Hey all- Been reading the site for a while now, first time posting (well, technically second, I wrote this all up and it didn't post the first time, and it didn't save... argh). First of all, I just wanted to say this site is amazing. It's really great to see the the dedication and openness everyone has, only to further the goals of community, self-improvement, and creation. It's nice to see, and it'd be nice to see more of in the world at large.

Now, to the topic at hand. I've noticed that there really isn't a collection of tips and techniques in a single thread. I've read a lot of good things on this site, and I think everyone here has a lot of good things to say. I'd really like to know what kinds of things people have learned over the years, anything useful in general, things people learned the hard way, things to remember, etc.

I'm also interested in the formal side of things, what those of you that are in ateliers right now are learning. The threads with peoples' progress are really interesting, although I've seen different techniques in some of the sketches that I don't know what are, and would like to know more about to practice on my own. I've been interested in the Watts Atelier ever since I read about it at Feng Zhu's site, but since I don't live in CA it's a bit hard to go there. I guess I'd like to vicariously learn through the students there. Any techniques from any schools would be welcome, however. I'm sure others would appreciate them as well.

Some specific questions:
Quick sketches: The ones I've seen from the Watts people are clean, fluid, and expressive. How do you construct these? How do you get the single, gestural lines? Are the same principles used as a basis for the more complex drawings?

Heads: Some of the sketches I've seen have the circle for the forehead. What techniques do you use, how are the basic forms laid in? Any tips for features/shading?

Hands and feet: In one thread, someone posted sketches of hands and feet constructed using ovals, in the method of the old masters. They looked fantastic. What is this method, and how is it used?

Figure: Any tips to remember for shading/anatomy/proportion?

Getting started: What are good warmups to limber up/relax, and more importantly, get focused and into what you're doing?

Work habits: How do you keep yourself motivated? What do you do on the days when you know you should work, but don't feel like it? How do you establish habits where you create every day?

These are just starting questions, feel free to post any and all tips and ideas. I'm hoping that this will get enough responses where it might become a useful reference thread. Thanks for reading, I know it's a bit long.