5/4/2015 UPDATE: Added preface at the beginning and Inspiration at the end! added some thoughts on some other things I wanted to share.
Alright, so this is a comment and question I've been receiving a lot from people!
How did you improve so fast?
Firstly, I want to say I do not think of myself as a professional artist, teacher or someone who "knows the secret to becoming a master artist". These are just things that I have picked up over the years, and noticed so I thought I might as well share my experience with improvement in effort to help others find their own paths of improvement and learning as artists. There are still many things I have to learn, and wish to improve about my own art! The path of an artist is never ending, in my opinion!
I consider the beginning of my journey when I withdrew from college. I had decided to take a year off from school, to explore myself more as a person, gain confidence and rethink my path that I wanted to take in school. Of course, not being in school gave me a lot of spare time, which I ended up filling up with art. I drew when I was bored, drew when I was happy, angry and sad. It usually was just a way to do something I enjoyed. TDLR; I drew. A lot.
So here is a short (i tried to keep it brief...) list of some of the virtues, tips and things to consider if you want to improve your art;
TABLE OF CONTENTS;
Preface: drawing everyday
- Expanding your art scope
- Practice, Practice, Practice,
- Challenge and push yourself
Preface: DRAWING EVERYDAY...
I went back over this journal, and I realized that I wasn't emphasizing something that was supremely important in addition to the other things that I have said here. I figured that I would add this a preface because I think that before following any of the steps below, you must be willing to commit to this one thing: Drawing everyday. If you aren't willing to dedicate time everyday, or even a certain amount of time a week, don't expect to improve. The basics for developing and maintaining a skill reside in the ability to continuously practice it. yes, that means regularly. Ideally, everyday. Its a habit that you have to develop, and soon once you practice it enough, it becomes something second nature. Drawing everyday becomes a natural habit, like brushing your teeth before bed, or making your bed in the morning. And of course, the more you do it, the more you learn, and the faster you become.
In all honesty, I draw a lot everyday (mostly because right now I'm not in school, and the only obligation I have/had was my part time job which was 15-25 hours a week), so drawing everyday became a way for me to fill my time. Minimum, I'll draw 2 hours a day, where somedays I can draw up to 7 hours in a day. My improvement wasn't over night, it took me hours of practice and dedication. EVERYDAY!
If your goal is to become a professional in the art industry, don't expect to get there without putting in the time and dedication. There is no way to become an amazing talented artist over night.
I was once told to become a master of something, you must practice it for 10,000 hours. I believe it, to become a master of something, you really have to be willing to put in the time to study it and understand it.
EXPAND YOUR ART SCOPE
What I mean by this is expose yourself to AS MUCH different art as you can. Look through different tags on tumblr, explore other art sites and exhibits at your school, local library, museums and so on. Personally I love going to art museums and looking at all the art pieces that have stood the test of time and proved to be masterpieces years, and decades after they were created. Not only that, but reading the descriptions of the pieces, looking at pieces that have taken months, even YEARS to create. The absolute patience and dedication of artists never ceases to amaze me! Take in everything you can, and learn to appreciate it in all its forms and mediums, you will learn A LOT from understand all the different styles and mediums. You may not believe it, but there are things you can learn from any and all artists!
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
haha, I'm sure you've heard THIS one before! But honestly, it is probably the best and most accurate advice that I can give you. It may be hard to motivate to get it done, but if you don't practice and do your best, how can you honestly expect to get any better? Improving your art does not magically happen over night, it does not happen if you wish it hard enough, nor does it happen if you just look at art, and theres no "cheating" like on any test. The only way to get better is by drawing as much as you can! Now understandably, you are in school, or at a job so the time dedicated to drawing is limited, but that's ok! Even if you can put 30m-1hr aside a day to draw or doodle, you will improve! It may take longer, but SCHOOL COMES FIRST! ahha, you have weekends and vacations to draw too! Make the most of your time, and understand that improving takes time, so you have to be patient.
