It occurred to me as I was teaching a workshop this weekend that new artists often take on the task of painting a “real” painting without doing any practice first. In fact, many don’t practice at all, but regard every painting as a formal painting that should turn out ready to be framed. It simply doesn’t work that way! In order to build a consistent quality of work, you need to practice more and not put pressure on yourself to create a masterpiece every time you pick up a brush. That should not even be your intent when you are practicing, you should instead be focused on learning and being aware of your strengths and the areas you need to address.
For example, in the study above, I was focused on:
– creating a sense of volume and form through the use of values
– comparing object placement and size to get the correct proportional relationships
– allowing the paint to form lost and found edges based on the way the shadows and light interplay with foreground and background
– paint flow and control without sacrificing fluidity
Did I get a masterpiece out of doing this? NO! of course not, but I did get a study that has an interesting composition, properly drawn forms, correct value relationships and a pleasant color harmony–so, all in all, a decent painting. Again, not a masterpiece, but a good painting. The point is, the more frequently you paint in practice mode, the more consistent you become in building the skills that will make even your practice paintings good, viable studies that show that you have a firm understanding of the principles of painting. From there, you can continuously build and develop your skills and as you do, many of these principles will become second nature. That is when you will truly start to see improvement in your confidence and what will allow you to become more creative.
Every painting you paint will never be a masterpiece, but the more practice you do, the more consistent and confident you will become. That will allow you to produce your best work and get the most satisfaction from the process of creating.