Monday, January 6, 2014

I practice my way.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Right, I get that. We all get that. But how do you practice? What do you mean how? You just do it. No I understand but how? You just pick up your pencil and you draw? So do I draw tons of trees? Will drawing tons of trees make me better at drawing faces, and monkeys, and buildings? Why can no one ever answer this question? Eventually I figured it out. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to figure out as an artist is how to practice. Professors in school, tutorials, instruction books, forums, friends, everyone and everything related to getting better at art will tell you to practice. Ok, well just doing the work itself isn’t enough. It’s not, at least not for me. For me that there has to be a purpose and if I’m going to practice I have to figure out what it is I’m going to practice. I can pick up a pencil and just get to work but what am I working on? What is my plan? What is my purpose? Do I know where my weaknesses are? I listened to all of my professors when they said to practice but it didn’t take long for me to get frustrated because I didn’t know what to practice. I don’t know if that was a fault of my professors because they didn’t give me the answer I was looking for or if I wasn’t asking the right questions because I didn’t know the right questions. Either way I knew I was missing something. I knew I needed to practice because I knew my skill was lacking but what did I need to practice on? What was I missing? I’ve asked this question of many people with different artistic backgrounds and no one has ever given me the answer that made it make sense. I am not kidding when I say I am constantly reading, studying, and drooling over artists that inspire me. Ok maybe not drooling but close. I don’t ever want to copy the brilliance of another artist but I do want to always strive to produce their quality of work and beyond if possible. The question I have to ask myself all the time is what is it about their work that always brings me back? Is it the colors, the line work, the environment, or is it something else altogether? That required some study. Once I figured out what it was about their work that intrigued me, the more prepared I was to start practicing. In my research one of the most important things I found out was practicing is different for everyone. My strengths and weaknesses are going to be different from the next person so my steps to improving will have to be different as well. My weaknesses, I soon realized were I don’t know the fundamentals of all things art related. That meant I had to essentially start from the beginning. I had to learn the things that other artists probably already know which is fine but that meant I might have a tougher start. This is something I had to accept. I was and still am behind but that doesn’t mean I can’t catch up. We all learn differently so it stands to reason that we all might have to practice differently. They don’t teach you that in art school. If they did I missed it. My approach now is to find the gap between my work and the artists that I admire and work on bridging that gap. If it’s a beautiful face and I know I can’t draw an awesome face then faces are what I’ll work on. I’ll practice drawing faces. I’ll draw face after face after face until I get more comfortable with faces. Then I’ll draw more faces. Eventually I’ll get to a point where I’m beginning to be content with my work. That will require practice. Knowing what to practice will be what sets me apart from the artist I was yesterday and the artist I’m hungry to be tomorrow. Now I get it. I really do need to practice...but I need to do it my way.

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