How to Become a Better Artist
This article is designed to help you become a better artist in terms of drawing, painting, or sculpting, things to look correct, real, and accurate, at least to some extent. If you are the type of artist who wants to spatter paint on a rock and call it art, or stick tampons in a jar and call it art, this information is not for you. However, if you want to paint an apple and have people recognize it as such, then read on.
A person who is naturally observant will have more success than one who is not. Some people naturally have keen powers of observation while this is something others have to work on. There are many “hide and seek” type games a person can play, including things they can do on their own, such as puzzles and “Where is Waldo” type of books.
Spend time just looking at things. Shut your eyes, imagine that thing. Open your eyes, without looking at the object, draw it. This is also a bit of a memory test, but depending on what object is used, is very valuable for improving your powers of observation, which ultimately help you to be a better artist.
An observant artist notes shape, colors, and shadows. When you are observant you will also be quick to note when your art is “going wrong”. Your ability to study details, will allow you to see mistakes and correct them better.
Many inspiring artists give up too soon. Nobody starts off drawing perfect pictures, all artists had to practice, some started practicing when quite young so may appear to be more talented than another of the same age.
You may be born with excellent powers of observation, but you must learn how to transfer those to paper, or the media of your choice. Practicing is the best way to turn your powers of observation into art.
You can use photos, actual objects, or your memory, to draw from, however you should never copy somebody else's art. When you copy somebody else's art not only are you “cheating” but you are not creating your own style, you are borrowing theirs, which will not help you to grow as an artist.
Make it Interesting
New artists tend to focus too much on making things “perfect”. When it comes to art images that are not perfect are more captivating than those that are. For example, a painting of a new house with perfect yard is going to be rather boring, when compared to a painting of an old house, with falling down fence, peeling paint, and so forth. The house in the second painting clearly tells a story, and although not perfect, it makes more of an artistic statement.
Consider the angle that your subject is positioned at (this does not apply to 3 dimensional art). For example a face at ¾ angle is far more interesting than one that is a perfect profile, this applies to animal faces too. Straight on images of a face can be interesting and can be used to make a “contact” statement with the viewer.
Above we see how boring the basic image on the left is compared to the one on the right.
Know when to Quit
It is easy to overwork a piece, particularly watercolor. It is equally as easy to quit too soon, getting lazy about correcting mistakes, or adding more detail. It is important to know when to quit. It is good to get people's opinions (see below) to see if they think your art is done or not, but ultimately you should be able to decide this for yourself.
The best way to grow as an artist is to listen to honest opinions of your work. Everyone likes being told their art is great, but you really do not learn by that. When you are criticized you need to listen to the negative as well as the positive. Weight the comments, and consider their validity. If a person suggests a way to improve your art it might be a valid point, do not become defensive. You also need to accept that whatever art you do will not appeal to everyone, but certain comments about technique can be helpful to you in improving your artistic ability.
To be a better artist, take criticism, ask for it, and learn from it!