"I had been trying to learn on my own for several years before I joined the Virtual Art Academy®. Other teachers often offered helpful tips or clever tricks to improve various aspects of my work, but their teaching range was limited to a specific medium or subject. None of them provided a broad-based education in the fundamentals of art and design that I desperately wanted. I was long past college age and couldn’t imagine returning to a formal school setting to obtain a new degree in art; it would have been too disruptive to our family life. Virtual Art Academy offered exactly the kind of program I needed — a thorough, home-based, self-paced program that would lift my skill level from “hobbyist” to “professional.” I started with the basic, beginner program but within a month realized I wanted a lot more. I upgraded to the full program and haven’t regretted it for a moment. Much of our learning takes place as students evaluate and comment on both masters’ and peers’ work. It is through these evaluations that we learn to identify similar situations in our own work (sometimes problems, sometimes strengths), learn to recognize appropriately applied theory, consider alternative approaches to problems, and verbalize our artistic intentions. So our full participation in the online community helps our own work as much as it may benefit those whose work we comment on. Although Barry himself keeps a largely hands-off approach with the online campus, he is available to address major questions that occasionally arise. This means that the students do not sit back silently, awaiting Word from the Great Leader, but rely on one another for any direct, day-to-day feedback. This keeps the creative student discussions active and lively, which benefits us all. (Besides, it’s fun to interact regularly with fellow students from around the world.) Since applying myself to the Virtual Art Academy assignments, my work has noticeably improved in technical skill as well as in range and maturity. I work confidently in more than a single medium now, and have developed a good-sized body of work. One of my assignment paintings hung in a national show last spring." ......... Charlotte Mertz, Fort Myers, FL, June 21, 2013 http://charlottemertz.com/gallery

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