I once heard of a friend told me “I want to paint like you”. While I was utterly flattered and honored, I felt obligated to tell my friend that there’s no short cut to this. Every week when I type up a new blog post, I try to come up with easy to follow tips to improve your painting. However, there’s something I simply can’t teach you in a short blog post or lesson – Fundamental.
I remember the first term of my art school years. One of the class is head drawing. Obviously, the class is about teaching students how to draw human heads. You’d be wrong if you think I just show up every week listen to the instructor and draw one head per class. The requirement for a passing grade in that class is to do 500 heads by the end of term (a term is 14 weeks, so that means I have to draw about 35~40 heads per week). It was serious, if one head was missing from the sketch book, you get a F in that class.
If you ask me what do I feel about that 500 heads. I will tell you it’s not enough! It’s not that I think they should raise the requirement, but that was just the beginning. I was only getting the grasp of head drawing after that amount of practice. To really master it and to get good at it, I have to keep practice on regular basis and repeatedly. Not only that, I have to practice with purpose! I have to aim for achieving the proper proportion, likeness, structure and lighting for each and every head that I draw. This takes years of effort. Every painting that I do now is the result from past decade of works. And I can honestly tell you that my painting can look much better now, if I have had worked harder and worked more.
Last workshop I did was focusing on fundamentals. While many students told me it was helpful, I truly wish they were able to take home those knowledge and work on it over and over. Think about the washes, edges, colors, values and shapes in every painting they do. If you simply learn the knowledge but never spend time to practice and apply them, those knowledge and techniques will never truly be yours. And no, you are unlikely to see huge amount of improvement in a month or two. But if you are persistent, you might see the improvement in a year or two. It is not an easy journey by any means, but remember there are ways to boost your confidence along the way.