Ways to Improve Your Art Skills and Abilities: Projects, Practices, and More
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.
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.
- alisaburke: a peek inside my sketchbook
Artist Alisa Burke sketches nearly every day and often shares her progress on her blog. Studying an artist's daily sketch work can be quite educational and inspiring.
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.
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.
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.
- 30 Instagram Photographers to Follow Now :: Design :: Lists :: Paste
Since many pros don’t use searchable hashtags, we've compiled a list of 30 professional photographers over ten categories (in no particular order) to highlight the best Instagram has to offer to kick off 2014.
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.
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.
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
- Daily, Weekly, and 30 Day Photography Challenges
I've rounded up the best photography challenges online. Learn the etiquette for participation and then give it a try!
- Daily art challenges on Pinterest : Claudia Michelle Bryner (animemangagirl1)
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.
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.
More resources for artists from the author.
- How to Find Creative Inspiration and Stay Inspired: Tips for Writers and Artists
Finding creative inspiration and staying inspired as a writer or artist is no small task. Here are some tips for establishing an inspiring routine, mixing it up once in a while, and re-evaluating.
- Tips for Taking Stunning Jewelry and Other Small Item Product Photos
This article is about how to take stunning jewelry and other small item product photos. I include tips about equipment, camera settings, lighting, editing, backgrounds, tips for Etsy, and more.
- 10 Color Combinations That Every Artist Should Attempt
Are you interested in mixing up your creative routine? In this article, I detail ten color combinations that I believe all artists should attempt at some point during their careers.
© 2014 Rose Clearfield