June 10, 2019

An Ode to daily art practice – 9 reasons why daily art practice is important

Yesterday I decided to write an ode to daily art practice. And to prove my point as to how daily art practice leads to progress, I include the photos below which show how my watercolor skills and my art style has evolved since the first time I used this medium in 2017. The second painting “flowers in an orange vase” was painted in May 2019.  

watercolor painting progress before (2017) and after (2019)
My reflections on daily/ consistent painting (or writing or any other artistic expression whatsoever) are listed below as a reminder to myself to keep on practicing:

1. Painting is a habit as much as a calling

Painting is a calling, it is part of your soul and comes naturally. Daily art practice, however, is a habit and is essential for improving your skills and gaining confidence in your art. You cannot call yourself a painter, if you do not paint consistently.  

2. “Thinking of painting” is not the same with actually “painting”

Spending time (awake or asleep) on “Thinking of painting” and “talking about painting” is like “Collecting Underware” in the South Park Underpants Gnomes Business Plan. In the end, you have to sit down and paint, otherwise you are an amateur.

3. Progress and art style

Progress is the outcome of hard work, it is not effortless and doesn’t happen overnight. Art style evolves along with your progress and commitment in art, the improvement of your skills, the perfecting of your technique, the selection of the subjects/ themes. Above all, freedom to express without censoring yourself will get you closer to finding and embracing a style that will be recognizable as your own.

Do not be afraid of changing your art style. Every artist progresses and evolves through time (like Klimt or Picasso).

4. Studying and conscious practice

You should set aside specific time for:
      a) studying e.g. from other artists, color theory, art history, and
      b) practicing consciously e.g. learn and perfect watercolor techniques/ new subjects, using values, copy from master painters etc.
A good tip also is to practice in your sketchbook, when you don’t feel like creating or when you lack inspiration.

5. Perfectionism

A usual problem for painters is the gap between how they imagine their painting will turn out and what they execute as final piece. The expectations and the artwork’s potential are always higher in the imagination. This is disturbing and goes hand in hand with perfectionism. One should remember that:
       a) The gap between imagination and the final artwork closes with consistent practice.
       b) Painting is trial and error and sketchbooks are not clean and perfect as usually presented.
Even accomplished painters throw their artworks in the bin.

6. Having an audience

An artist cannot thrive without an audience. He needs encouragement and support. Social media can thus be considered outlets of creative expression and a means of connecting and bringing value to supporters. That being said, social media and comments from the community should not restrict the artist, impose specific art styles or themes, as he should be the one to decide his artistic course.

A side benefit from sharing work with the public, is that this way you stay consistent with your art and you gain complementary skills like staging and presenting your art, talking about your art and what drives you/ challenges you to create, etc.

7. Stepping out of your comfort zone

Stepping out of your comfort zone is important. I have realized that I learn more from paintings that have not turned out well, because I experimented with new techniques. This means that you may produce a picture that is not worth sharing with your audience but is extremely good for your progress.

8. Finishing a painting

You learn a lot from finishing a painting, especially when it does not turn out well because (a) you beat perfectionism (hurray!) and (b) you have to figure out ways to make it look better e.g. splash some paint or water or alcohol ink, add values and shadows, use white gouache or salt or cling film or other tools of the trade.

9. Researching and finding inspiration

Every painting is the result of several drafts, sketching, researching for inspiration, observation, day- and night-dreaming, doodling, searching for references, etc. This inspiration seeking process may be very time-consuming. Hoping on and off internet can be crazy, so remember Reflection No. 2.