The Fine Art of YouTube

Learning from artists on YouTube during the COVID-19 crisis

Greetings artists, crafters and art lovers. In our previous blog posts we’ve explored an array of virtual museum tours that are available online. This time, I’d like to take a peek at what YouTube has to offer the budding artist during this stay-safe, stay-home time.  But before we move on to the offerings of YouTube, I’d like to highlight something originating closer to home. New Haven’s Creative Arts Workshop has instituted Zoom-powered virtual visits with their instructors called  Creating Freely that range from personal studio tours  to mini-lessons and demonstrations. Be sure to check out their schedule.

And now, on to YouTube!

As I’m sure you know, YouTube is filled with user-made and uploaded videos of all kinds on just about any topic you can imagine, from a how-to on replacing rusted drainpipes to a 20-year-old Pavarotti concert. Today we’re going to focus on those that demonstrate and teach art-making skills. At this point there are hundreds, possibly thousands of YouTubers who proudly share bits and pieces of their artistic process with growing numbers of viewers. But here we will single out several who, in the face of their own quarantine situation, are offering free livestream sessions where they not only provide technique instruction in a variety of media but share bits of themselves and their own lives in hopes using art to raise the spirits of their viewers during these dark days.

First up, Cinnamon Cooney, a.k.a. “The Art Sherpa” who has been providing upbeat lessons in acrylic painting on YouTube for so long that she now has her own line of art materials available through major retailers. Cinnamon is streaming live daily during “Acrylic April”. Her mother, Ginger Cook, a long-time commercial artist whose work you’ll recognize from greeting cards, jigsaw puzzles, and a variety of housewares is also broadcasting her “Quarantine Quickies” daily from her home outside of Houston, Texas. Another acrylic painter, Angela Anderson, livestreams multiple times per week from her home in Arkansas. She is a former art teacher and award-winning fine artist whose live instruction may run as long as two hours as she explains the intricacies of the techniques she is demonstrating. Lachri Fine Art livestreams weekly most often using colored pencils and acrylics to render her hyper-realistic, often fantastical creatures and landscapes as well as live critiques of viewer submissions.

And it’s not all women providing these opportunities for live, interactive instruction. Steve Mitchell, a retired graphic designer and commercial artist, has returned to his love of fine art with “The Mind of Watercolor”. He combines in-depth exploration of the properties of his chosen medium with his chronicle of a quest to ‘loosen up’ his work, all sprinkled with his own brand of South Carolinian humor. On the more serious side, Schaefer Art is still finding his way in art as he delves into oils, acrylics, watercolors and drawing with equal vigor, offering beginning artists insight into the various pitfalls they may encounter. During the pandemic he has begun posting a short daily segment, talking his audience through the process of whatever he is working on. Alphonso Dunn, the author of two well-respected books on pen and ink drawing, brings his instruction to life for the YouTube viewer as he explores a variety of methods for rendering portraits, still-lifes and botanicals.

Beyond our shores, you can drop in on others around the globe who are dealing with their country’s quarantine through art. For a very upbeat look at both drawing and watercolor, tune in to “Watercolor by Shibasaki” hosted by a Japanese artist from his home. Some of his videos are subtitled, but even when they are not, the universal language of art speaks volumes. Currently, Shibasaki is broadcasting daily and often, in carefully constructed sentences, he tries to convey a positive message for his English-speaking viewers. Nellie Lestrade is a Parisian painter who prefers a palette knife to brushes and speaks rapid-fire French as she works. She does, however, have a playlist of subtitled videos to which she adds regularly. And Swedish watercolorist, Erik Lundgren allows viewers to watch over his shoulder as he creates rural scenes and streetscapes using a limited palette and often Google images as his reference photos.

For those who would prefer to appreciate art rather than experience the creation process, Philip Mould, British art dealer and host of the popular BBC show Fake or Fortune, is now producing daily programming from his home based on his personal art collection called Art in Isolation. Each day focuses on a different piece, its history and its creator.

In the end, you need more hours in the day to truly appreciate The Fine Art of YouTube.