Ten Quick Ways to Improve Your

In This Chapter

Investing in your tools Refining your skills Bettering yourself

J\ s you grow in your art, you may hit a plateau. You may need a kick-start for inspiration or wonder how to improve your art skills. Read the list in this chapter whenever you need a boost. The good news is there are lots of ideas to push you to the next level.

Buy Better Art Supplies

Possibly the easiest ways to get better is to upgrade your art supplies. You do get what you pay for. A well-cared-for sable brush can last your whole career and produce the same fine lines on its last day of work as on its first. A better grade of paper helps give your paintings depth and texture. More expensive paints produce richer colors. (Chapter 2 talks about supplies.)

Practice, and Then Practice Some More

How do you get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Practice, child!

Improve your drawing skills. Draw every day. Keep a sketchbook and use it. Set up a studio space you use only for creating art. Paint every day. Paint from life. (Chapter 8 covers drawing, and Chapter 2 talks about painting habits.)

Study the Experts

Why reinvent the wheel? Find out what already exists and what is left to say with watercolor.

274 Part IV:The Part of Tens

Take workshops. Watch how-to videos. Read art books. Visit art galleries. Join an art club. Subscribe to an art magazine. Look up art sites on the Internet. Take a life drawing class. Copy an old master work for study. Ask advice from experts. Study with a master. Do the exercises in a how-to book. Explore art movements in history. Read biographies of other artists.

Dig Deeper

Dig within you. You are the only one with your unique perspective.

Observe your subject and really "see" the details. Think of a title that captivates the audience even before you paint. Incorporate symbolism. Tell a story. Communicate. Incorporate feelings. Create mood. Illustrate a cause. Paint what you know. Research your subject.

Make Use of Composition and Design

Design your composition before painting. Plan a color scheme. Plan and use a value pattern. Use thumbnail sketches. Make sure to include a center of interest. Obey the laws of perspective in realistic landscapes. Balance the painting. Take the image all the way to the edge of the paper. Use thick and thin and broken lines. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Make more gradation. Variety, variety, variety. Make no two shapes the same. (Chapter 7 has details on good composition.)

Nurture Your Inner Artist

Watch a sunset. Appreciate beauty. Visit local galleries and museums wherever you are. Put a professional mat and frame on your paintings. Wonder at the world. Collect art you admire. Listen to Mozart. (His symphonies are linked to creative brain stimulation.) Travel for new discoveries and perspectives. Buy a new color of paint just because you like it.

Tend to Your Creature Comforts

Make your work area ergonomic and comfortable. Clean your palette before putting on fresh colors. Set up your painting area in a room with a view. Play your favorite music while you paint. Find a painting coverall you like to wear over your clothes. (Chapter 2 gives advice on setting up your painting area.)

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