I recently wrote a post ‘worst advice from art teachers’ so it is only right that I write about the best advice I’ve had as well. I’ve realised that a lot of the advice I give as a tutor is the same advice that came from my own art teachers. I’ve had many art teachers during my art education but some of the advice has been invaluable where as some of the advice was forgotten immediately. Here is the best bits of advice I’ve been given and have found to be true for me:
Drawing from Life
I was taught that observational drawing was the best way to really learn to ‘see’ and draw and paint better. I believe this to be true, working from images and photographs although have their place will always be two dimensional and lack some of the information that you can get from observation in life. Observational drawing doesn’t have to be overcomplicated it can be simple objects like vases, cups, fruit as long as you are drawing from life fairly regularly you will see your drawing improve.
Don’t Compare Yourself With Others
This one is really important for artistic confidence, much of good art is about finding your own style and skills. I don’t expect to be skilled at every media now and I don’t try but there was a time when I used to be very harsh on myself, comparing myself with others who I thought to be better than me. This type of competitiveness steals much of the joy from drawing and painting.
Use Different Viewpoints
My work was always a bit dull until I started considering different viewpoints like close up, far away, from above and below. Playing around with different viewpoints is one good way of learning about perspective and foreshortening but also it adds interest to artwork. One way to learn more about viewpoints is to use a viewfinder, a simple square cut out from a piece of card, you can move it around to find different viewpoints and create interesting compositions.
Starting From The Centre
When faced with a complicated drawing start in the centre and working out is a much more effective way of working than starting elsewhere. Establish a horizon line if it is a scene immediately, this ‘grounds’ the artwork and gives you a reference point.
Blocking In Colour
I used to work very slowly and carefully until an art teacher encouraged me to put blocks of colour down and building up a composition quickly, using a large brush. My work was created much faster and looked more energetic and had a fresher feel as a result. You can always add detail on top later but this can really help get a painting started quickly. Sometimes less is more and I’ve left the backgrounds quite painterly and unfinished.
What was the best bit of advice you were given from your art teachers? Share below…