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Sorry for the bizarre question, but just sat on the train wondering. Once you get to a very good level in drawing an stop for a while (for whatever reason), 1 month, 1 year, 5 years whatever, do you have to practice loads to get back to where you were? Or is it more of a 'rusty' feeling, I.e. A few drawings and you're back where you left off?
p.s. This is not based on me btw, checkout my sketchbook you will see I am there yet!
Last edited by kompound; April 4th, 2011 at 02:32 PM.
Generally, skill is not lost completely after a break. You might encounter some setback, like loss of fluidity of your motion, but the former prowess is regained with just a little practice. In fact, taking a break often results in improvement, because you allow the neural pathways to "settle down".
I am not sure how dependent that might be on your experience, though. Perhaps a skill that hadn't been practiced a lot to begin with won't return so easily.
I think you mean "lose"...but yeah, and generally most artists do use the term "rusty". And yeah, you do get it back quickly and Arenhaus makes the good point that often there is even improvement or growth that is unexpected. But 5 years is a bit much...even one year without drawing would be too much I would think. I get rusty in a few months with life drawing - but I draw something all the time.
Sorry yes I meant 'lose'
I used to draw all the time and then didn't for 25 years. Yes, I am very rusty, my eye is not as good and I'm having relearn stuff that was easy back then. My lines are different, composition weaker and sometimes I feel like someone having to learn to walk again after an accident. Some things didn't disappear like colour mixing and some things did come back quicker with a bit of work. I wouldn't recommend it.
As for me, I did hand studies like mad last summer and know I don't know how to draw a hand. Let me tell you if you are a noob like me, you will forget fast.
I don't find myself as "rusty" so much as "cold--" I have to start every morning with 30 minutes worth of sketching before I feel that I've warmed up enough to start on paid work. Even with live drawing-- if I'm late for the quick gesture stuff, my longer poses are never up to scratch. Warming up is now a necessity in my routine.
But I guess we're talking about lengthy periods eh? In that case, it seems to me that if you drew very regularly at some point in your life, the skills are archived away in the big old desktop of your mind.. my analogy is like this-- if those skills are something you pick up and use every day, then they'll be right where you left them last time, no worry about losing it. However, if it's been a while and other things have piled on top, you're going to have to spend some time shuffling around in your head looking for those skills again... but they'll be there, it just takes a longer.
I've found with a lot of my university projects, I don't always have the time to draw every day. In fact, aside from highschool, the last time I drew every day was for the two months at my internship (It seems interns in the corporate world actually have nights free after they clock out! Who would have known, after the constant all-nighters at uni?!).
The longest break I've taken was a couple of months, and I actually found that once I get past the "warm up", my drawing improves. It might have something to do with my breaks being design work, so still related, or it's that I have more time to enjoy the visual reference I find around me and store that knowledge for later use. Either way, I'd much rather draw/paint more often, but catching the breaks while I still have a chance can be nice too.