Ways to Improve Your Art Skills and Abilities: Projects, Practices, and More

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Are you interested in taking your artistic skills to the next level but aren't sure where to start? It can be overwhelming to read these type of articles and feel like you have to do everything at once. Start with small steps, picking a couple areas of priority and then build from there. As art becomes part of your daily routine, you won't even think about incorporating it because it will be so natural.

If you make time for art every day and use the time productively, you will get better.
If you make time for art every day and use the time productively, you will get better. | Source

Devote time every day

I get numerous questions about how to take better pictures. Most people want to hear that a better camera or editing software program made all of the difference. They don't want to hear that it has taken me a lot of practice to get where I am today. The bottom line is that if high end paints or professional brushes were the trick to painting beautifully, everyone would have amazing painting skills. Start with the time that you can devote to art each day and build from there. Keep in mind that five minutes a day might not seem like much, but it equals half an hour or more per week and two hours or more per month.

If you own a DSLR, get a proper bag for it so that you can take it with you safely.
If you own a DSLR, get a proper bag for it so that you can take it with you safely. | Source

Keep a sketchbook and/or camera on hand

You never know when you'll have a few extra minutes or when inspiration will strike. Even if you're not interesting in improving your drawing or photography skills, these tools can be a huge asset for your artistic skills. A sketchbook or small notebook is perfect for writing or drawing ideas that you want to revisit later. You can use a camera for the same purposes. For example, maybe you see a great sunset that you'd like to paint. Take a picture for reference. As every new smartphone and tablet is equipped with a digital camera, there is no excuse for not having a camera with you.

Brainstorming can be as simple as writing down a list of ideas for potential art projects.
Brainstorming can be as simple as writing down a list of ideas for potential art projects. | Source

Brainstorm new ideas

You're not always going to think of a great idea when you do have a few minutes to work on your art. As such, it's best practice to keep a list of ideas ready so that you can work when you do have the time. If you're already using a sketchbook and/or camera, you're off to a great start. Whenever you think of an idea, record it. You don't have to use all of your ideas. Most people don't. But if you keep them flowing, you'll continue to generate ideas that you do end up using.

This November when I was vending craft fairs every weekend, I would browse Instagram when things got slow in the afternoons.
This November when I was vending craft fairs every weekend, I would browse Instagram when things got slow in the afternoons. | Source

Set up an inspiring Instagram, Tumblr, and/or Flickr feed

One of the best ways to improve a skill is to learn from the best. There are a number of popular photo sharing sites with tons of high quality images from talented artists including Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr. Some people find it beneficial to set up an account for a specific medium or subject (i.e. landscape photography, watercolor art journaling) and only follow accounts with this type of content. Other people would rather have a more varied feed. Choose the site that is the best fit for you and download the app so you can browse on your smartphone whenever you have a few extra minutes.

I'm fortunate to live in a city with a great art museum that brings in special exhibits every year.
I'm fortunate to live in a city with a great art museum that brings in special exhibits every year. | Source

Visit exhibits and museums

While it is great to take advantage of online resources, there is nothing quite like seeing art in person. Regardless of where you live, there are opportunities to see live art from high school gallery nights to world famous special exhibits at the top museums. Many exhibits are free or relatively inexpensive. Even visiting one or two new exhibits or museums a year can provide a wealth of inspiration.

I use photography software manuals for learning all sorts of different techniques.
I use photography software manuals for learning all sorts of different techniques. | Source

Learn as much as you can

Bettering your artistic skills is an ongoing process. You need to keep seeking new learning resources on a regular basis. Check books out of the library and find new high quality blogs to follow. Make sure that you use your learning time productively. Spending an hour pinning images of sunsets on Pinterest is not the same as learning how to use sepia tone presets in Lightroom and then putting those skills to use right away.

I love Toby's photography videos because he presents useful information in an approachable, friendly manner.

I participated in a photo a day challenge for several months and among other things, posted the photos on Pinterest.
I participated in a photo a day challenge for several months and among other things, posted the photos on Pinterest. | Source

Set goals and participate in challenges

It is way too easy to stagnate with a skill even when you work on it every day. It is important to set goals for yourself so that you keep improving. A goal can be as simple as painting with a new color combination every week to as ambitious as applying for and enrolling in an art degree program. Many people use challenges as a means of improving their skills and staying accountable. When you have to check in with a group every week or every month, you're more likely to stay motivated with the challenge.

Caricature Art: Challenge Jim with Zoella

Take classes and workshops

You do not have to be enrolled in an art degree program or be pursuing art on a professional level to take a class or a workshop. Many local artists offer affordable classes out of their studios or at local community centers and colleges. There are also lots of inexpensive online class offerings. It can be hard to justify the expense when there are so many free art resources available, but taking a class can be a great opportunity to take your skills to a new level in a short period of time and to network with other artists.

I post regular photo features on my blog, which is a great way to get feedback on my work from my readers.
I post regular photo features on my blog, which is a great way to get feedback on my work from my readers. | Source

Get feedback

Several of the previously mentioned strategies, such as participating in challenges and taking classes, are a great way to get feedback on your work. It can be intimidating putting your work out there, even if it's just for your friends on Facebook or via a blog. However, ultimately it's what you need to do if you're ever going to improve. Find individuals who are willing to dialogue with you openly about your work and who will provide honest constructive criticism.

Toby and his Camera Rec YouTube channel / Flickr stream is just one online resource for getting your photos critiqued.

© 2014 Rose Clearfield

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Comments 12 comments

Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

Sometimes to learn something, it's a lot easier to take smaller steps than to try to learn it all at once. These are some good suggestions. Voted up.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Ann, absolutely! Thanks!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A brilliant hub; voting up .sharing and wishing you a great day.

eddy.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Fascinating. They say it takes 10,000 hours to really be an expert on something, so practicing and having goals make huge sense. Thanks for some great ideas.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 2 years ago from Bend, Oregon

I love the tip you have with respect to photography, using the analogy to a painter having the "best brushes," but noting that it takes daily, consistent practice to improve.

Rated up, useful and interesting!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks so much, Eddy! Take care.

tirelesstraveler, I have heard that figure about being an expert, too. You're right that practice and goals play huge roles in it.

Thanks, Steph! I really appreciate the feedback. :)


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

We all want quick fixes, but as with anything it's usually about practice, trial and error, and feedback. I like your ideas for growing your own talents.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

You're absolutely right, FlourishAnyway. :) Thanks!


BNadyn profile image

BNadyn 2 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

I like your point about challenging yourself but also including accountability and putting your work out there. These are all such useful tips. Consistently practicing is so effective which I'm discovering since I would like to improve taking pictures. Voted up and pinning. :)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks so much, BNadyn! I appreciate the feedback. Best of luck with your photo skills. :)


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

Very useful tips, and they can apply to many art forms, not just photography or sketching. Good hub!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, grand old lady! It's great to hear that.

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