What is the “Cookie” system for rating the painting difficulties in the Academy of Fine Art and Acrylic Painting?
We use the term “Cookie” with a number to indicate the suggested level of skill to tackle a particular tutorial. The name “1-Cookie” is the designation for the easiest, simple beginner lessons that we have and those from the “Back to Basics” series of tutorials. Despite the level of your proficiency in acrylic painting, you should be able to follow the tutorials easily and completely. We recommend everybody go through the back to basic tutorials to make sure you're up to speed using acrylic paints most effectively.
The “2-Cookie” level is often thought of as the intermediate lessons. You will find a wide variety of painting subjects in our “1 and 2-Cookie” tutorials. They are all step-by-step and often allow you to either trace the original image or show you quick ways to draw it on to improve your drawing skills. These are generally short lessons, and typically less than two hours. Our goal is to paint on smaller canvases, usually 8″ x 10″ or 6″ x 8″ when building your skills. We have found that even though some of these images look challenging if you have mastered the basic techniques of blending and brushwork, most of our students can see very successful results even if they've never painted before. We encourage our students not to try to do the paintings larger than the tutorial because you will be changing the impact designed into the final painting. Changing an image from horizontal to vertical requires some special skills to ensure the painting will still appeal to the viewer. When starting, it is best to keep orientation as the lesson shows it. Ginger Cook's tutorials on YouTube are either a “1-Cookie” or “2-Cookie” lesson.
Two Cookie lessons are often more detailed, requiring more blending techniques, which can successfully be enlarged. We often show the grid method for expanding the drawing for your painting but tracing the images is also available.
When people look at our “1-Cookie” and “2-Cookie” tutorials, they often think they must be advanced lessons that a beginner couldn't possibly do. But we have found that these are entirely doable, mainly if you take a vantage of the Personal Art Coaching option, which is available with some of our membership plans. Whether they are back to basic tutorials or a “Box of Cookies”, which are the most difficult and challenging and often very long painting tutorials, I think you will be shocked at what you can accomplish, just completing “1-Cookie” and “2-Cookie” tutorials.
The starting of our more advanced lessons are in the “3-Cookie” classification and are often longer than just one or two hours. It would be best if you had a good grasp of the techniques learned in our “1-Cookie” and “2-Cookie” before attempting a “3-Cookie” lesson. But again, Personal Art Coaching is available if you need help.
Our “4-Cookie” tutorials are longer videos and require different painting skills. They often involve animals, people, perspectives, or part of our Wave & Water Master Class videos. These are usually done on larger canvases and require a much longer time to paint. Once, again Personal Art Coaching is available. However, for people who feel they need some guidance, Personal Art Coaching is no substitute for developing the skills you need to complete the lesson. We do not recommend attempting the “3-Cookie”, “4-Cookie”, or the “Box of Cookie” lessons without first having developed your basic and intermediate acrylic painting skills. Even though you are excited about one of these tutorials and wish you could have it hanging in your house.
Those most advanced lessons in our “Box of Cookie” lessons, which is our most advanced and most extended tutorials, really Created his goals to get the skills to do those lessons successfully.
How do you gauge whether you are ready for a particular “Cookie” level tutorial? Try a few back to basic tutorials on small canvases; see how closely you can reproduce the painting in the video. Next, try a “1-Cookie” that you think should be very easy, and then try another “1-Cookie” that you feel looks hard. After that, try the same thing with some “2-Cookie” lessons. If you're having trouble, see if one of the easier “1-Cookie” or back to basic tutorials might be able to refresh the skills you need to complete it.
Remember to take advantage of our Personal Art Coaching. But not a substitute for actually taking the time to watch the entire video before deciding to paint it. In fact, we recommend that you watch some of the more challenging videos in your spare time, not to paint them necessarily but to see what painting skills and tips that I give in these videos that can help you.
I would suggest the following:
1. To get started, make sure you can do all the back to basic skills tutorials.
2. Make sure you have small 6 x 8 or 8 x 10 canvases available to paint on.
3. Check the supply list at the beginning of the video before you start to see if you have the right brushes and paints.
4. I suggest that you watch the tutorial before you start painting because there are times that I make changes. If you are experiencing buffering while viewing, click on the small gear in the lower-right corner to a lower resolution and be ready to pause the video and replay it if I've said something that seems confusing at first or that you don't understand. You can always rewind it as well.
5. Whenever possible, print out the reference photo. While many people do this, we do not recommend watching tutorials on your phone as it's tough to see the detail.
6. Have a hairdryer handy plugged in and ready to use while you paint.
7. If painting on heavy paper to save money, make sure that you have sealed the painting surface with a matte medium and varnish or GAC 100 from Golden.
Here are some final thoughts that I would like to share.
- Our lessons are what we call self-paced learning. There is no rush. Take your time and have fun, and we're here to help.
- Pick a subject that you find interesting. We have over 500 videos in our library, and it's growing every month. Jon and I know that not everyone is interested in painting a cat, a river scene, or a box of flowers in a garden. But at every level, we have included subjects and painting techniques that can be of great value to you as an acrylic artist. We recommend that you challenge yourself once in a while and see where it goes. You never know where your journey will take you.
- The options we offer in the Senior Academy are the ability to paint something on your own that's not in the Beginner Acrylic Artist website or one of our YouTube videos. We call these “original” and do not expect new artists to create original artwork. But there may be a painting you saw somewhere, perhaps by a non-YouTuber but a living artist that you'd like to know if you could paint or maybe a family photo that has real meaning to you. Based on your skill level, some of these images may be beyond your ability right now. I recommend sending me the reference first with your ideas, and based on what you've already sent me in for Personal Art Coaching, I will be able to guide you if this would be something that would either be a good painting or that would work for you at this time.
- Remember, art is supposed to be fun, and you may not like everything you paint, but guess what, neither do I. It's not about being perfect, it's about stretching your abilities, and I think you will find no matter how many years you've been painting, there's never an end to learning more and getting better.
Love and Art hugs,
Ginger, Jon, and the Stuffy Staff.