What if I told you that changing your mindset is half the battle won? Here are my 6 steps for better drawing habits.
Improving your drawing skills is as much a physical challenge as it is a mental one.
Table of Contents
I hope you will find these tips practical and easy to implement in your art practice.
1. Doing more research will help you level up
- Broadening Horizons: Researching artists and subjects that pique your interest is akin to expanding your artistic vocabulary. It exposes you to a wide range of techniques, styles, and perspectives. This not only enriches your knowledge but also allows you to experiment and integrate diverse elements into your own work.
- Building a Reference Library: A well-curated reference library can be an invaluable resource. It provides a visual roadmap for tackling various subjects, from anatomy to landscapes to abstract concepts. These references serve as touchstones for accurate representation or as jumping-off points for creative reinterpretation.
- Staying Inspired: Artistic inspiration can be elusive at times. By consistently immersing yourself in the works of others, you’re more likely to encounter that spark of inspiration. It could come from an unexpected place or a subtle technique employed by an artist you admire.
- Learning through Appropriation: Art appropriation, when done ethically and with the intention to learn, is a crucial part of artistic development. It’s not about copying, but about understanding the choices made by the original artist and then applying that knowledge in your own unique way.
- Exploring Style and Mediums: Trying out different styles and mediums can be transformative. It allows you to discover what resonates with you, what challenges you, and what you find most satisfying. This exploration can lead to a signature style that is uniquely yours.
- Evolving Taste and Preferences: Artistic tastes are not static; they evolve over time. Regular research helps you stay attuned to shifts in the art world, be it emerging trends or rediscovering forgotten styles. This evolution keeps your work fresh and relevant.
- Avoiding Stagnation: No matter how skilled an artist becomes, there is always room for improvement. The moment you stop seeking new knowledge and experiences, you risk stagnation. Continuous research keeps your artistic journey dynamic and forward-moving.
- Connecting with a Community: Researching artists and their works can also lead to discovering communities of like-minded individuals. Engaging with these communities can provide valuable feedback, constructive criticism, and opportunities for collaboration.
- Cultivating Critical Thinking: Research encourages a critical approach to art. It prompts you to analyze why certain works resonate with you, what techniques are employed, and what emotions or ideas they convey. This level of critical thinking deepens your understanding of art.
- Fostering a Growth Mindset: Recognizing that there is always more to learn and explore fosters a growth mindset. It encourages you to approach each piece with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to push boundaries.
In essence, research is not a separate entity from the act of creating art; it is an integral part of the creative process. It feeds your imagination, refines your skills, and ultimately, helps you realize your artistic vision. So, keep seeking, keep exploring, and keep growing.
2. Being intentional will improve your drawing
Being intentional in your artistic endeavors is a crucial aspect of elevating your drawing skills. Here’s a deeper exploration of why intentionality matters:
- Clarity of Expression: When you approach a drawing with intent, you have a clear idea of what you want to convey. This clarity allows you to make deliberate choices regarding composition, subject matter, color palette, and style. As a result, your artwork becomes a more powerful means of communication.
- Focusing Your Efforts: Being intentional means you’re not just drawing for the sake of it, but with a specific purpose in mind. This focus directs your energy and time towards a defined goal, which ultimately leads to more purposeful and impactful creations.
- Personal Growth and Learning: Having a clear intent encourages you to explore new techniques, styles, and subjects. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and encourages continuous learning. This growth is instrumental in expanding your artistic horizons.
- Avoiding Overworking and Overthinking: Without a clear intent, artists can sometimes overwork their pieces or get bogged down in endless revisions. When you know what you want to achieve, you’re less likely to get caught in a cycle of overthinking and can make decisions more confidently.
- Enhancing Emotional Impact: Intentionality allows you to infuse your work with emotions and messages that resonate with you and your audience. Whether it’s a feeling of tranquility, excitement, or a thought-provoking concept, intentionality ensures that your art carries a meaningful emotional weight.
- Creating a Cohesive Body of Work: When each piece is created with a purpose, it contributes to a cohesive body of work that tells a story or explores a specific theme. This cohesiveness adds depth to your portfolio and provides a more profound experience for viewers.
- Setting Clear Goals: Intent guides goal-setting. Whether you’re aiming to master a particular technique, explore a specific theme, or evoke a certain emotion, having a clear intent helps you set achievable and measurable objectives.
