My First Time Taking up a Schoolism Class and the Importance of Learning

Going back to my deviantArt days, I had so many artists that I admired.

Even up to now, I still remember how their art made me feel and what had influenced me throughout time. It was in that platform that I got to know about Bobby Chiu, Kei Acedera, and Imaginism Studios too.

Eventually, I found out about Schoolism too when I was in college if my memory serves me right.

Think of Schoolism as an online art school where your mentors are award-winning, talented, and hard-working artists in the industry.

And when there’s school, there’s homework!

The instructors give an assignment to apply the topics covered in a certain lesson, and students can apply what they have learned immediately afterward.

Besides online classes which you can either learn on your own or with the teacher himself (and get feedback from too!), they organize workshops called Schoolism Live at different parts of the world. In addition to these, they have what they call the Schoolism House at a lakeside environment in Sainte-Julienne, Quebec in Canada. Applicants get the chance to be handpicked and stay for 30 days there and learn through their training program from instructor Thierry Lafontaine.

Since learning about Schoolism, I wanted to take a class, but I still couldn’t at that time in college. Besides, I was taking a Multimedia Arts course, so it would be practical to go back to learning again when I’ve graduated and gained a little experience already.

I’ve worked at a corporate environment in an IT company for three years and after that, I decided to take on the full-time artist route, a path that is not usually taken so early on, but perhaps the timing presented itself already. I’ve always loved learning, and while I’m still at the start of my journey as an illustrator and writer, I know that I should be investing on my skills and knowledge as early as now. But since I couldn’t take the classes yet for the years that have passed, I would watch Bobby Chiu’s videos on his YouTube channel where he gives insightful tips and advices and holds interesting and helpful interviews with artists in different industries. I still do so today at times!

Fortunately at the start of this year, I was able to avail Schoolism’s promo of accessing all courses for a year at an affordable price! It was such a valuable opportunity, and I didn’t want to miss it, so I do my best to carve time, attention, learning, and energy for the classes. Right now, they have a Summer Sale, so if you want to improve your craft and learn from the best, head on to their website!

My first class is Thomas Fluharty’s Drawing Fundamentals Class, because I told myself that before I delve into lighting or character design, I should go back to the basics, since these are the great and sturdy foundations on which all other aspects are established on. I listed down the classes I wanted to take and began with this one.

Here, he tackled important aspects like seeing, value, perspective, composition, and gesture. Apart from the significant tips I took note of in my sketchbook, the biggest takeaway lesson for me, which I whole-heartedly agree with, is that drawing is really seeing.

What does my subject look like, where is this thing attached to, what am I seeing and observing?

To me, to be better at drawing something on paper is to start seeing the object first as it is.

Here are my notes, sketches, and homework from the Drawing Fundamentals class. We had reference images for these:



My own drawing where I applied what I learned in value.



And here are some digital works in my assignments in Composition. We were given reference images to arrange to create a pleasant-looking piece.


After drawing this one and watching Thomas Fluharty’s feedback videos on his students, I realized that I missed something important about composition. I focused only on creating an appealing piece, but I did not give much thought as to why I made it look this way. The subject is the white dog, which I made to look like Bentley, my Aunt’s and cousins’ dog who recently passed. 🙁 But I did not incorporate a reason why or a story behind it, and composition is supposed to serve the story or moral. Lesson for me: it’s not just about the visual aesthetics but also the story being told behind the arrangement and lighting of elements.

Doggies at the Park_Bentley 2018

Lastly, here are my notes on the last video which was Gesture.

I looked up for reference images on this one and tried to draw them, considering the people’s line of action.


Everything follows the line of action.

And that’s about it! I definitely learned so much from Mr. Fluharty (Thank you, Sir!). Because of his class, I’m able to apply tips, tricks, and of course, the fundamentals in my works. Check out his excellent caricatures in his website!

In the last video, our instructor said to keep drawing.

Over the years, this has been a consistent and timeless tip that I’ve heard from many different artists. He also suggested to carry a small sketchbook and draw. If there’s no paper available, take mental notes.

Wherever we go, I always bring a sketchbook with me and trusty pencils. Consistency, observation, habits, and practice make for improvement in drawing.

I forgot to mention that Thomas Fluharty showed good and bad examples of the topics he taught about in the classes. It helps to see these to be able to evaluate our own works too.

I also love that he mentioned about humility. Even if we do gain experience and cap off amazing projects, we may raise ourselves to pride and say that we already know everything there is to know. He reminded me that though we may attain the things that we define as part of success, we must be level-headed and down-to-earth and say, “Please teach me” or “I am willing to learn from you” or “There’s really so much more that I do not know.”

