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  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    The best way to practice?

    Hi, I hope this is the right forum to post this...

    Ok, just as a bit of backstory, I used to practice drawing a few years ago, but ended up finding it stressed me out too much (at not being good enough) so I gave up for the time being. My goal was to be able to draw well straight from my head, which I could never really do, though I got pretty good at drawing from observation. Anyway, I've been wanting to take it up again, but I'd like some advice.
    I know that the best way to improve is drawing from life, but to be able to draw things accurately I had to draw extremely slowly, and pay very close attention to just drawing in each contour and line of whatever I was looking at. When I do that I get the best results, but it feels like because I'm focusing on that so much I'm not really taking in the actual form of the object (memorising what it's like in 3d, if that makes sense?) I'm just looking abstractly at the lines and copying them down. So for that reason I'm not sure if it's really helping me that much in being able to draw from imagination.
    And if I would try and do quick sketches to capture the idea of the dimensions of whatever was in front of me, it would normally end up innaccurate and messy, so doing the opposite doesn't seem to help either.
    Plus, even when I could draw, let's say, a realistic person, as soon as I would try and draw things around them, perspective and everything else would be off. So I guess my question is, how should I go about trying to improve? Where should I start? Should I try and think consciously about what I'm drawing when I do observational pictures, or just let myself get in 'the zone'? Any thoughts would be really appreciated!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern California
    Thanked 4,921 Times in 2,548 Posts
    Q: Best way to practice and improve?

    A: Practice and study.

    I don't know why people think drawing is easy...or that just a few attempts will yield mastery. Expect to take a few years of fairly intensive study to understand drawing fundamentals.
    What would Caravaggio do?

    Plein Air
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Hudson River valley, NY
    Thanked 16,684 Times in 5,021 Posts
    It doesn't matter where you start. What matters is that you continue.

    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron

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  7. #4
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    Jun 2006
    Torrance, CA
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    I was gonna leave this post moderated so that the OP could look around other parts of the site Then again the downside to that is they may leave because their posts are moderated...but they may leave because they feel the answers people give aren't custom and personal :/

  8. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    This good thread I had for awhile and just found it again. Read Sascha Thau's comment.
    The Best Ways to study

  9. #6
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    Feb 2012
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    Thanks Mind of Madness! That's exactly the type of thing I was looking for, that's really helpful.

    I realise now my original post sounds like I'm just complaining about how hard it is to draw - I guess what I meant to ask was more along the lines of, is practice more beneficial if I try and make myself think about what I'm drawing, or just let myself go into autopilot? It seems a bit obvious now that I've put it like that though...

  10. #7
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    Apr 2011
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    The best way to practice is a lot.

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  12. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Thanked 2,593 Times in 1,617 Posts
    Just draw and don't bother about doing it slow or fast. Do it right at whatever speed, and do it a lot. Speed will come later, as you are building up the skill.

  13. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Williston, Vermont
    Thanked 156 Times in 102 Posts
    Whenever I'm practicing (which is never near enough), I always focus on trying to solve a problem, rather than just "practice". Say, for instance, I am having issues with edges. So, my practice strictly focuses on edges (lost and found).

    For instance, right now, I'm practicing to get realistic colors. So, when I'm painting, I'm strictly focusing on getting the right colors matched up. I make sure that I get the other parts of the painting satisfactory, but, if not, then I just add those other bits to practice sessions later on. I just make sure that I'm solving the problem that is my goal of the practice.

  14. #10
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    Sep 2009
    Thanked 135 Times in 58 Posts
    Read up on the concept of "deliberate practice".

  15. #11
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    Jul 2007
    ON, Canada
    Thanked 127 Times in 76 Posts
    with great confidence, great doubt, and great effort.

  16. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Thanked 46 Times in 42 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Backwardsghost View Post
    but to be able to draw things accurately I had to draw extremely slowly, and pay very close attention to just drawing in each contour and line of whatever I was looking at. When I do that I get the best results, but it feels like because I'm focusing on that so much I'm not really taking in the actual form of the object
    I was just thinking about the same topic this morning. I'm an absolute beginner with less than two months under my belt, so I'm just here to sympathize .

    Personally, I started learning with the Right Brain book, which emphasizes drawing exactly what you see. I recognize the importance of that skill, but if I'm being honest, I must admit that I kind of hate drawing that way for long stretches of time. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but I feel like that frame of mind alienates me from the subject.

    Lately, I've been working through Nicolaides' book (I'm about 45 hours in), and I'm really enjoying his approach to building understanding of the subject. Hopefully I'll continue to improve both understanding and copying, and learn how to integrate them effectively.

    Best of luck in your studies.

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  18. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Thanked 21 Times in 21 Posts
    If you want to improve your art, the best way to do this is to keep drawing as often as possible. You'll improve along the way naturally.

  19. #14
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    Feb 2012
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    Ah, it's good to know someone else has the same thoughts! I read drawing on the right side of the brain too, and I know how you feel about being alienated from the subject. I might have to check out Nicolaides' book if that has more of a focus on understanding the subject, so I can balance that with practicing drawing what I see.
    Thanks to everyone for the replies too - I'll look up about deliberate practice, and it's good to know that if I just work on quality, then speed will follow. I'll definitely try your approach too (Doug), working on one thing at a time sometimes for improvement.

  20. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Thanked 107 Times in 95 Posts
    I think you just have to practice, and feel good when you're drawing, if you work regularly you will see your progresses and you will want to even get better...
    It's like video games : you reach level 2 but you want to get level 3 etc...

    I will quote Glenn Rane, Art Director from Blizzard Entertainment, who answered this question on his deviantart :

    "* How do I learn to paint and draw? How do I become a better artist? I think people learn by doing. It's all about mileage. Do something once and you probably suck at it. Do something 50 times and you're probably starting to get the hang of it. Do something 500 times and you are probably getting pretty good at it. Do it 10,000 times and you're a master. School is good, but in the end, your education rests solely on you."

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