The Best Online Resources for Artists Part Six

The Best Online Resources for Artists Part Six


Free online art resources for artists part six


Each week I write a brand new article to support members of our three wonderful groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout. This week we take a look at part six of this six part series as I guide you through some of the most interesting places to find valuable online resources for visual artists, oh and they’re mostly free!

Part Six…

Originally I had only intended to write one article about finding the best resources online but the response was overwhelming and I would like to thank everyone who got in touch and I hope that by now you will be well and truly stuck into the habit of learning new things about the art world.

I am planning on putting all of the resources together in a single update in the near future as a definitive guide to the best online resources for artists, but there are so many I do worry that I might have missed a few! So here’s your opportunity to add to that epic list of resources and let me know the ones that you use for learning about the arts on a regular basis. I will feature the best ones and include them in the list too. Just leave a comment or ping me an email using the contact form on this site and let me know who or what I have missed!

The other thing that really struck me when writing these articles was the sheer breadth of resources available for free and even more surprising was the number of large corporations who really do take the arts very seriously. In the first article we looked at the work that Google and others do, and then the amazing art program operated by Nando’s and many more. 

What also surprised me about those corporate arts programs was that the majority of them were active and the companies involved weren’t just using the arts program as just something that was hip and trendy to do. Many of the arts programs were hidden in the depths of their websites and it wasn’t always obvious that a company was involved in any arts program at all, in some cases it was a task to figure out who was doing what. When I dug deeper though I was amazed at some of the great work some of these corporations were doing around the arts.

There were a few I decided not to include in any of the articles because I did get the distinct impression that some of the organisations were running arts programs just because it seemed like a hip and trendy thing to do. For the most part many of them gave the appearance of just paying lip service and in a couple of instances the programs looked like a way to justify the companies own art collections to shareholders.

I will be covering some of the best corporate art programs in a future article but today we dig a little deeper into the internet and figure out where the best online resources for artists part six are hiding!


Tiger Queen by Mark Taylor
Tiger Queen: one of my latest creations!

Arts Edge…

Since the Kennedy Center’s opening in 1971, schoolchildren, parents, grandparents and educators have visited the Kennedy Center and it has become somewhat of a cultural resource over the years. ARTSEDGE was created in 1996 as the centre’s educational media arm and has been reaching out into schools and communities, individuals and families, with not just online resources but printed materials and classroom support resources ever since.

There’s a lot of content on the site which you can find here, and the site is further divided into sections for educators and features lessons, how to’s, and standards. There are also categories of resources aimed at students and families. It’s a compelling website with some useful content and plenty of video to keep you hooked in and if you are an educator, there are some decent resources on the site too.

The Terra Foundation…

The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts, but dig a little deeper away from their mission statement and you will find a wealth of useful resources that shine a light on American art. 

You can find the main site right here, but take a look under what we offer and you will find a link to the American art resources section which you can also view by clicking here.  

Within this section is a world of American art resources that include everything from classroom tools to the Terra Foundation Center for digital collections at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. 

There are also plenty of videos and audio file to watch and listen to and the whole site is geared toward giving you a deep insight into American art and it is truly fascinating.

Smithsonian American Art Museum…

I love the Smithsonian and particularly the resources available through the Smithsonian’s many websites. Everything that they do online seems to be geared towards providing quality educational resources in the arts but there is a very specific site that I visit frequently. It is The Smithsonian American Art Museum which you can find right here.  

There are local and national programs for teachers, students and adult learners and the site features pretty much everything you need to discover American art. There are plenty of resources for kids too and looking through the K-12 resources section alone will keep both kids and adults entertained with some great content. The K-12 resources can be found here.  

Whilst the focus is providing resources for children on this particular section of the site, if you are new to the history of American art there is plenty of content that will give adults an insight into this fascinating subject in bite sized steps, before you move onto looking at the resources on offer through the Terra Foundation. 

One resource in particular that lends itself to both adult and child learning is Oh Freedom, which teaches African American Civil Rights through art at the Smithsonian. The Oh Freedom site can be found here, and offers an introduction to the Civil Rights movement through the unique lens that the Smithsonian offers. 

Oh Freedom compiles and interprets a selection of more than three-dozen artworks from the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and The National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

There are also pointers to additional resources such as biographies and a variety of secondary sources such as historical artefacts, photographs, and music and vocal recordings. 

There are also resources that provide tips on interpreting art, and if you are an educator then you’ll find plenty of other resources for the classroom including lesson plans. 

Cooper Hewitt…

Carrying on with the Smithsonian, Cooper Hewitt is the Smithsonian Design Museum and the only museum in North America devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. You can find the main website right here.  

