Artistic improvement is… tricky to explain to people. You may find that there is a lot of advice out there, a lot of it is very dense, and some of it may appear contradictory. Ultimately, the vast majority of it is well meaning and true, but everyone learns differently, so what worked for one may not work for another.
That said, there are some absolutes.
You need to develop a confident command of the fundamentals of art and design. These are the bricks and mortar with which to build your world. They include such things as Anatomy, Perspective, Colour Theory, Value, Composition and so on. You’ll notice that I capitalised each of them, they’re important like that. Let the fundamentals be the pantheon of your art, treat them with respect and deference and you’ll find that your art will shine.
A lot of people will try to wriggle out of studying and practising the fundamentals, usually they just don’t enjoy it, but some are afraid of meeting their shortcomings, and some have such big egos that they refuse to admit that they need the practise. Most will eventually right these wrongs, but those who don’t will typically give up art sooner or later.
So how do you learn to handle them? There are many ways, and this is where people’s advice begins to differ. How you learn them is your choice, but learn them you must. Here are a few things I recommend and that have helped me. If you decide to do any of them, think critically about why they may benefit you. If you want further explanation on any of them, don’t be afraid to send another ask and I’ll explain in detail what I think of them.
– Draw from life (People, Still lifes, Buildings, Landscapes)
– Read on and put into practise advice from masters of their crafts, e.g Glenn Vilppu is a fantastic teacher of anatomy.
– Study composition, lighting and colour from films, draw or paint still frames taken from scenes. Movies are a great way to understand these as they are usually saturated with good composition and camera work (ask film buff friends for advice on which films are good to look at for these things if you don’t know. Watch with the sound off and take notes / draw frames and scenes. I would recommend most films by Kubrick myself)
– Finish paintings and drawings, you won’t know how far you can go until you try, and you won’t know what you need to work on improving until you encounter it.
– Put the hours in. I don’t know if you do art for a hobby, or want to make a career out of it, but if it is the latter, you need to treat art like it is your job. That means many hours a day, every day, every week, every month drawing and painting.
– Try new things, don’t be afraid to do something different. I started using 3D modelling last year, and it is as if someone replaced a dim lightbulb in my head with a bright new one. Be bold and confident, adopt and adapt new things into your workflow and take command of them.
– Start thinking about art in day to day life. Observe how the buildings in a street lead to points of perspective on the horizon, or how a bike on the street is designed. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve stared at AC units and marvelled at their designs.
– Get critique on your work from people. This means people from different backgrounds and perspectives, and not just artists! I’ve sent my work to engineers, astrophysicists, medical students and more for critique on my artwork and suggestions on how to improve it.
– Crush your ego and Chase away your fears. These are a nasty pair, Egotism and Fear, they usually go hand in hand and can cripple an artist. Don’t let either have an inch of your mind, learn to be humble and accept that your art isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, but don’t be afraid to show it to people, don’t be afraid to be happy with what you do.
– Most importantly, love what you do. If you love art and love making it, you will begin to love doing all the things I have spoken of already.
I’ll sign this off here, or else it will become too long. If you have more questions feel free to message me again though! Have fun!
(You can also see something else I wrote about art advice here on my friend’s art page:
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