to artists. It has free options as well as membership options for courses.

Explore lessons from Drawspace here.

4. Artyfactory.com

If you like step by step written instructions while you learn, check out Arty Factory for a variety of art lessons. In my opinion, it’s not as convenient as the video tutorials from the first three options, but it’s another way to learn and it’s free.

You can also purchase art technique books with similar written instructions. They are great resources. I personally own this one (affiliate link) for figure drawing  and I had a lot of fun as a teen working through it. 

5. Nature and the world around you.

Old school. I know.

I first starting learning how to draw from observation by studying my pet parakeets and cockatiels as a kid. I wasn’t taking lessons. I would just sit, stare, draw, stare, sit some more, draw, erase, stare, draw, stand back, evaluate, draw some more. Nature can be one of the best teachers. Pick something, observe it, put pencil to paper.

It takes a long time to be able to draw things just from your head. Using reference photos or drawing something right in front of you is the best way to work on your skills. Otherwise, how will you know what to correct if you don’t have something to compare it to?

The best thing about this option is that it doesn’t require electricity, the internet, OR money.

For those who like having a teacher:

I know not everyone enjoys self-guided learning. If you are the type of person that craves classroom settings the next few options are for you.

6. Community Education

If you live in a decent sized city, chances are good you have access to community education classes for art. These classes are often very affordable and are taught by local artists in the community.

Check out your city’s local government or school websites to find details. A quick google search for “(city name) community education” works well.

7. Community College Courses

You don’t necessarily need to enroll in an art program or pursue an art degree to take art classes at local colleges. You can simply choose a class that looks interesting and enroll. Intro drawing and painting classes give you an excellent base knowledge of tools and techniques that you’ll use for many years.

Community colleges are usually more affordable than Universities, and some even have discounts for non-traditional learners.

8. Workshops at Art and Craft Stores

Some arts and crafts supplies stores will host classes and workshops for artists and crafters. The focus of the classes will likely be on specific products they want you to buy, but you’ll get to play with supplies and have fun. Though, this isn’t the best option if you want to sit down and learn traditional art techniques.

9. Painting Parties

If you just want to have some fun with art for a night, local painting parties are pretty great. I have attended and instructed painting parties. If you are a beginner, you’ll learn how acrylic paint behaves and get step by step guidance to start and finish a piece of art.

It’s laid back, and you don’t need to invest in any supplies to get started, or have ANY experience with art. Also–you get food and drinks 🙂


I hope this list has been helpful! I want to make sure you know, you don’t have to go to art school or spend a bunch of money to be an artist or play with art supplies. Art is for everyone.

So, what’s your favorite way to learn? Do you like to work on your own, or do you prefer the classroom setting? Leave a comment below or reach out to me directly on Instagram. I love hearing from you!


P.S. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers!

Further Reading:

You Don’t Have to go to Art School to be an Artist

How to Get Started as an Artist

Art Thieves: Stop Stealing Digital Content

*This rant has been brought to you by too much coffee, and the desire to yell at someone on the internet. I don’t actually expect art thieves to read this and suddenly change their behaviors, but it sure does feel good to vent.

To Artists,

Sometimes the content we produce to promote our art and our businesses gets stolen and posted online without permission or credit to us. Any artist knows, it’s hard to carve out a place in the art world. The internet has made it easier to connect directly to our audience, but it has also brought our work closer to thieves.

It’s really frickin’ annoying when you see your content online without credit to you. I could write a post about how to safeguard yourself against art theft (ugh, watermarks), but I’m getting a little tired of the practice of only teaching victims how to protect themselves rather than teaching other people not to be a**holes.

So this is for the a**holes.

To the turd who stole my digital content,

You stole my art. Not cool.

But, I get it. The internet is fast paced, and maybe you don’t actually have any skill of your own to share. Any online presence you’re trying to build is likely going to take a butt-ton of content that you can’t produce on your own. What do you do? You turn to other creators and snipe their videos and photos.

It’s just an image, right? Or a video here and there. No biggy. Followers start coming in. You get compliments. Everything is great.

Who’s going to notice you are lying?

I promise. People will notice.

The art world is small.

Just this morning, I got a message from one of my followers with a link to one of my videos that was stolen. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a message like this and it won’t be the last. See, as an artist grows, it’s harder and harder to get away with taking their content.

