One of the biggest investments you can make in your creative practice is to study with a university or college.

Whether you’re considering a Foundation course, Bachelors Degree, Masters or PhD, an educational course will give you access to equipment, professional teaching, studio space, engagement with peers, clear projects and deadlines, and continuous guidance.

If this option isn’t viable for you, consider joining a local artist group, or hunting around for a life drawing class, painting workshop, or something similar in your area. If you can’t find a group nearby, maybe you should make one yourself! Together you can create an online platform, take turns hosting workshops, give group critique sessions to help with independent projects, and create group exhibitions in your local community!

There are also free online courses out there. This basic example is a good starting point for beginners or anyone who’s out of practice. The advice on materials and various challenges are particularly useful.

June Forster

BA in Fine Art
MA in Fine Art
PhD in Fine Art
Teacher at Aberystwyth University

‘I find teaching informs my painting, and painting informs my teaching (…) working on your own can be isolating, so interaction with students is a wonderful way of keeping the conversation going.’

‘Be persistent. You’ll need to develop a thick skin and strong belief in your own ability.’

‘If it’s a choice between buying a new dress and some new paints, get the paint. You don’t need stuff- there’s already too much stuff in the world.’



Start buying good quality materials. Not all at once- but every time you have a little money to spare, go buy yourself a new paintbrush or a good quality notebook. Whatever your medium, investing time, energy and money is a reminder to yourself that this is a skill you want to cultivate.

Think about what size notebook/ sketchbook will work best for your uses; too big and it isn’t portable, too small and there’s no room to get messy. If you want to use paints, the paper needs to be reasonably thick so it wont wrinkle and tear.

You never know when some idle messing around with paint will result in something brilliant- and when it does, you’ll wish you’d been using better quality paper! Get used to working on high quality materials and take the fear out of your practice.



Start setting aside 5 minutes a day to dedicate to your craft– set challenges or games for yourself! For example:

  • Maybe you close your eyes, take a pen and draw a continuous line over a piece of paper. When you open your eyes, start to play with the shape in front of you- add some swathes of colour or throw in some texture with oil pastels or acrylic.
  • Maybe you decide to pull out your watercolours and make a colour chart to remind yourself just how many shades you can make between red and yellow.
  • If you’re a writer, maybe you pick the first word you see written down that day and set a 10 minute timer to create a short story or poem about that topic.

Use your craft like a muscle; the more you work it, the stronger it’ll become and the easier it will be to use.