How do you learn to take your art to the next level?

Painting detail Alice Sheridan

When I first decided I wanted to commit to making art full time, instead of going back to my graphic design career, one of the first things I investigated was whether I should be applying to do an MA in Fine Art. Because that’s what you need in order to be a ‘proper’ artist. Without that, no one would take me seriously and I would have no idea what I was doing.

So, I looked into all the options and realised that an MA wasn’t going to give me what I needed. I spoke to students who spoke of little interaction with their tutors, lack of studio space due to  increased student numbers, the cost… and I realised that instead it was better to set my own intentions. To develop my own working practice. To decide for myself what I wanted to learn.

And I wouldn’t have to write a dissertation again!

Setting your own course

Since then I have made a continued practice of reading endlessly: artist biographies, books by art historians and others in the art world, books about the creative process.

I’ve also been building my own creative network of other working artists and looking for people I can learn from. I think I first came across Nicholas Wilton’s blog in the summer of 2015 and enjoyed his whole approach to art making. He was open about his practice, his struggles and his practical solutions and that is rare in the art world which can be very closed and sometimes secretive.

In April 2016, in the middle of packing for a holiday I somehow realised he was just about to run a 3 month online programme. At the start of that year I noted how much I would like to do a workshop with him – but getting to Mexico from the UK could be a bit of a problem. So here was the perfect alternative.

The most expensive course I had ever taken, but put in comparison with an MA it was a bargain. Still, I was nervous about signing up.

It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

If you’ve been following me for a while you will have seen how my art has changed in this time. Initially it disrupted my ongoing work as I could see what we were learning was too powerful to be ignored – I couldn’t just continue with what I was doing, but I needed time to integrate it with my own path.

The connection with other artists restored my faith, and everyone worked hard on their art and behind the scenes to make this the most helpful and response place to be learning. Truly inspiring.

For the first time, I didn’t feel like I had to play a game. Simply keep working, but this new framework of ideas helped to give me confidence, understanding and a structure. I had a way to review my own work, which is invaluable as you get so close to what you are working on it can be hard to be objective.

When they asked if I would give a testimonial I agreed without hesitation and you can see it below. (Look how much I wave my hands around!)


As an artist the moment you stop learning and exploring is the moment your art dies.

There are many ways you can continue to develop your approach. Later this year I shall be taking a residential course with Lewis Noble which I’m looking forward to. But this CVP course I know I shall always see as a turning point. If you are interested in enrolling in CVP for 2017 you have until 8th Feb to make your decision. You can find out more about it by clicking here.

Let me know below if you have any questions about it, or if you decide to go for it!

PS. I seem to have replaced a dissertation for blog posts, but I know which I prefer!

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