Guarantee Your Improvement

Guarantee Your Improvement

with 3 Comments

Painting is complicated, right? So many concepts to think about at one time. Off the top of my head: composition, perspective, proportion, shape, line quality, contrast, palette colors, color temperature, color saturation, complementary colors, tinting strength, underpainting, brush size, paint viscosity, light source, canvas type, surface texture, edge quality, brush handling, painting wet-into-wet, glazing, etc.

So, how do we manage all of that while developing a strong foundation as painters? Is there a simple way to guarantee our improvement? Yes!

Regularly practice copying what you see.

Very few of us can excel without regular practice. Yes there are a few geniuses out there who just have the natural ability. But the rest of us require regular practice to develop our skills. Nothing to be ashamed of here, we just have to put in the work. Once you’ve reached 1,000 paintings you’re well on your way. All of that repetition sorts out much of what’s in the above list, by the way.

Improving our ability to copy means working through a process to train our eyes to see more accurately. I think the two main areas where this is needed are:

1. Drawing Accuracy
Faithfully measuring greatly improves our drawing accuracy over time. Click here to read my previous post about measuring.

2. Color Recognition
Our color recognition can be developed by regularly painting from life. (Still life, plein air landscape, portrait, figure.) Do your best to take the time necessary to mix your colors to match what you see. Don’t be lazy and say “oh, it’s close enough.”

As you practice the above two areas, work hard to identify problems you encounter. Ask yourself: “Why doesn’t my drawing match what I see?” (Wrong perspective, incorrect distance between shapes, faulty angles, etc.) “What is different about the color I’ve mixed compared to the color in my subject?” (Too light or dark, too intense, too dull, too warm or cool, etc.) Then take time to correct those mistakes.

I think no matter what style of painting you’re wanting to eventually do, this simple approach can guide you. Once you can confidently copy what you see, you’ll have a strong foundation from which to take your paintings in any direction.

Happy practicing!

3 Responses

  1. Harlan Kerr
    | Reply

    I have participated in formal education to become a painter. I have particpated in a very few local worshops.

  2. Doug Singletary
    | Reply

    I’m going forward on faith that with more practice I may one day attain a level of proficiency that will yield images that capture what I’ve seen and felt with others.

    1,000? That’s a long ways to go!

    But I’m sensing that lots of work with lots of failed attempts will pay off in the end. Picked up gear and materials without a lot of thought about 2 years ago and just went outside and randomly stumbled forward for about 6 months.Then I hit the web and started to study and adjusting, but I still hadn’t caught on that “doing, failing, doing, failing, doing” is essential and will eventually lead to small successes that start to happen a bit more frequently.

    Only about 55 panels since that staggering beginning, but starting to pick up some momentum now. Only about 30 panels in the first 18 months, 25 panels in the last 6 months. Still so, so much further to go but, at least for the moment.

    Onward to 1,000!

  3. Dan Schultz
    | Reply

    Onward, Doug! I’ve enjoyed seeing you working at it so diligently.

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