I am a 58 yr old, self taught artist.
As a child I drew on, and with, anything: A stick in the dirt, a piece of charcoal from the fire on a wall (Mom wasn't to happy), crayons, etc..
I advanced in my skills, at age 5, when my Mom showed me how to draw a horse using circles and boxes. With the aid of owning horses I was able to study their physical structure on a daily basis. I never stopped drawing horses, of all kinds. Eventually I branched out toward other animals, and other subjects.
I went to ask any art galleries as I could to study other artists techniques: color blending, brush strokes, subject matter and placement, etc.. This is where I learned the most.
All my art is freehand, I never use light tables or overhead projectors...