So this has been on my mind a bit lately and I was just struck with the sudden urge to write about it. It's a bit long so I've broken it in to three parts, but if you're a beginning artist I would recommend reading through it, it might just get you aimed in the right direction. :)
This started a couple days ago when I was trolling facebook and someone had posted some artwork, and one of the comments was something along the lines of "Nice! What tutorial did you use for this?" which prompted an immediate and violent facedesk on my part. I hear things like this all the time and would like to help dispel some myths about learning art; so after 9 years of drawing and 3 years of hardcore education and study, here's what I've learned about how to get better at art:
WISDOM NUMBER ONE! Getting better demands consistent, hard work. That's it. That's the magical secret that great artists never seem to get to in their tutorials; it's that one pivotal thing that makes the difference between us and our heroes when we're using the same brushes and layer modes as they are. Having good tools helps, having education helps, having good peers and a mentor for advice helps, good tutorials help, good books help, good gnomon DVDs and classes and reading inspirational blogs helps... but all of that is multiplied by your own hard work and no matter how big the number is, if you multiply it by zero the results will be zero. The person who has all the best resources in the world and puts in half effort will pale in comparison to the person who doesn't always know what to do but does everything with complete dedication.
The reason I say this is because I think the #1 thing that holds beginning and intermediate artists back is that they spend all their time constantly searching for something that just isn't there. No one ever got wealthy by finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, and no one ever got good at art because they finally found the right brush, the right technique, the right program, the right video tutorial. There are a lot of great artists out there, a lot have gone to art school, a lot of them haven't, but the one thing that they ALL have in common is this: they have a shelf of filled-up sketchbooks, a closet full of painted-on canvases, and a hard drive full of psds. You know what else that have in common? Is that 80% of those sketchbooks, canvases and psds are really, really bad. But because they got all those terrible drawings out of their own brain and safely locked away between front and back covers, they are now free to create all the things they've been dreaming of all these years. Not that art is now easy for them or they never make bad drawings, but they've learned how to push through that and find the great drawing a few steps ahead.
Now comes the preachy part, which is that if you too want to get on the road to becoming a great artist, you (and me too!) will have to stop procrastinating, stop trying to find the perfect tutorial, and start filling your own sketchbooks, painting on your own canvases, and crowding up your own hard drive. Great artists are the artists who draw all the time; it's about that simple, so if this is a goal you want to achieve, start setting aside time every single day to study and draw; you'll be amazed at how much progress you can make in a month.
More in part two tomorrow. :)
And also some studies I did yesterday: