Welcome! You've probably just arrived here from Julian's wonderful Postcard from Provence.

In case we haven't met before, hi - I'm Paul, a self taught painter.

For the last few months, I've been building an Art Practice Community website called Creative Triggers that I hope is going to help you develop your drawing and painting skills.

Julian and I have arranged a little something special for you: A heavily discounted offer on membership for the new site, for life - details are below.

First though, here's a bit of info about what Creative Triggers will give you:

What Does it Really Take to Improve Your Drawing and Painting Skills?

Learning to draw and paint can be a frustrating experience.

It's difficult enough to figure out where to start. Is it better to draw first, or go straight into painting? Should you concentrate on values first, or colour? And how do you learn those things anyway?

Believe me, I know. Seven years ago, I started teaching myself to draw and paint. I made a lot of mistakes. But I also learned something about what it really takes to improve your drawing and painting.

I learned that what you need more than anything else is an effective way to practise regularly and a structure to learn within.

For a long time it's been my dream to put my experience of teaching myself into a coherent learning method, to save other learning artists some of the frustration I went through.

To that end, I've spent the last few months putting together Creative Triggers, a private membership site, for which there's an affordable monthly fee.

Here's what I have for you:

  • A collection of simple, focused exercises to build core skills like value control, drawing accuracy and picture design
  • A tried and tested method for establishing a daily practice habit
  • A forum where you can get feedback on your progress, keep yourself on track and share with other practising artists

When I started teaching myself, I found it hard to find good online resources that would help me learn. There's much more information available now, but still, most of it is about technique. There's precious little on effective ways to practice. And you know as well as I do: All the information in the world won't make you any better an artist if you don't put it into practice.

That's what Creative Triggers is about - effective ways to practice and build your skills. I have one overriding goal for it: I want to give you the most effective way to develop your drawing and painting skills I can.

How?

I believe that the most effective way to grow artistically is to take the skills you need for specific areas of drawing and painting, for example value, and create focused exercises to practice each skill in isolation from everything else.

Most teachers don't teach this way. Most artists don't practice this way. We tend to just sit down and try to produce a finished piece every time we work.

But a lot of research into effective practice, coupled with my own experiments in teaching myself and some work with private students has taught me that there's a more efficient, effective way to improve our skills. Sports people know it. Musicians know it. But visual artists rarely do it.

I call it "Structured Practice", and it's what's helped me to overcome some of the difficulties in learning to draw and paint, like value control and drawing accuracy; how to create depth and a feeling of light and realism; how to judge and mix colour accurately.

Once I started to practice in a more focused, structured way, my work improved dramatically:

What's different about this method?

There are three parts to this method:

  • A series of simple, repeatable exercises designed to develop your core skills. These are initially based around design, values and drawing accuracy - the main core skills. The first few exercises are live on the site now, and more will be added as we go along.

  • A method of establishing a daily practice habit to ensure you get the most from the exercises.

  • A practice community forum where you can keep track of your daily progress and share it with other members. Participating in the daily update threads is a powerful way to keep yourself on track and practising regularly.

Each exercise comes with a detailed description and video demonstrations. Here's a screen shot of one of the exercises pages:

The members-only forum has boards for each exercise, so that you can discuss it and get feedback on you're doing.

You can post questions, if you're unsure about how to proceed with something, and also help others with their exercises. I'll be actively involved and trying to help you get most from your practice.

You'll also be able to make suggestions that will shape the direction of the site. This is a community, after all.

How do I know if it's right for me?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you really want to improve your drawing and painting? Enough to work at it?
  • Do you believe that with practice, you can improve?
  • Can you commit to drawing - at least a little - every day?
  • Will you have the patience to work regularly on simple, focused exercises in order develop your skill?

If you answered 'yes' to all of those, then it might be for you.

If you're thinking about joining, there's something you should know first.

This method is very new, and I'm still figuring out how to make it work best. Creative Triggers is also very new.

Because it's new, and as a thank-you for joining and having enough faith to try it out, I'm offering a limited number of places at a reduced price.

Sign up to become one of the first members and you'll get a fixed, low price for life

The full price for membership of Creative Triggers will be $25 per month (about £16).

Postcard from Provence readers can join for $10 per month (just less than £7) - and it will never go up for you as long as you continue your membership.

I have some good reasons for doing this. There might be a technical problem or two. We might discover better ways of doing some things. Your feedback will help guide the future direction of the site. You'll be contributing in a very real way to making Creative Triggers a better, more effective site for everyone.

This offer is my way of saying thanks for being one of the first people to try this new method.

How can I find out more?

Just enter your email address below. Once you've registered, I'll send you:

  • Full descriptions and video demos of some of the exercises. You can take these away and use them whether you decide to join or not. I want you to know exactly what you'll be paying for.

  • The munsell cube exercise: A value exercise that will help you get a firmer grasp of relative value. This exercise is at the heart of how I learned to handle values. This version of it has been tested with private students and is clear and easy to follow. Done diligently, it will help you improve your handling of value, whether you decide become a member or not.

  • A sight size drawing exercise: An in depth, step-by-step description of a sight size copy of a Sargent portrait drawing. It's designed to teach drawing accuracy, form and values. First published in a series of posts on learning to see, I've pulled it together into a single exercise for download.

All of the above is free for you to do whatever you like with. There's no obligation to join the site.

Once you have it all, I hope you'll be in a really good position to decide whether the Creative Triggers Art Practice Community is for you.

If you do join, I want it to be because you're excited to start developing your skills, because you're ready to commit to the practice. In return, I'll do whatever I can to help you build your drawing and painting skills.

REGISTER NOW TO FIND OUT MORE:

  • Be first to hear when the site is open for new members
  • Get early access at a low price, fixed for life
  • See some free sample exercises

If you want to find out a bit more about how I developed my own drawing and painting, I've documented pretty much the whole process at my blog, Learning to See.

Best wishes,

Paul