This post is part of a series of three. Other articles are:
Is the Art2Life CVP course worth it? An alumni spills the beans!
What is the CVP course?
CVP is an intensive, twelve-week art course run once a year by Nick Wilton and his team at Art2Life. It is full of information and extremely good value but at the same time can be overwhelming if you don’t go in with clear intentions and a plan to make it fit into your life. You can read more about the pros and cons of it in my previous post. Here are ten tips from my 2022 experience to help you navigate it to the best advantage:
Ten Tips to make CVP work for you:
- Be clear about why you are signing up and hold to that reason
There is an immense amount of information in CVP. Be clear before you go in get clear about what it is you want to learn and why you signed up. Concentrate on that. Of course, be open to unexpected learning – there will be plenty! But allow yourself to let past material you feel is not relevant to you without being resentful that you have paid for it. the class sizes are huge and they need to hold a space for everyone. If your own needs are met by the end of the course, it doesn’t matter if every single video or call is not bang on point for you.
- Say no so you can say yes
It is unlikely that you have spare time enough to take this course on. Decide what you will give up temporarily so that you can prioritise this.
- Determine in advance your path through the material
It is recognised that everyone who signs up has different time allowances. They will give you a suggested way to do CVP depending on the hours you have available each week. Some people are determined to keep up with the twelve weeks. Others accept that they will be away or too busy and work independently over a longer period of time or in smaller groups formed from fellow students on Facebook. The material is available for a whole year. You can decide if you want to limit your time on Facebook or if student interaction is a vital part of the class for you.
- Allow grace time for disasters and unexpected distractions
I planned to keep up. My mother-in-law died and my husband had a major accident in the twelve weeks and guess what – I didn’t keep up despite watching some of the classes in the hospital ward! But the support of the Facebook group was brilliant, and I caught up just a few weeks later with no detriment to my learning. Identify in your own diary some run-over time so if distractions (hopefully less dire than mine!) happen you can still complete the material.
- Build in rest and revive time
Although the class is twelve weeks it is spread over thirteen with a rest week in the middle. I’d say plan in rest time for yourself each week where you get away from the course. And then at the end also take a break before coming back to review the material and continue your work. We need these breaks to look after our bodies and minds.
- Expect the learning curve
Students come to CVP at a range of different stages in their art life. The course builds. I saw students dissatisfied at the start it was too simple and I admit I was a little concerned. But promise me it builds quickly and cumulatively, and the team are concerned both give full value to everyone and not to lose people by going too fast at the start. The free taster really doesn’t give a taster of how much is in CVP itself.
- Enjoy it – make friends!
The class size is huge but the use of Facebook and (assuming they repeat it in 2023) a voluntary class directory means you can identify people with similar interests, who live locally or who you just like the look of. Buddy up with a few and do the class together. I set up a group called The Open Room for CVP people; to co-work together on Zoom and if you join CVP this year you are welcome to contact me to ask me about joining that group.
- Trust the syllabus
At the start there is introductory work about your own interest and desires. Some students got a bit huffy about that feeling it was irrelevant or patronising. It wasn’t. It is a fundamental part of the philosophy of Art@Life and it filters into the practical work later. Embrace everything and trust that they know what they are doing! I write a bit about how it changed me as an artist in this post
- Budget for it
It is an expensive course. Worth it but it is a significant chunk of change and you will need materials. If you can’t afford it this year don’t get sucked into it for fear of missing out, budget over the year and come in next year without financial worry. But if you are concerned about spending on yourself – I was happy that it was a good investment. And I earned back some of the money from art I made as part of the class exercises ( though of course that’s not guaranteed). Note that there is a 30 day money back guarantee so you can try the whole first month hand back out if you don’t like it.
- Be prepared to extrapolate and apply the principles to your own work.
Nick and his team demonstrate the way that they paint. You may need to take the lessons and apply them to the way that you work and the type of art that you want to make in the future. Although Nick makes abstract shape based art and does the initial videos, his team member Susan Melreth has a big input in the coaching calls in terms of realistic painting. The members of the team have very different styles so if Nick’s way of painting is not for you don’t worry – It’s not a paint like Nick class!
Nick speaks very slowly so if you are concerned about time, put his videos on 1.5 speed and he still sounds like he’s speaking normally!
I will be doing the class again in 2023 as an Alumni. It has so much in it there is real merit on going though again at a different level applying for the work in different ways. Plus for me I have really benefitted from meeting the other artist and I’m looking forward to getting to know new people and revisiting with last year’s people. Nick likes Alumni in the class to encourage and support new members, something I’m really looking forward to being able to do it and we get a reduced rate to attend the second time.
Nick Wilton is as good a businessman as he is an artist. He has an alumni affiliate link programme. If you sign up to CVP through my link, you pay no extra but I get a reward to help fund my attendance this year.