( I was talking to an artist friend who was asking my advice on how to improve his painting. These habits came up so I decided to share them with other artists here. Each of these habits could be a post on it’s own I guess, but for now, here is the list with some explanation).
- Spend time in your studio thinking and planning.
Your studio should be a familiar place and a comfortable place to be in. You should not go there just to paint. You should be there to think and experiment and plan. Make it a home or a refuge and it will reward you
- Sketch two to three times a day.
You are not going to be a great painter before you can draw well, and the best way to get there is to practice. Sketching is your best medicine. Trust me on this. Sketch every moment you can.
- Doodle abstract compositions
Abstract compositions are pure gold. You should have a sketch book dedicated to those only. These are the keys to success and the seeds you use for all future paintings.
- Study your colors well. Understand everything about them.
It is not enough to have read about colors. As a matter of fact skip all the books. Get the colors out of the tubes and start mixing and spreading. You will soon realize that this is the only way to get intimate with your colors and understand how they are going to perform when you place them on the canvas or paper.
- Do chromatic quick paintings at least once a week
Just leave your colours behind and try to focus on value once a week.
- Do your color scales at least once a year
Color charts are a must to understand your colors well. This is different than (4). Here you are mixing to specific hue and value. In (4) you are free riffing.
- Paint something anything but paint every day.
Even if it is just a few strokes that don't amount to much. It is like sports. You have to keep the muscles working all the time.
- Switch mediums often.
You will quickly find out that you get a fresh feel for your medium when you change it. Don’t be a slave to your chosen medium. You are an artist not a one medium zealot. Changing mediums frees you. Trust me on this and try it.
- Don't be afraid to use material.
They won’t last forever and you can buy more. Use them up!
- Use a big mirror placed a few feet behind your easel to look at your work in progress in reverse. You will be able to quickly catch your mistakes