Here are some exercises that have helped me in the past;
- GESTURE DRAWING; yes, I know it may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it HELPS A LOT. TRUST ME!! Even if you just do this 15-30 minutes a day YOU WILL SEE A DIFFERENCE!! I guarantee it!! Here are some awesome resources to get you started!
Gesture drawing resource!
<- this site has a whole bunch of different settings and options to choose from to draw gestures! School settings, or just regular settings. I love to use this one for practicing!
- MIMICKING STYLE; Now hear me out before you all start to jump up and accuse me of HOW AWFUL IT IS TO COPY AND TRACE! I do not condone tracing or "style stealing"! Artists work hard on developing a style, characters, etc, please respect other artists! However, I do believe there is a lot to learn by mimicking a style on your own time. The way that most of us probably learned how to draw was by copying someone else's drawings. Whether it be from an anime that we first watched when we were young, a cartoon, or illustrated books, we all started it from somewhere. That's probably what inspired you to start drawing, right? Unfortunately, there is a lot of negative connotation and hounding of people who copy, that we are too afraid to do it in any way of the word and miss out on a lot of great learning!
Here's what I mean: By drawing in another artists style, or even trying to recreate one of their pieces, we learn a lot about the techniques that they use, and even the perspective that they draw in! It could be a way that they use a brush tool differently, or how they proportion their anatomy, or any number of things! When we replicate these styles, we learn a lot more about ourselves as artists, and our preferences.
NO I am not saying to copy an artists style completely and claim it as your own, but I am saying that you can learn different techniques from artists in their style and implement it into your own style. Artists influence each other ALL the time, and thus we are constantly teaching each other new techniques and ways to understand art! There are ways to be influenced by an artist, and not 'steal' their style.
The Copy-learning cycle
Look back to when you learnt to write your name.
For most of us, we first learnt this by someone writing it for us, and we then copied it. When you wrote your first blog post, I bet you copied a favourite post from another site. That doesn’t mean you cut and paste. Instead, you learnt the basics by copying the techniques, and then over time you changed them; and in the process, found out what happens when you do.
The difference between those who actually make it (in anything, not just blogging) and those who fail is the willingness to take the hard road. The easy road will eventually end because you’ll run out of things to copy-by-rote, which will either force you to learn, or force you to give up.
If you don’t make the effort to learn from your copying and starting to make your own interpretations, then you will undoubtedly fail. But once you’ve learnt the things necessary to start making your own blog a success, you must then start the creation process.
Combine, connect, modify
People learn from their own drive to improve, and their own expectation of themselves. To clarify, it’s not actually through the cloning or copying that you learn, it’s how you rework it so that the expression becomes your own, how it synthesizes your own ideas with the source.
That’s technically how you learn from copying.
Here’s where it gets most fascinating. From copying, you then begin to understand, and from understanding you then start to play and transform. You’ll connect and combine ideas, thoughts, styles, contents; transforming and fusing them into something new. Finally, to make sure you understand everything, you’ll try modifying. If the result of your modification meets with your expectations, then you have finally learned something.
So the process of learning and creating is: copy, understand, connect, combine and rework, then create your own reinterpretation (of what was once just an exercise in copying).
These two excerpts were taken from the article written by Di Mace! I highly recommend reading the full article here
- DRAWING FROM OBSERVATION: You can learn SO MUCH from drawing from life. Understanding shadow and light, proportion and balance, even composition and structure! From drawing a landscape that is local to you, drawing the stuff on your desk and even YOURSELF. draw EVERYTHING. You can get no better reference than the reality that surrounds you!
- OBSERVE: This is different from the bullet above. What I mean by observe, is watch art. Observe art that inspires you, watch youtube videos of other artists speed painting, live painting, and drawing! There are a lot of awesome resources on youtube that are only a few clicks away!
