In this article I will share my tips for beginner (and not only) artists that I consider very essential for growing your skill.
1. Try to figure out what is really yours
This is the first thing I want to share because I believe this is one of the most essential things you have to keep in mind as an artist.
From my own experience, I know that you barely become unique and successful in a style or technique that isn't truly yours. You can really admire a particular style and be absolutely fascinated by it, but it might be not exactly what YOU need and you can probably feel wrong trying to work in this kind of style.
For example, you can like my dark static mysterious paintings, but for you, it could be more natural to create bright dynamic colorful paintings or stylized illustrations. I admire many artists who work in various styles which significantly differ from mine, but it doesn’t mean that it should affect my personal way of expression. I perceive the world in my own way, this is how I see and feel. Your goal is to find this voice inside of you. It is all about 'what sparks joy for you'. Listen to yourself.
2. Сollect references
Create a folder with references and inspiring pictures. Collect pictures from different artists, photographers, or just random pictures of people, landscapes, or whatever you like. It will help you to figure out what you’re passionate about, which color palette you prefer, and It will stimulate the birth of your own ideas. Collect poses and facial expressions and take photos of yourself. If in the process of creating your artwork you will be wondering how to shade the collarbone in this particular angle you will have your own library to use as a reference.
3. Learn to draw with a relaxed hand and mind
Of course, the long term drawings and sketches are important, but I consider that the most essential thing for your skill growth is fast sketching training. If I would suggest to you the only one thing to learn how to draw, It would be this exercise. It is very useful no matter what your drawing level is. The main point of this exercise is learning to catch the shape and motion of an object for a short! time. I mean from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. There are many tools that you can use for it, but I personally use line-of-action web site.
Take a look at this site or any other similar ones. Usually, you can choose what you want to practice: body, face, hands, animals, and even landscapes. Then you choose for how long you want each picture to appear, I highly recommend setting the timer for 1-2 minutes. The major thing here is quantity over quality. The first tries might be very ugly, but it is okay. You need to overcome yourself and not be stuck on one bad picture for hours. Every 1-2 min start again a new sketch. Try to catch the shape, motion, and proportions of an object using simplified shapes and lines. Start from depicting the biggest volumes using oval-like shapes. Remember to unbend your hand and do not focus on one point, look at the whole drawing. Do this exercise for 15-30 min on daily basis. Again, and It is really important: the major thing here is the quantity that will naturally lead you up to the quality.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others
I know that this is the cheesiest cliché in the world, but It doesn't mean it's less important. Moreover, It is crucial not only for artists but also for all life aspects. The only that matters is your personal growth and progress. Compare yourself only with your older self, not with others. Your journey and the journey of other people are different, all people have different backgrounds and there's no sense in comparison. Create your own beautiful and unique story. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have or what you haven't done. Think of what you can do today, tomorrow and, over a week and keep your energy for that. Look straight ahead and don’t worry too much about the past. It doesn't matter and you can't change it. But you can change the present and future and this is the only thing you should focus on.
5. Don’t compare your work rhythm to other people's rhythm
All people work in different rhythms, this is an individual trait of every human. I’m sure that some of you used to feel uncomfortable looking at how 'productive' everyone is. However, It's not always true since in the era of social media you get lost in a flow of posts where people share their success. After reading the book “How artists work” by Mason Currey I realized, that I’m not the only one artist who struggles with being too slow or not creating 24/7. There are many great and famous artists, writers, and musicians who had really different schedules, work rhythms, and struggles. Some people may need more time to create something and it’s okay. Usually, I take the details very seriously, so it takes more time, for example, to create a painting. But this is my style and my personal trait in general. This is how I do things: meticulously and slow, but qualitatively and detailed.
6. Learn basics
Invest your time to study basic but extremely important things like perspective and anatomy basics. The internet is full of this information If you know how to google. I often see people have highly admirable skill in painting technique and shading, but the lack of basic knowledge doesn't allow to fulfill the full potential of the piece. And this sacred knowledge of basics can be improved just by sneak peaking into an anatomy handbook, in the mirror, or by taking a photo of yourself. Researching your weak sides before starting a new piece is a good idea. And don’t forget about the 3rd tip in this article, it will help you too. Knowing the basics is essential not only for realism but also (and especially!) if you work in stylization. You can't break the rules before you learn them - you can’t qualitatively stylize things that you don’t understand.
7. Observe things around you.
Try to notice little things, faces, bones, muscles, anatomy, to understand how shadows work. It will help you to understand things better and to make new useful discoveries. I usually become very attentive to things that I paint in a particular period. For example, If I paint a forest my mind automatically pays a lot of attention to the trees wherever I go. And actually it is a nice side of being an artist: to look at usual things from another perspective. To notice small, but very important things that no one does. So the conclusion is: train your visual memory by observing things around you.
It were my tips for artists that helped me a lot in growing my artistic skill and I really hope that you will find them useful too! If you know some more tips that helped you to grow your skill, please share your knowledge with me and other people in the comment section!