There are a myriad of resources in the professional development section of the website which you can find right here,  and it is here that you will find links to hundreds of videos, the Cooper Hewitt Collection, and if you are an educator or home schooler, then there are more than 400-lesson plans that you can explore, each with information about other useful resources. 

It is here that you will find a further link to the Cooper Hewitt Education Department which is part of the Smithsonian Learning Lab. This is where things really start to make sense, the Learning Lab is a major rethinking of how the digital resources from across the Smithsonian’s 19-museums, 9-major research centres, the National Zoo and others can be used together for learning. 

The site also encourages users to create and share personal collections of Smithsonian assets and user-generated resources, and it aspires to build a global community of learners who are passionate about adding to and bringing to light new ideas.

If you want to watch a video about the Learning Lab you can check it out right here.  

The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access is the home of all things education based and you can find more of the Smithsonian’s various programs right here.  


The Emperor by Mark Taylor

Image: The Emperor by Mark Taylor

Web Gallery of Art…

The Web Gallery of Art is a searchable database of European Fine Arts and architecture (8th-19th centuries), and currently contains more than 45,000 reproductions, artist biographies, commentaries and guided tours, in short this is a virtual museum which you can find right here.  

There is an alphabetic list of artists which gives basic information about each artist and as is often the case with these types of sites, visitors can curate their own collections. What sets this site apart from many others though is that there is a balanced mixture of interlinked visual and textual information.

Back in May 2018 there were some major changes to the site with more than 650 new reproductions added to the collection from 80 new artists. You can see everything that has been added by visiting the sites “what’s new” page right here.  

There is a key difference with this site when compared to others of a similar nature in that it is regularly updated. Many other sites I have visited whilst carrying out the research from this series have found to be somewhat lacking in recent updates which is a real shame, so it is refreshing to come across a site that is not only a valuable resource for anyone with a love for the arts, but a consistently updated resource too.

Creative Scotland…

Whilst many of the resources featured during this series have come from some of the best museums and art institutions around the world, Scotland has been a little left out. That is until now. Creative Scotland is a public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland. You can find the site right here.  

Whilst the content itself is heavily Scotland based as you would expect, there are a heap of resources that really do drill down into Scottish arts and when you take a look you begin to realise just how critical Scotland is in the arts.

PBS…

PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) is America’s largest classroom and now that PBS documentaries are showing on Netflix in the UK, they are also one of my favourite broadcasters of documentary and educational programs. 

You can find the PBS Arts site here, but the only downside is if you are visiting the site from outside of the USA some of the video content won’t be available due to rights issues. Having said that there are plenty of resources which appear to be available from many countries, you just have to dig around on the site a little to find them.

When you do come across videos that will play in your region you will notice that the quality really is very good. There are weekly magazine shows such as the Spotlight on Colorado which you can find here, although why they didn’t feature my good friend and Colorado artist Joshua is anyone’s guess! 

Another video again featuring art within Colorado is called State of the Art which you can find here, and this particular video takes you on a tour of Colorado Spring’s new state-of-the-art educational facility, and an inaugural exhibit by Floyd D. Tunson in the Ent Centre’s new Marie Walsh Sharpe gallery of Contemporary Art. It also features Ai Weiwei’s latest documentary giving us a global view of the refugee crisis and a 3D printed violin. 

If you want something even more specific from PBS featuring the arts then head over to PBS Learning Media which is here,  and take a look at the KQED Art School.  

This is a video series that introduces contemporary artists who discuss their careers and intentions, then demonstrate hands-on techniques or concepts. Again some of the videos do seem to be affected by rights restrictions when viewing outside of the USA so it can be a little hit or miss depending on what you want to watch.

I started off with Lettering Artistry with Jessica Hische who is a San Francisco artist and author who has designed everything from chocolate lettering to a Wes Anderson movie title sequence, and she takes us into her studio with a demo of custom design lettering. You can watch that video right here.  

A couple of hours later I ended up watching Stencils on the Street with Mike Shine which you can view here, and learned about his personal history as an artist and his process for creating large scale stencils.

So whilst it can be a little frustrating if you reside outside the US to view all of the videos, what are available (at least here in the UK) are of a high quality and offer some great insights into the lives of other artists and their processes.


Guardians of the Ocean by Mark Taylor
Guardians of the Ocean is another in my latest series!

Los Angeles Arts-Ed Collective…

Clearly this week I have been heavily focussing on American based resources and for good reason, there are so many of them! I’ve been following the LA Arts Ed Collective for a while and just had to mention this one! 

You can find the site here and it identifies and shares effective tools and practices within the art field but it also offers many links to other supporting sites too.