- Gagnon studio's painting videos; an awesome array of live painting sessions that have a bunch of really cool techniques!
- Syrca's speed sketches. These are WICKED cool to watch, definitely watch more of his stuff!
- The last bath speedpaint This is a really cool speedpaint done in photoshop by Marc Brunet. Definitely worth a watch!
This is, by far, the MOST important thing I have learned as an artist. Improving does not by any means happen overnight, and you should not expect it to. You may draw something a hundred times over and not be satisfied, but that is good believe it or not. Like many have said before me, you learn from your mistakes. Take pride in your successes, but never forget what you gain from your failures! Many are brought down by that, but it is the best thing you can do as an artist.
One of the things I see most frequently among my friends and other artists, is that they will leave something they know is inadequate in a drawing, and won't fix it (for whatever their reason). But if you think you can do better, don't leave it there, prove to yourself that you can do better and keep trying until you feel like you can conquer the tough part of your drawing. Because 1) you'll learn from it and 2) you'll feel a lot better knowing that you worked your ass off doing your best, than just leaving it as a poor effort piece of work.
Over the past years I messed up many times, and became frustrated with myself a lot, especially due to art block. The feeling where you think you are never going to get anywhere, but I promise that, that feeling goes away and you'll be glad that you pushed through it.
I cannot stress the importance of patience as an artist! Granted patience is something that not all of us have, but do your best to be patient! Understand that things take time, and good comes to those who are patient.
I know this is a lot of artists least favorite thing in the art world. Receiving negative criticism on something we worked hard on flat out sucks. Trust me, I know! I have definitely been there, haha. However, sometimes we just gotta bite the bullet and take it to do better. On almost all my pieces I ask my sisters opinion on them, and a LOT of the time she is able to pick up mistakes that I can't see while I'm drawing.
This piece of advice I think varies per person, some people take it well, others not so well. Find the method that suits you best! Asking for feedback on Deviantart, from friends or family, or even forums elsewhere! There are lots of places to seek feedback, but it is the risk of what we are going to hear that prevents us. This is by far the scariest part of getting a critique.
All I can tell you is that 1) dont take it personally. They are telling you what they are telling you to help you improve (though some may word it more gracefully than others. And know that there are jerks out there, but you can't let them get the better of you!) 2) Find someone you trust, this is probably the best person to get critiques from. Even if they may not be an expert at art, sometimes all you need is a pair of eyes other than your own.
Push and Challenge yourself.
Go outside your comfort zone when you draw, attempt things that you perhaps won't succeed at the first time, but continue trying!! This is VERY IMPORTANT!! If you always stay within your comfort zone, you can't expect yourself to improve and get better! For example, the beginning of this year, I had NO idea how to draw men. Literally zero, they all looked like girls with flatter chests than usual. It was painful. BUT! I did not give up! Though I am definitely still learning, I have pushed myself to keep drawing them until it became more natural to me.
Here's an article written by an art professor from the Rhode Island College of Design about pushing out of your comfort zone here
. And Pushing yourself to the next level.
While mastering the technical skills of drawing is important, it's also super important to follow what inspires you. The most beautiful thing about art is the freedom of expression you are given. Draw what YOU
love. Not what you think will sell, or what you think you SHOULD be drawing. Art is all about personal interpretation, that is what makes it so beautiful. Seeing how each person interprets an idea, design, color, basically anything. Stay true to what you love, be honest with your art.
I want to end this journal by saying that ANYONE can be a great artist. All you need is the drive, patience and will to improve! I certainly wasn't born an artist, I have worked to improve and intend to keep working hard and learning to keep expanding my understanding as an artist. There is so much out there for you to learn, and I urge you to take these resources and expand outside of them and learn more! Keep practicing what you learn and continue to try new things to extend yourself!
Keep working hard and doing your best!!
Ill post an additional journal later with some of my favorite resources.
Please feel free to share this journal!! I hope that some may be able to find it useful