These 3 ways I’m about to show you are somewhat double-edged. They’re easy to Identify, but hard to execute. It takes discipline, diligence, and the capacity to keep yourself focused on the prize.
It can be challenging not to press our consciousness upon the arduous process of reaching for that prize.
It’s one of those “easier said than done” deals.
That being said, the artists that happen to continue improving, growing, shaping their styles, and upping their game are using one or more of these strategies.
You don’t have to use all 3. Take just one and master that method of improvement, you’ll see a phenomenal shift.
You must cultivate a love for process, for all the THOUGHT that goes into your work. If you’re feeling stuck, employing these 3 simple techniques will undoubtedly push you forward.
So what are they you ask? well, I’ll be glad to elucidate you on them in brief paragraphs that follow.
PLANNING: Planning is by far the easiest and most effective way to increase the quality of one’s end result. Planning takes time, but it will also save you time, sort of paradoxical, no?
when you’re noodling on a part of your image, it’s often because you didn’t plan ahead. Don’t expect to sit down and create a gorgeous piece in 1 or even 4 hours. You might get a decent result if it’s comfort zone material, but real masterpieces require careful diligence before you begin your final. Thumbnail, study, do ANYTHING but expect a highly-realized outcome without any planning prior. I assure you the odds are stacked against you.
Think of it this way:
Envision an architect making the snap decision “I’m going to erect an amazing building in one or two settings without any blueprints.”
I can assure you the result of such an act would be lackluster (and probably fall mercilessly upon on our imaginary architect.)
This is a dramatization of the scenario you’ll acquire from most of your works if you don’t think ahead.
In short: Plan, study, draw, redraw. Scrape what doesn’t work, and emphasize what does. It will take more than one setting– likely 7+. You’ll be returning to your work with fresh eyes, ready to tackle the problems anew, to take a page from John Singer Sargent’s book.
Work out as many of the drawing and perspective issues as you can. Ask questions relating to your image and answer them. What are you trying to convey? Noodling is visual gibberish. Our message (and thus our image) should be carefully crafted like the words of a sentence, or the perfect dish made by a careful chef.
VISUALIZATION: You (likely) have two eyes that are native to your skull. They’re amazing, you’re using them to read these very words right now. They see colors, examine forms, and translate the physical world into a relatively seamless picture for your brain to interpret bilaterally…But how many times have you have considered using your ‘third eye’?
I’m talking about the ability within us as human beings to form mental pictures as opposed to physical ones.
If I tell you to picture a nice tall glass of juice, you’re able to do so pretty quickly. It’s usually easier if you shut your eyes too. The problem is that this image feel vague and fleeting. It’s hard to take what’s intangible and maintain it for more than a flash– it’s as if your third eye only opens for a blink, and then shuts once more.
Practice using this eye until it can stay open for 5 seconds or longer. This way you can store reference in your mind, and even think in pictures as opposed to words. I don’t know if there’s anything more relevant to an artist, yet so woefully under-utilized by all. Take 5 minutes a day picturing and expanding your mind’s eye, it’s time well spent to improve the visual-spatial factors nestled within your brain.
WEAKNESS HUNTING: This one takes some forethought and at least an ounce of courage. Given that you’ve read this far, I’m certain that you’ve both of these assets.
This one is by far the simplest, but not the most comfortable. You must take note of your patterns, your weaknesses, and your tendencies.
Once you’ve listed them all out, then just begin to change the very things you’ve grown accustomed to. Maybe you draw your figures in very similar poses or their faces aren’t diverse…perhaps there’s one particular lighting scenario you find yourself over-using, or maybe you really don’t like to draw hands because they just never seem to come out right.
Well, I’ve got news for you– it’s time to take action in the other direction.
Draw new poses, faces, lighting scenarios, themes, anatomical studies, etc…until you become proficient in them. Whatever it takes to explore new routes when it comes to your art–do it. I promise you will thank yourself that you’ve become more visually capable. I don’t care if you draw the very best knights, it’s time to try painting a cowboy, or a jaguar, ANYTHING that you haven’t already been conditioned to draw.
It’s like a musician that can only play a few songs, and maybe improvise slightly on them.
When you grow comfortable, you grow complacent. The results of trying to overcome this comfort won’t be beautiful at first, but once you’ve grasped the new facet that you’d been neglecting or blind to before, it will only add to your EXP meter. Seriously, this is a great way to power level.
As a conclusion I urge you to plan, visualize, and tackle new subject matter in order to push beyond your limits and take quantum leaps in proficiency.
And when you’re proficient, you’re POWER PAINTER. Keep growing, keep learning, keep mastering.
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Happy painting, power painters.