One such external link is to the Teaching Artists Guild of California which is dedicated to collecting shared knowledge and resources to establish Teaching Artists as equally valued peers with partners in education, community, and social services. The reason I mention this site is that there are plenty of great resources which in some cases lend themselves not just to teaching practice in California, but resources such as the Advocacy Toolkit can be used in other States too with some minor tweaks. 

Look at the bottom of the resource pages and you will find even more links to various arts organisations and institutes so wherever you reside the site is at least a springboard to a much wider world of arts institutions and organisations. 

If it’s data you need to support an arts project or maybe you are looking for funding in the USA for an arts project or program, then head over to Americans for the Arts which you can find right here.  

There is a handy arts services directory to find arts organisations in your area and a local arts rapid response toolkit which provides you with current information and key messaging if you suddenly find that your local arts project has had its funding cut. You can find the toolkit right here and it is chock full of useful information to state your case to retain or even seek arts funding. 

The reason I included this one apart from that most of my readers are based in the USA, is that this is the type of website that other countries need to consider creating to support the arts, and also because there are other useful links to topics such as arts marketing which you can find right here,  and there is plenty of evidence based research if you find yourself needing to write anything about the arts too.

You can also visit the National Arts Marketing Project right here.  

Learning the art of art…

So another list of hopefully useful sites that you may never knew existed, but all of which have the potential to broaden your arts based knowledge and in turn, make you an even better visual artist. 

The arts are global and all too often we tend to Google something and always seem to end up with local results when what we are looking for might only exist somewhere else. When you search for the arts and specifically arts education online there is always a risk that what you are presented with is only a small proportion of what’s available out there on the wider internet. The result is that you get a view from one cultural perspective when the reality is that to fully understand the arts you need to consider views from other cultures too.

Something else that has really struck me throughout this series is just how committed the organisations and individuals concerned with the creation of each of these sites, services, and resources really are, and just glancing through the list of links from throughout the series tells me that there is so much more to be discovered about the arts and that tomorrow there will be even more information that we will want to learn about. 

Being an artist also means that you have at least a small responsibility to support the arts more broadly. There are still many people who just don’t get that arts education is so very important in all walks of life. Not only the formal arts education, but the self-guided education and experience that we pick up as artists as our careers advance which I believe is when the real learning starts. 

Critical and creative thinking are just two of the skills we get from studying the arts and they are skills that are sought after by employers the world over regardless of what their business is. But it also goes deeper, as an artist at whatever level you are at, you become a custodian of the arts so that art history can be built upon and passed on to future generations. 

I remember reading the transcript of a speech made by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and I remember reading that he said to those gathered: Dear artists, as I draw to a conclusion, I too would like to make a cordial, friendly and impassioned appeal to you, as did my Predecessor. You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. 

You can read the full transcript right here, and whilst I never cover religion on this site or on social media, and not being a deeply religious person, the words “You are the custodians of beauty” have stuck with me ever since I read it. We really are the custodians of beauty. 

Hopefully you have found this series helpful and have enjoyed it as much as I have writing it. If there are any websites and resources I have missed then let me know by leaving a comment so I can include the best ones in the directory of artist resources which I will be publishing very soon. 


parrots in the Night Garden by Mark Taylor


My New Collection...

Many of you will know that I released my Wild Symmetry series of art last weekend and I have scattered the new works throughout this article, and thanks so much for all of the love, likes, and wows, on social media! You can purchase any of the works as prints via my Fine Art America or Pixels site here, but did you know you can also get this series on other items too?

Parrots in the Night Garden (above) looks great on throw cushions and adds a real touch of the orient to any space, and Tiger Queen and The Emperor look fantastic on phone cases. Before Summer is over though you might want to take a look at the round beach towels, this series works really well on those and if you are heading off to the beach, why not take one of these along with you!

Next week...

If you are sad to think this is the last post in the current series then next week I have another treat in store for you, my article on finding truly random art related resources through Google, using only four characters in the search box! Think of it as a bonus article to compliment this series! 

For now, happy creating, keep learning, and I will see you all next week!

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger who specialises in abstracts, landscapes, and seascapes. My work is sold in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada including The Great Frame Up, Framing and Art Centre, and Deck the Walls and you can also buy from Fine Art America or my Pixels site here: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com   

I also offer some works directly and these come signed with a certificate of authenticity. Please do get in touch if there are any pieces you are interested in owning, I also sell some of my original pieces through this route too! 

You can also follow me on Facebook at: https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia and on Twitter @beechhouseart

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or just buy me a coffee so I can keep on writing hopefully useful articles for you, you can do so right here.

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