- Improving Problem-Solving Skills: Intentionality requires you to make decisions about various elements of your artwork. These decisions enhance your problem-solving skills, as you figure out how to effectively convey your message or capture a particular mood.
- Building Confidence: When you approach your art with intention, you gain confidence in your abilities. You trust your instincts and judgment, which ultimately leads to a more assured and authentic artistic voice.
- Enhancing Audience Engagement: Art with intent often resonates more strongly with viewers. They can sense the thought and purpose behind the piece, which can lead to a deeper connection and a greater appreciation for your work.
Remember, intentionality doesn’t mean stifling spontaneity or creativity. It means working with a clear vision in mind while also allowing room for the creative process to unfold organically. By infusing your art with purpose and meaning, you not only improve the quality of your work but also establish a deeper connection with both yourself and your audience.
3. Avoid the trap of doing “just because you don’t know any better”.
Avoiding the trap of creating art without thoughtful consideration can significantly elevate your work. Let’s delve into this idea in more detail:
- Intentionality vs. Impulsiveness: Taking the time to plan and test your composition shifts your approach from impulsive creation to intentional craftsmanship. This means considering elements like composition, perspective, color choices, and lighting. It ensures that every stroke and detail serves a purpose.
- Elevating the Quality of Your Work: When you invest time in planning and testing, your drawings instantly gain a higher level of polish. They exhibit a level of sophistication and professionalism that can be lacking in rushed or haphazardly executed pieces.
- Distinguishing Between Research and Final Work: Research serves as a wellspring of inspiration and knowledge. However, it’s crucial not to mistake it for finished work. The research phase informs and guides your creative process, but it’s in the application and execution that your unique artistic voice truly emerges.
- Effective Categorization and Organization: Understanding how to categorize your work is vital for maintaining an organized and easily accessible portfolio. Properly labeling and filing your art allows you to track your progress, identify recurring themes, and evaluate your growth as an artist.
- A Resource for Reflection and Growth: Keeping a record of your work provides a tangible history of your artistic journey. It allows you to reflect on your struggles, breakthroughs, and evolution as an artist. It’s a powerful tool for self-assessment and a reminder of how far you’ve come.
- Learning from Less Successful Work: The pieces that don’t turn out as expected or fall short of your vision offer valuable learning opportunities. Analyzing what went wrong, what could be improved, and what lessons you can extract from these “less successful” works is essential for growth.
- Celebrating Successes and Milestones: On the flip side, revisiting successful pieces is equally important. It’s a chance to acknowledge your achievements, recognize your strengths, and identify the techniques or styles that resonate most with you and your audience.
- Fostering a Growth Mindset: Keeping a record of your artistic endeavors reinforces a growth mindset. It encourages you to view every piece, successful or not, as a step in your journey toward mastery. It reminds you that there’s always room for improvement and new discoveries.
- Encouraging Accountability: Documenting your work holds you accountable to your artistic goals. It’s a visual representation of your commitment and dedication to your craft. It also serves as a motivator, showing you the progress you’ve made and inspiring you to keep pushing forward.
- Bolstering Confidence and Identity: Looking back on your body of work can be a source of pride and confidence. It solidifies your identity as an artist, affirming the unique style, themes, and techniques that define your creative expression.
In essence, treating your art with the care it deserves—through deliberate planning, thoughtful organization, and a reflective mindset—transforms it from mere creations into a meaningful testament of your artistic journey. It’s a practice that not only enriches your work but also deepens your connection to your craft and your own growth as an artist.
It will help you allocate sufficient time for research, testing and final artwork. This is especially important if you are planning an exhibition or building up a portfolio.
4. Accepting to change when things go wrong.
Embracing change and learning from mistakes is a crucial aspect of artistic growth. Let’s explore this concept in more detail:
- Intuition over Impulse: Trusting your intuition is a key component of artistic decision-making. It allows you to tap into your deeper understanding of your work and the creative process. This differs from impulsive reactions, which can lead to rushed decisions that might not serve the piece well.
- Timely Adjustments: Recognizing when something isn’t working is a skill that sets accomplished artists apart. Making adjustments early in the process is often more effective than trying to correct major issues later on. It allows for a smoother and more coherent development of the artwork.
- Learning from Errors: Every mistake presents an opportunity to learn and grow. Understanding why something isn’t working can be as valuable as knowing what does. It leads to a deeper comprehension of your chosen medium, technique, and style.
