It’s a new year and a time of new resolutions, this applies to art too. There are lots of sloppy habits that we can get into when it comes to drawing and painting or any creative practice. Here are some ‘bad habits’ I see often that I thought I would share with you so you can avoid them.
Using Only One Source
Taking all your learning from one book, one website or one tutor is generally not a good idea. Every one of these sources will have a different perspective on things so it is healthy to expose yourself to a few ideas and methods before deciding what is best for you. All teachers and tutors will have their specialisms and you can learn different things from different tutors and teachers just like you can from different books. There is no one way of doing things in art so it is important to expose yourself to a few sources. I found as a student I was lucky enough to be exposed to a variety of art teachers and tutors in my art education which looking back was important. There is a tendency to produce work like the one tutor/teacher/author of the book if you only use one source of learning and development as an artist.
Not Drawing from Life
Many learners have been guilty of this and get into a habit of only copying things from secondary sources (photographs and images). It is fine to use secondary sources but ideally you should still take some time to draw from life (real objects and things) to get the observational drawing practice. Why is it better? Because using secondary sources are 2-dimensional and don’t give us as much information as real life objects where we can study shifting light and form in a true 3-dimensional sense.
Stopping Learning New Things
Sometimes as learners we can reach a stage where we stop learning. Think back to when you first discovered art and couldn’t wait to try everything, you were learning all the time. Then we can reach a plateau where we do the same things but don’t really learn anything new. That applies to everyone, but particularly the more established learners or artists. Sometimes we join an art club where there is no real new influences and do the same things over and over again. There is nothing wrong with working in a style that you like and have however things can become stale. I think we sense when this might be happening. Then it is important to try a workshop, visit a gallery or go out and sketch just for fun and become inspired once more.
Not Looking at Art In General
Looking at art by going to art galleries, books, looking at forums online are great ways of studying other artists. Sometimes we can stop doing this, I call it ‘feeding the artistic soul’ and it is important to regularly do this. There is so much to see and learn that it is important to keep looking by going to galleries, books and online websites.
After a bit of time drawing and painting some people can become frustrated, maybe they think they will never meet a certain standard they have aspired to or just got bored of it all. This feeling can creep in and I’ve seen it in many improvers groups where perhaps the learners have progressed to another level and are now working with more advanced learners and become disheartened. It is true that you might not ever have the talent or skills of another artist or learner but you can still create your own unique artwork.
Also see When I get Stuck What Can I Do? for more advice.