Sure, if you can steal from the little guys you can get away with it for a while, but that’s a dick move. Never step on the little guys to boost yourself up. Have some class.

Your lack of skill is showing.

Let’s say someone was really interested in purchasing the piece pictured in the photo you stole. They message you. What do you say?

Or, maybe you aren’t aware that artists develop a distinct style over time and you post all sorts of different content. Any actual artist will be able to look at your content and see the disconnect.

Annnd then you get called out.

Let’s not forget what you’re doing is illegal.

I would like to live in a world where we don’t have to involve lawyers to protect our creative property, but because of people like you I can’t get my way.

There is a little something called “Copyright Law”. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but in the United States it’s kind of a big deal. Artists have ownership of what they create. Including the photographs and videos they make.

The stolen content you posted can be flagged, reported, taken down, etc.. Your accounts can even be deactivated. If you continue to be an a**hole and piss off an artist who has a good lawyer, legal action can be taken.

Maybe just don’t steal stuff, k?

What’s the point of Stealing?

Money and attention without working for it, right? Cool. Good for you. Enjoy inflating your ego and profiting off of the work of others. But, also enjoy being universally hated by all creative professionals.

Again, I get it. Stealing stuff is a hustle just like creating art. We are all just trying to make it in this world. Some of us just have a little more integrity and aren’t too lazy to put in the work.

What you could do instead:

Here’s a wild idea. How about you just credit the artists? There are many successful online brands and accounts that profit off of actually helping other artists instead of just stealing their content.

As an artist, I can say I love when other people share my work. If you repost one of my videos on Instagram and include @messyeverafter in the caption, you are my best friend. You get to build your profile with entertaining content AND you helped give an artist more exposure.

Everyone is happy. No Copyright laws have been broken. Everyone wins. Whoa, right?

What have we learned today?
  1. Don’t steal.
  2. People will eventually catch you.
  3. Share artwork. Don’t steal it.
  4. Credit your artists. Always.
  5. Don’t be an a**hole.




P.S. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers!

Further Reading:

How to be a Better Professional in the Art World

8 Things You’ll Hear as an Artist


5 Ways to Combat Creative Burnout

Creative Burnout is real.

Your passion can exhaust you

I started the new year by making goals for myself as an artist for 2019. I accomplished way more than I thought I would in 2018, so it was time to sit down and get ready to hustle for another 365 days. I woke up on January 1st with a plan. I had goals to reach for. I had tasks outlined to get me there. I had a dream. I also had a brand new box of paints and canvases from Dick Blick. Everything is perfect, puppy dogs and rainbows.

Carpe Diem, right?

Well not so much. In the spirit of being a fully transparent artist on the internet, I have this to say:

F*ck seizing the day. I hate art right now.

Welcome to Creative Burnout

Every artist will experience creative burnout. This isn’t my first time and it will not be my last. I’m being dramatic of course. I don’t actually hate art. I just don’t want to see it, think about it, touch it, or push myself to create.

I’ve been ignoring everything on my to-do list except for the high priority items. My brain wants to run from anything and everything art related.

When you create professionally, there is a tightrope like balance between optimizing your creativity for a business and preserving your love for what you do. A lot of artists don’t want to put a burden on their creativity to make it produce an income. This was why I avoided the thought of being an artist when I was in high school (that and the fact that I graduated during the 2008 recession). Pursuing a creative career will always introduce a pressure to create that is mostly absent in the hobbyists experience.

Sometimes that pressure can be beneficial. Sometimes that pressure can be paralyzing. It depends on who you are, and how diligent you are with recharging your creative battery. For me at the moment, that pressure apparently manifested into a desire to do anything else besides art. Anything.

Burnout is not procrastination or laziness

Now of course there is a difference between procrastination/laziness and creative burnout. This isn’t the same as trying to go to the gym when you just don’t feel like moving from the couch. This is like trying to go to the gym, but the thought of even stepping on a treadmill makes you want to scream while you cut up all of your sports bras and then cry in a corner.

When you’re lazy or procrastinating, you need to push harder to access the energy you already have to give.

Burnout is not laziness.

Don’t make me create. I will snap that paint brush and light it on fire.