- Permission to Iterate: There’s no rule stating that a piece of art must be perfect on the first attempt. Granting yourself the freedom to iterate allows for exploration and refinement. It opens the door to new possibilities and approaches that you might not have considered initially.
- Value in Series of Work: Keeping a series of attempts together provides a visual timeline of your progress. It allows you to trace the evolution of your ideas and techniques over time. Each piece, even those that don’t meet your initial expectations, contributes to your artistic development.
- Staying Open-Minded: Being receptive to change demonstrates a willingness to adapt and grow. It shows a commitment to the creative process rather than being fixated on a particular outcome. This openness often leads to unexpected and exciting artistic discoveries.
- Evolving Ideas and Techniques: Going back to earlier works, like your first journals, can be a wellspring of inspiration. It’s a way to revisit past ideas and techniques with a fresh perspective. You may find that concepts you explored in the past have new relevance or applications in your current work.
- Building Resilience and Confidence: Embracing change and learning from mistakes builds resilience. It teaches you not to be discouraged by setbacks, but to see them as opportunities for growth. This mindset fosters a stronger sense of confidence in your abilities as an artist.
- Avoiding Perfectionism: The pursuit of perfection can be stifling and counterproductive. Accepting change acknowledges that art is a process, and it’s okay for things to evolve and shift along the way. It frees you from the constraints of perfectionism, allowing for more authentic and dynamic creations.
- Creating a Body of Work with Depth: A willingness to change and adapt contributes to the depth and richness of your body of work. It shows a range of explorations, experiments, and evolutions, which collectively tell a more compelling story of your artistic journey.
In summary, embracing change and being receptive to your intuition fosters a dynamic and fruitful artistic practice. It leads to deeper self-discovery, more refined creations, and a more resilient approach to your craft. Remember, every adjustment and iteration is a step forward in your creative journey.
I regularly return to my first journals when I need to refresh some ideas or techniques.
5. Learning the foundations will improve your drawing.
Mastering the foundational principles of drawing is akin to building a solid structure for your artistic skills. Let’s delve deeper into why this is so crucial:
- Building a Strong Foundation: Just as a building requires a solid foundation to stand tall, so does your art. Learning the fundamental principles, such as proportion, perspective, and anatomy, provides the structural basis for creating realistic and dynamic drawings.
- Application of Principles: Knowing the basics is one thing; applying them correctly is another. Understanding concepts like composition, value, and form allows you to execute your artistic vision with precision and clarity.
- Visual Diaries and Journals: Keeping visual diaries or journals is a common practice among artists. These serve as repositories of knowledge, a record of insights, techniques, and personal progress. They’re invaluable references that are easily accessible and can be continually updated with new learnings.
- Importance of Basic Shapes: Recognizing the significance of basic shapes is akin to understanding the alphabet of drawing. These forms underlie more complex subjects, serving as a scaffolding that aids in accurate representation and proportion.
- Infusing Life and Depth: Applying foundational principles breathes life and depth into your drawings. It’s what transforms two-dimensional lines into three-dimensional, tangible forms. Without this knowledge, drawings can appear flat and lackluster.
- Distinction between Practice and Final Pieces: Understanding the distinction between practice, experimentation, and final projects is crucial. Each serves a specific purpose in your artistic development. Practice honing your skills, experimentation allows for creative exploration, and final projects showcase your refined abilities.
- Analogous to Athletic Training: Just as athletes invest time in training before competing, artists dedicate themselves to honing their craft. Learning and applying the foundations is your training ground, preparing you for more complex and ambitious artistic endeavors.
- Tailoring Learning to Your Level: If you’re new to art, it’s especially important to focus on grasping the fundamentals. This forms the bedrock upon which you can later build more advanced techniques and styles.
- Progressive Learning Curve: Starting with the basics allows for a natural progression in your learning. It sets a clear path for advancing your skills, ensuring that you don’t skip crucial steps in your artistic development.
- Continuous Growth and Refinement: Even experienced artists revisit and refine their understanding of foundational principles. It’s an ongoing process that ensures your skills remain sharp and your work continues to evolve.
In summary, learning the foundations of drawing provides you with the tools and knowledge needed to create compelling and impactful artwork. It’s the cornerstone of artistic development, allowing you to confidently tackle more complex subjects and styles. Remember, just as a building’s foundation supports its structure, your grasp of these principles supports your artistic journey.
You can then put what you have learned into practice when you have the inspiration and confidence to produce a piece of art.
