About once a week, I’ll get a message from someone who wants advice on how to improve their drawing skills. And I’ll typically reply with the same answers. I figured that it would be worth it to list my top 5 tips for improving your art all in one place. My blurb is a bit long, so you’ve been forewarned.
- Learn from a teacher
There are thousands of resources online on “how to draw” or “how to become a great artist”. It’s wonderful that so many free resources are out there. But I’ve found that the best way to go about quickly improving is to find an actual teacher that can provide helpful critique and show you how to improve. For me, it was very difficult to self-critique when I was first getting back into art. I could see that something was a little “off” in my drawings, but I couldn’t identify exactly what it was. Because I was fortunate to have several great teachers, in 5 seconds they could tell me what was wrong AND how to correct it.
- Find the teacher that’s right for you
Continuing from the first point. Your optimal learning environment may be different from other people. I found that I learned the most from having a very strict teacher who had drawing exercises in a timed and fast-paced environment. I initially dreaded going to class because it was physically and mentally exhausting after 3 hours of constant drawing. But my progress in three months was far more than the years of art electives I took in high school. Many art classes will have a “drop week” where if you decide you don’t like the class, you can opt out before the deadline and get a full refund. I would definitely take advantage of this opportunity. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to quit a class because it’s not for you (especially if you’re paying money). Take a class only if you feel that the teacher is helpful and the class can provide you with useful information. As for where to find classes, I took all of my art classes from my local community college and their affiliated adult education centers. Just goes to show that you don’t a prestigious university to get quality education.
- Keep your head up
Learning any new skill will be met with varying degrees of frustration. This applies especially with art. When you are learning perspective, color mixing, or proportions, there will be times when you don’t pick up a skill as quickly as others. Persevering through the rough patches until they become easy for you is the key to mastering different aspects of art. Just know that everything can be learned with enough practice. Don’t give up!
- Seek opportunities to challenge yourself
A wonderful and daunting aspect of art is that there is so much to learn, that even in a lifetime you may never master everything. After you’ve learned the basics, identify specific goals that you would like to improve on. One example would be learning to draw hands. Seek out targeted exercises to practice your weak areas until you become comfortable with the specific topic. And then move on to learning something new. I believe one of the main limits that people set for themselves is not seeking enough challenges and they become complacent in doing a routine.
- Learn to self-critique
Self-critique is not looking at your piece and saying “that’s a bad drawing.” It involves identifying what could be improved if you were to give it a second go. Self-critique is also recognizing the strengths of your artwork and what made it great. The essence of self-critique is you doing what an art teacher would do – which is objectively judging every piece of art you make.
Are there any pieces of advice you would like to share? I would love to hear if you found any of my five tips useful.