New Masters Academy is an online art education platform that aims to provide high quality content at a low monthly cost. The focus of the NMA is on art fundamentals, particularly drawing and painting, with an emphasis on the figure.
What initially convinced me to sign up for a subscription to New Masters Academy was the impressive roster of artistic talent they have. Glenn Vilppu, Steve Huston, Bill Perkins, Joe Weatherly, Gary Meyer and several others have contributed and the list continues to grow.
NMA is essentially an online collection of art workshops with subjects ranging from composition, drawing, painting, anatomy, and sculpture. This format is the cause of both the site’s strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand you have access to tons of high quality content taught by first class artists on a multitude of different subjects. On the other hand if you jump between instructors and lessons you’ll get contradictory solutions to the same problems and ultimately end up confused, especially if you’re a beginner. In any art form there are multiple ways to achieve similar results and not all of those ways will be compatible with one another. Frazetta didn’t paint like Rockwell, who didn’t paint like Gérôme, who didn’t paint like Sargent, who didn’t paint like Rembrandt and so on. If you’re starting from scratch it helps to have some guidance on what to study and how best to study, and NMA isn’t in the business of doing that.
For this reason I think those who will most benefit from a subscription to the site are intermediate to advanced artists who want to improve specific skills. If you have a solid foundation in the fundamentals seeing how different artists work will be helpful and inspirational. If you’re fresh off of reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain I’d suggest looking elsewhere. Update: NMA is now offering a new Beginner Program which teaches the fundamentals in a guided series. It starts with drawing materials and setup, basic drawing principles, and then begins moving into subjects such as cast and landscape drawing.
For those artists who are intermediate to advanced, the New Masters Academy is an excellent resource. They provide an extensive catalog of video lessons, reference photos, timed figure drawing videos and access to their community via social media and online chat. There’s also a subscription option that will give you access to additional 3D reference models.
My only complaint with the video lessons is that they don’t come with any type of assignments. This is my complaint with a lot of online art videos as a matter of fact. Drawing and painting demonstrations are nice and watching them can lead to fresh ideas and inspiration, but without having any sort of structured practical application their efficacy is greatly diminished. Recent additions, such as Steve Huston’s series of head drawing lessons, have added drawing assignments, which are followed by videos of Huston’s approach. I think this is a good start and I hope NMA continues to add more content like this (Update: Many of the lessons that have been released on NMA since I originally wrote this review now have assignments. They’ve also added coaching plans where you receive a personalized learning plan and feedback from an instructor among other things.)
It’d be hard for me not to recommend New Masters Academy. The content is excellent (if not perfect) and membership is very affordable. Just keep in mind the above caveats before signing up. Also if you’re not sure about whether or not NMA is a good fit for you, check out the free content on their Youtube page.
Visit New Masters Academy at www.newmastersacademy.org
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