6. Practicing what you are not good at will improve your drawing habits
Pushing beyond your comfort zone and tackling areas where you feel less proficient is a powerful strategy for artistic growth. Here’s an in-depth exploration of why this is so essential:
- Overcoming Plateaus: It’s common for artists to reach plateaus in their development. This is when progress seems to slow or stall. By actively practicing areas where you’re less skilled, you challenge yourself to break through these plateaus and continue advancing.
- Diversifying Your Skill Set: Mastering a variety of techniques, styles, formats, and mediums broadens your artistic repertoire. It enables you to approach different subjects and themes with confidence, ultimately making you a more versatile and adaptable artist.
- Fostering Creativity and Innovation: Stepping out of your comfort zone encourages creativity and innovation. It forces you to think differently, experiment with new approaches, and find novel solutions to artistic challenges.
- Building Problem-Solving Skills: Tackling unfamiliar territory prompts you to problem-solve in real time. It requires you to adapt, make decisions, and find solutions, which in turn strengthens your overall artistic problem-solving skills.
- Conquering Fear and Building Confidence: Venturing into unknown artistic territory can be intimidating, but with practice, you’ll likely find that your confidence grows. Overcoming initial hesitations and seeing improvement reinforces your belief in your abilities.
- Expanding Your Artistic Voice: Exploring new techniques and styles allows you to refine and develop your artistic voice. You may discover unique approaches that resonate with you, helping you carve out a distinct and recognizable style.
- Stimulating Growth and Learning: The learning process is most potent when you’re faced with new challenges. By practicing what you’re not yet proficient in, you engage your brain in active learning, which leads to more rapid and substantial growth.
- Avoiding Stagnation and Predictability: Staying within your comfort zone can lead to predictable and stagnant work. Pushing yourself to explore new territories keeps your art fresh, dynamic, and engaging, both for yourself and your audience.
- Developing Patience and Perseverance: Mastering new techniques or mediums often requires patience and persistence. It teaches you to embrace the learning curve, celebrate small victories, and persevere through challenges.
- Embracing a Growth Mindset: Practicing what you’re not good at embodies the essence of a growth mindset. It’s an acknowledgment that skills can be developed through dedication and hard work, rather than being fixed traits.
- Enhancing Artistic Empathy: Trying your hand at different styles or mediums can also enhance your understanding and appreciation for the work of other artists. It provides a deeper insight into the challenges and skills required for various artistic approaches.
In summary, stepping outside of your comfort zone and practicing areas where you’re less proficient is a catalyst for accelerated artistic growth. It expands your skills, fosters creativity, and ultimately contributes to the evolution of your artistic identity. Embracing these challenges is a testament to your dedication to your craft and your commitment to continuous improvement.
It is through a process of continuous experimentation that you will discover and use a wider variety of art forms to express yourself.
Let me try to put this into a real context.
Imagine you have a deep passion for creating illustrations for children’s books. It’s a field that demands a wide-ranging skill set. To truly captivate young readers, your illustrations must be not only visually engaging but also informative and educational.
Here’s where the significance of broadening your repertoire becomes evident. If you restrict yourself to drawing a limited set of subjects, you may find your illustrations becoming repetitive or lacking the necessary diversity to hold a child’s attention and effectively convey the intended message.
Consider the scenario where you’re tasked with illustrating a story set in a bustling farm. Your ability to draw a range of animals, each with its unique characteristics, is paramount. From the playful antics of goats to the graceful presence of horses, each requires a different approach.
Now, imagine you’ve primarily focused on drawing animals in your previous work. This is where actively dedicating time to draw new elements becomes invaluable. You set aside dedicated sessions to tackle subjects that may be less familiar—perhaps detailed depictions of farm equipment, the intricacies of various crops, or even the distinct features of a rustic farmhouse.
By deliberately choosing to expand your subject matter, you’re rapidly augmenting your knowledge bank. These new additions to your visual vocabulary serve as tools you can leverage in your compositions. When it’s time to craft an illustration for a children’s book set on a farm, you draw from this enriched repertoire. Your drawings now possess depth and authenticity, resonating with young readers in a way that goes beyond the superficial.
Moreover, this practice of diversifying your skills doesn’t merely serve immediate projects. It lays the foundation for a robust toolkit that you can draw upon throughout your career. The more varied and comprehensive your skill set, the more creatively versatile and adaptable you become as an illustrator.
