So what does this offer that I couldn't get from wetcanvas and other free reference sites online? Thanks!
That is a very good question Justin, and one that comes up a lot.
Here are the three issues:
Problem #1. You are right. Actually there is a lot of very good information on free sites. But.... there is also quite a lot of information written by non-professionals that could easily get you into poor working practices from the beginning. These poor working habits are likely to severely hamper your development in future years if you are at all serious about your art.
It's a bit like learning how to fly a plane from an airplane enthusiast. You will have gotten 90% of the things right, but there will be just a few things you got wrong that made the plane fall out of the sky.
Problem #2. To dig out the knowledge on how to paint that took me from a raw amateur to a professional artist took me personally over ten years. So the question is if you want to become a good painter, how much do you value ten years of your time? And that is if you eventually figure out a solution to problem #1.
Problem #3. It costs a lot to dig out the best knowledge. I was serious about trying to become a good artist, so in addition to researching things in books and online, I spent around $20,000 on workshops over those ten years studying with the very best master painters I could find. I traveled all over the world to find them. Some of the most valuable lessons I learnt weren't actually written in any of the how to books I had read. And I had read a lot, about 100 book.
Now $20,000 is a lot of money you might say? But let me tell you a story. I started learning seriously around 1998-2000. At that time I was a raw amateur. In 2007 I took first prize in the annual Telluride Plein Air competition judged by the artist's themselves. Amongst the artists participating in the week-long competition were many of the top plein air painters in the United States. Almost all of them had far more years of painting experience than I had.
The winning 11x14" painting that these top artists chose, auctioned off after the competition for nearly five thousand dollars. That very weekend I sold two paintings at the event for ten thousand dollars each. This was more than my entire investment in my own art education over ten years - in just one week!. Over the following years I made that investment back time and time again.
The bottom line is: the more you invest, the higher the payoff.
Here is another story of a recent student of the Virtual Art Academy: Thomas
picked up his first paintbrush in 2012. He had never painted in oils before ever. When he started to learn he never had a live painting instructor. He only learned by going online, and only by systematically going through the complete Virtual Art AcademyŽ Apprentice Program. In less than four years from first picking up a paint brush, he had his first highly successful exhibition in Germany opened by a highly respected painter in the area, with 17 paintings sold and an article written up about him in the local newspaper. He is now quite a successful painter with a large following on FaceBook (larger than me actually!)
So Thomas went from raw beginner (he was actually a professor in physics) to a professional artist in less than half the time it took me. He didn't have to go through the painful process of researching all the knowledge like I did. The work was already done for him. He's a very good artist by the way. Great color and brushwork.
And as for the Virtual Art Academy specifically, it is better if you hear from someone else rather than me. These people have actually been through the experience:
P.S. None of these reviews are on my website so I have no control over what they wrote.