On a final note, I’m recommending that you take Schoolism classes!

These are valuable investments to your education and application of techniques and basic and added knowledge on drawing, storyboarding, character development, traditional and digital painting, lighting, and many more areas of interest.

Learning never stops when we step out of school. The Internet has countless resources for us to study, swallow, and digest! I hope we do not take that for granted. We just have to be intentional in making time for our continuous improvement.

Besides, if not on the Internet, we can still learn from everything around us. There’s always a story behind these things we see, there’s always something to learn. Even from drawing a jar of peanut butter, there’s much to see and draw and glean from! The same can be said with inspiration. Maybe what we’re waiting for before we draw is the feeling of inspiration rather than the object of inspiration. A curtain probably can’t make me feel inspired to draw so energetically and enthusiastically, but it is a potential object I can take inspiration from to create art with.

Magnets. Phones. Easels. Mirrors. Jackets. Trees. Animals. Nature. Life.

Draw what you can and see what you can learn from them, what you can take inspiration from with them!

I remember Bobby saying in one of his Little Plant People Thoughts and Philosophies that the great artists still go back to taking classes and learning as much as they can, even if it may seem that they don’t need to anymore, because they’ve created so many beautiful pieces and have established their names and works already. But we still see them going back to the fundamentals and to daily practice. To sketching. To painting. To the little things that when compounded time after time improves our arsenal of skills, knowledge, heart, and experience in what we love doing.

Another great example would be an animation studio that I love: Tonko House. I see from their Instagram posts and YouTube videos that during mornings, they would place a subject in the middle of their office or in any corner and just paint. Sometimes, they would go outside for a change.

I’m inspired by all of these people’s journeys in bettering their craft and themselves in the process, and I hope that I was able to share with you the joy and importance of learning continuously too. I’m incredibly thankful to them all for sharing their thoughts and processes and works to people and the Schoolism platform is just beneficial for everyone who wants to learn.

Truth be told, in some of my college classes before, the goal was just to pass. I was focused on grades and on just doing things out of compliance and never on producing good work. Well, I did pour my heart out in my personal pieces, but that’s a different story. I didn’t intend so much to learn then. I hope today, I’m making up for that lost time and chances.

And when we’ve learned, we share what we know to others. Pay it forward, as they say. In the words of Maya Angelou too: “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”

Though I do not see myself as a teacher (yet?), I can point you to some of the very helpful resources out there. And I think I mentioned them a lot already in this post!

So, go!

Learn, learn, learn,

share, share, share,

teach, teach, teach. 

6 Replies to “My First Time Taking up a Schoolism Class and the Importance of Learning”

  1. I love this! Thanks for sharing your artistic journey! I’m pretty vocal too about how awesome Schoolism is. I’m in awe that you were able to do all the assignments for Fundamentals of Drawing. I’ve also bought a subscription, and I’m working my way through several courses, but I don’t always have the time to do all the assignments. So I end up just taking notes and applying them whenever I work on some new art. Doing all takes a lot of persistence. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi, thank you! Yes, I did see before your own assignments and that you’re taking Schoolism classes! They are very valuable! I also do my best to carve time for them; although I did get to do the assignments in the class and watch the lessons, it took me such a long while! I started his class in January and only finished it this June, because I was busy with many things. I hope we both get to make time for them! And thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts too, Elaine! 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience here. Great writing as well as art. I’ll check out your book as well. I recently had a birthday and a family member gifted me a months subscription on Schoolism. I began Craig Mullins course because I love his style. Did you take any other courses and what are your thoughts? Also any tips or recommendations to get the most out of Schoolism?

    1. Hey, John! I’m sorry for the late reply! Thank you for your message, and you’re welcome! Schoolism for me was a great investment. I actually only got to finish one class which was Thomas Fluharty’s then I moved on to Stephen Silver’s, but I never got to finish his because I was so busy at work, I couldn’t commit for the whole year I got in Schoolism. Probably what’s ideal is to take it slowly like 1 lesson per day to let it sink in. And if you’re sure that you can schedule pockets of time to commit to watching the lesson throughout the month, that would be great, so you can make the most out of it. Right now, I’m just really busy at my day job, so I can’t commit to it, but probably when things are smoother, I’ll definitely take Schoolism again. It’s just so helpful in terms of becoming a better artist by building on the basics and then learning more as you advance into the different courses. Each lesson’s just packed with examples, technical aspects, creativity – there’s just so much to learn from it! I hope this helps! 🙂 And enjoy your Schoolism journey!

      1. Thanks so much for your reply and great advice!

      2. You’re very much welcome!

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