In essence, this real-life context vividly illustrates how actively broadening your artistic horizons is essential for not only maintaining interest and engagement in your work but also for crafting illustrations that are captivating, informative, and educational for your audience. It’s an investment in your growth as an artist, one that pays dividends in the quality and impact of your creations.
It is not uncommon that you will face challenges during this process.
Facing challenges in the artistic process is entirely normal and part of the journey. Let’s delve into this concept further:
- Individual Strengths and Preferences: Every artist has their unique strengths and preferences. Some may find landscapes flow naturally from their hands, capturing the grandeur of nature with ease. Others may feel more at home depicting people, bringing out their emotions and expressions, while some may excel at rendering intricate objects or architecture.
- Embracing Diversity in Artistic Expression: Recognizing that different artists gravitate towards different subjects is essential in celebrating the diversity of artistic expression. It highlights the rich tapestry of perspectives and talents that make the art world so dynamic and captivating.
- Navigating Through Challenges: Encountering difficulties in certain areas of art is not a sign of inadequacy, but an opportunity for growth. It’s a chance to step out of one’s comfort zone, to learn, and to refine one’s skills. These challenges are often the crucible in which breakthroughs and new discoveries occur.
- Overcoming Frustration: It’s natural to feel frustrated when facing challenges in art. However, it’s important to remember that frustration is a sign of growth. It means you’re pushing boundaries and striving for higher levels of proficiency.
- Learning from Differences: Engaging with diverse artistic challenges—be it landscapes, portraits, or objects—provides a holistic learning experience. It equips you with a versatile skill set that allows you to approach various subjects with confidence and proficiency.
- Balancing Comfort and Exploration: While it’s crucial to venture into unfamiliar territory, it’s equally important to have areas where you feel comfortable and confident. These act as your artistic anchor, providing a sense of security and familiarity.
- Encouraging Collaboration and Learning from Peers: Embracing the differences in artistic strengths fosters a supportive community of artists. Learning from and collaborating with others who excel in areas you may find challenging can be an enriching experience. It’s an opportunity for mutual growth and skill exchange.
- Transcending Limitations: Challenging subjects can be like puzzles waiting to be solved. They encourage problem-solving, creativity, and resourcefulness. The process of transcending limitations often leads to unique and innovative artistic solutions.
- Embracing Personal Growth: As you confront and overcome challenges, you inevitably grow as an artist. You become more adept at translating complex or less familiar subjects onto the canvas. This evolution is a testament to your dedication and perseverance.
- Finding Joy in Mastery: Over time, you may find that subjects that once posed challenges become areas of mastery. This journey—from initial difficulty to eventual proficiency—brings a sense of accomplishment and joy that is deeply rewarding.
In conclusion, acknowledging and navigating through artistic challenges is an integral part of the creative process. It’s a journey that not only hones your skills but also fosters a deeper understanding of your unique artistic voice. Remember, every obstacle is an opportunity for growth, and every breakthrough is a testament to your dedication and passion for your craft.
Pinpoint areas where you feel less confident and prioritize working on them. Challenging yourself to draw subjects that you find less comfortable will stretch your artistic boundaries and accelerate your growth as an artist.
To wrap this up.
In the realm of art, there exists a beautifully diverse array of paths to skill enhancement. Guidelines serve as helpful starting points, but it’s crucial to remember that there’s no absolute right or wrong way to improve as an artist. Some creators forge remarkable careers through self-taught experimentation, eschewing formal education in favor of developing a distinctive artistic language. Conversely, many artists find value in establishing a foundational framework, using it as a springboard to explore their creativity within a more controlled environment.
If you’ve encountered challenges with a particular subject, it might be because you haven’t yet found the approach that resonates with you. This is perfectly normal, as artistic growth is a dynamic journey that unfolds uniquely for each individual. It’s an ongoing process of self-discovery, wherein you have the freedom to choose the methods and techniques that best suit your artistic vision. Remember, your artistic voice is as unique as your fingerprint, and the path you carve to improve your skills is a testament to your creativity, dedication, and passion for the craft. Embrace the journey, and allow your artistry to flourish in its own distinct way.
Don’t judge yourself on a 2-minute sketch the same way you might judge yourself on a painting you have spent 10 hours on.
Taking this pressure off you will instantly make the drawing part more enjoyable and easier to improve.
I am an art enthusiast and this is my journey to learning about the different facets of the art world.
Until next time.
David Lagesse. local artist in mauritius