Creative burnout is when you do not have the energy to give to your craft no matter how much you push or try to focus. Everything you touch sucks. Your inner critic is set to “ruthless”. Your creative tank is empty. You have nothing left to give.

It’s a really unpleasant feeling. It would be nice if we could be productive and creative all the time, but it just doesn’t work that way.  Though, since I still have an obsessive need to be productive, I’ve come up with some tips and advice for treating and preventing creative burnout.

Hopefully you won’t need this list…

1. Don’t force it.

Walk away from your creative tasks and do something else.

Want to know what I did yesterday? I willingly and enthusiastically chose to shave my dog’s matted butt hair, trim his crazy long toe tufts, and then take a trip to the nearest self-serve dog washing station to give him a thorough scrubbing with blueberry scented shampoo. I woke up and thought I can work on the three paintings I started in the studio OR I can get covered from head to toe in dog hair and soapy water.

I’d rather be covered in dog hair right now.

When you try to force the creative process, it can make the burnout even worse. Walk away and do something menial. Spend time with friends. Call your Mom. Shave your dog’s butt dreads off. Organize your underwear drawer. Clean the whole house. Fold all of the towels in the bathroom like sushi rolls.

Menial tasks help to shift your attention to recharge.

2. Feed your brain a variety of information.

In order to create, you need to take in stimuli from the outside world. You need input for output. If you spend too much time creating, and not enough time feeding your brain, you’re going to run out of steam.

When you have exhausted your creativity, focus your attention in a different area. Consume outside information. Read a new book. Watch YouTube videos. Cook a new recipe. Go to a museum. Learn a new hobby. Take a community education class.

Your brain needs more fuel in order to create a creative product. Feed it. Why do you think I write blog posts and nerd out on spreadsheets to track my social media growth? It’s a different way to stimulate my brain.

3. Stay aligned with your passion and purpose.

I made a mistake by starting my year thinking about the income I could make.  I should have instead started my year thinking about the art I want to make. I immediately put more pressure on my work by telling myself it needed to be financially productive.

Yes, I need to make money from this, but if I just wanted money I would be working for someone else. That’s a whole lot easier than being a professional artist. If you are a creative person, passion should come first.  Creativity is often fragile. The more you force it, the further away it gets.

Creativity + pressure to make money + real world burdens + bills to pay = “Why am I doing this? My work sucks. I’m going to fail. Oh sh*t.” 

If you want to make art, then think about making art. Priority number one. Make art to make art. Don’t make art to make money.

4. Say no.

If you are experiencing burnout, prune your to-do list and learn how to say ‘no’ to new things until you have the energy to give again. Focus on your high priority tasks and let the rest get put on the back burner for a bit.

You have a choice in everything in your life. I don’t have to write a new blog post. I don’t have to post on Instagram. I don’t have to create a new painting. I want to. These are all choices that I make. Which means, I can take a break and focus on my mental regeneration when I need to.

Giving yourself the power to say ‘no’ and to prioritize what really matters in life will help you overcome and avoid creative burnout.

5. Carve out creative downtime in your schedule.

You can’t be productive all the time. You just can’t. All creative people go through cycles that involve doing nothing, consuming outside information, idea incubation, and actually creating. You have to see it as a process and work this into your life.

If you try to force yourself to be productive and create all the time, this will almost always lead to burnout. (Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m apparently terrible at taking my own advice.)

Build your life around your creative cycles. Expect and plan for the downtime you need to keep you from burning out. Whether that means planning a few large projects a year, or only scheduling creative tasks a month in advance. Do what works for you.

Your creative self will thank you.


Instead of starting my New Year with a bang, it has come in with a fizzle and a whole bunch of Netflix. But, you know what? That’s okay. I’ve planned for moments like this. Even though I ignored my own advice at first and found myself in this burned out state, I can feel my energy begin to return. Maybe, just maybe you’ll find me in the studio today.

How about you? Have you experienced creative burnout? What did you do to get over it? I’d love to hear from you. You can leave a comment below while commenting is open, or reach out to me directly through email or Instagram.

Thanks for reading and make sure to checkout all my other posts!


P.S. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers!

Further Reading: 

How to Make Art a Habit and Stop Waiting for Inspiration to Create

8 Thoughts You’ll Have as an Artist

Are You Forcing Yourself into an Art Business Before You’re Ready?