Other than one paint-by-numbers thing I completed when I was 30, I'd never painted anything in my life, but in August 2015, at age 55, I decided to start painting.
I bought a book called "Learn to paint in acrylics with 50 small paintings" by Mark Daniel Nelson. It's great for a beginner like I was. There are 50 lessons, each one teaching some different aspect of acrylic painting, each next lesson slightly more challenging than the previous. However, by the time I got to the 5th lesson I realized that I needed to know how to draw before I could paint.
So, I bought about a dozen books on drawing - some classics and some relatively new, and I bought some more books on color, perspective, graphic design, art history, and the philosophy of art too. I love to read! I finished the 50 small paintings, but as I worked through them, I discovered YouTube.
Well, I actually discovered YouTube in 2005, but I used it only to find good music. But when I realized that it's full of "how-to" videos, I searched for "how to paint acrylics" and in November 2015 accidentally found a series on oil painting from a site called DrawMixPaint.com. Run by Mark Carder, an accomplished portrait painter & fine artist, the site offers a complete start-to-finish course on oil painting that is absolutely free. I devoured it. Soon, my brother was building studio equipment for me and I was converting a spare room into an artist's studio.
In the last week of March 2016, eight months after I decided to start painting, I completed my first oil painting, which you see here. I could say that I'm self-taught since I've never stepped foot into a traditional classroom in any kind of art school, but I'm not going to say that.
Everything I have learned about painting I learned from someone else, either from a book they've written, or (and especially) from the videos they've made. I may not have sat in a classroom or workshop, but it's as though I've had some of the world's greatest teachers right beside me all the way. I certainly couldn't be doing what I'm doing had it not been for Mark Carder's DrawMixPaint course. That's not to say I know everything - I've just begun to scratch the surface of what I need to know. It's just to say that education doesn't necessarily have to be formal to be good.
As authors often say, I've received huge amounts of help from some very generous people and owe most of what I'm able to do to them while the mistakes I still make, and any failings you may see, are all my own. The hardest part of learning is, I believe, finding what one needs to do better and having the patience and determination to continue working at it. Isn't that what they teach in school?