What would you recommend to someone just starting out?
I get this question a lot.

And since most of you support me in the workshop tier, I figured I'd share some "good habits" that have helped me :) Hopefully it helps you as well, to study art more effectively.

If you enjoy drawing, chances are you are already doing it every day and you're simply wondering how to improve more efficiently and effectively. If you do not feel the urge to draw often, try to develop a habit first.

Developing any skill takes patience and hard work.

I used to think talent, creativity and passion were part of the mix, too. Only after making a conscious effort to improve, and noticing major improvements in my own work in just 1-2 years time, I came to realize that I can't just dismiss the time and effort I had just put in.

My art improved more in a single year than the decades before that combined.

I no longer believe in 'talent'.

Someone might have a predisposition to develop a basic understanding of certain things faster - for example their understanding of perspective - but they might struggle in other areas - such as anatomy or lighting

People aren't born with the natural ability to understand color, light, depth etc. At least, I wasn't ;-) Every good artist I know has studied these fundamentals relentlessly.

I consider myself mediocre compared to the artists I look up to (and being aware of how much I still have to learn), but thankfully there is actually a lot of 'theory' behind what good art is. Something I can study and learn to apply. 

I already learned the basics in highschool, but I never really understood how these fundamentals were an important part of art until last year... If I can begin to learn these things at the age of 29-turning-30, you can too :) Even if you have only 30 minutes a day to study art, I wholeheartedly believe that everyone can learn to draw. 

Here are some good habits:

  • Observe and draw from life. Use reference photo's. Draw what you see, not what you know. Force yourself to see things.
  • Study the fundamentals: color, light, composition, anatomy, perspective and depth.
  • Don't try to draw or paint fast. Speed isn't the result of how fast you move your pencil or brush - it's the result of knowing where to put things. If you look at some old master's paintings, you'll see how they often use very little, but well-placed brush strokes. Speed is something you will develop naturally over time.
  • Don't worry about 'your style'. This also develops naturally over time. Dare to explore different techniques, media and new ways to draw. Your interpretation of whatever it is you're drawing is already uniquely yours. 
  • Never automatically go with your first idea, but force yourself to explore different compositions or color palettes (sketch thumbnails) before you decide which one works best.
  • And finally: don't rely on (digital) filters and blending modes if you don't really understand what they do. It's so much more valuable to develop an understanding of color and light that transcends the medium you're using. 

I know I said this already, but:

My art improved more in a single year than the decades before that combined. Thanks to these habits.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Which piece of advice has helped you the most? 

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